Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
The rise of the drink-at-home beer subscription service seems unrelenting since the quite wonderful BeerBods arrived on the scene in 2012. Since then a whole range of different subscription services have sprung up, such as the engaging yet off-kilter Honest Brew and the passionate BelgiBeer, who are determined to make a living by showing people the craftier side of Belgian brewing. The latest player to arrive on the scene is Bristol based The Beer Vault who are attempting to differentiate themselves from competitors by suppling their customers with bottles from the bleeding edge of craft beer.
The Beer Vault offer two different services. The first, their 'Lock Box' is what they describe as their "standard beer box... but nothing's standard about it". The other option is a limited, one in, one out members club called the Vault Reserve which is aimed directly at the collector/enthusiast. When the Vault Reserve service first began, The Beer Vault boldly sent their subscribers bottles of the revered Westvleteren 12, immediately laying their credentials on the line. As there are only 50 spaces for Vault Reserve members I can't imagine it'll be long before they're fully subscribed, providing they can keep the bar this high of course.
I was sent an example of a Lock Box, which contains eight beers, shipped monthly at a cost of £30 each time, including delivery charges. The thing that most impressed me about the beers that arrived was that I had personally bought all of them before, either from a bottle shop or in a bar. I like to imagine I'm a man of taste so clearly the people behind The Beer Vault must be too. There was Beavertown's Neck Oil, Fourpure's overlooked Pale Ale, the clever Iced Tea Saison from Bermondsey's Partizan and the sublime Black Perle coffee milk stout from Weird Beard, to name but a few. My only negative comment would be that this box was incredibly London-centric with only two of the beers, Wild Beer Co's Scarlet Fever and the wonderful New World Saison from Buxton, being born outside of the capital.
Putting this to one side, this is still an absolutely cracking set of beers that would keep any ardent beer lover happy, although I doubt I could make a selection this good last me an entire month. I think the real trick for The Beer Vault is to be able to continue to source beers of the highest quality month after month and keeping it interesting for their subscribers. After chatting to the guys behind the business I could quickly tell they were as passionate and enthusiastic about beer as I am. As a result I have every confidence that they'll manage their expectations comfortably.
I was sent these beers for free but I don't think that influenced my opinion of them. If you fancy trying out the beer vault for yourself then they're currently offering 25% off your first Lock Box.