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> Packing and Shipping Beer, contributed by mach5
kroyster
post Aug 28 2007, 09:33 AM
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Legalities
Firstly, lets get the rules and regulations out of the way. It is AGAINST THE LAW to ship beer via the United States Postal Service. So, do not try it, you do not want to get caught and face fines or imprisonment. Use a private shipper such as UPS or FedEx, I have shipped all my beer with UPS and have had no problems thus far.

Secondly, it also may be AGAINST THE LAW to ship across state lines depending on your state and local laws. You might want to check into these laws before you participate in any shipping and evaluate whether it is worthwhile. With that out of the way, I'll provide my brief opinions on this matter, you need to evaluate the risks and consequences your self and make your own decisions. Most of the state laws are written to impact the collection of taxes. Since you are shipping homebrew, to another homebrewer, and in very low quantities, the state will most likely have no interest in your shipment if you would happen to get caught. Essentially, the homebrew has no tax value to them in the first place so there are no laws broken. If you are shipping commercial beer on the other hand, the story may change, so be aware of that. Your best bet is to package well, so there is no breakage, and ship in small quantities (six or fewer beers). Finally, I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV, so take my words and opinions with a grain of salt. Remember, regardless of how much the rules suck, we are still expected to follow them, they are made for our protection!

Packing
This is the most important part of shipping. You need to pack WELL! Firstly, I pick a box that is much larger than the couple of bottles I wish to ship, this leaves plenty of room for packing material. I wrap each bottle in bubble wrap or newspaper, then place it in a large ziploc bag that can be sealed to hold liquids. I prefer using newspaper over bubble wrap because if a bottle breaks or there is a leak the newspaper will absorb some of the liquid, whereas with bubble wrap or peanuts it will end up leaking out of the box. I also use the ziploc bags so that, again, if a bottle breaks there is a means to hold the liquid until the package arrives. Then I stuff the box with newspaper, put the beers in and then stuff more wadded newspaper all around the beers. Tape it up really well at all the seems and you are good to go.

Some other notes on this topic: Be sure to choose beers that have been bottled for awhile and are bottle stable, you do NOT want to be shipping bottle bombs. Also be aware that your beers may be subject to extreme temperatures in the shipper's trucks/planes, so you want to make sure there is no possibility of fermentation starting up again and creating a security breach at some airport. Also, I have seen people use cut pieces of PVC tubing to add shock protection to each bottle. This is a good idea, but will add weight and cost to your shipment. If you are on a budget, just stick to lots of newspaper (its cheap to begin with) and you will be fine.

Shipping
Take your box to your local shipper (probably UPS or FedEx) and drop it off. They will probably ask what is in the box, many brewers say "Yeast Samples", but I figure that will cause some strange looks so I always tell them I'm shipping "Glass Bottles", followed up with "They are packed really well".

Hopefully, your beer will get to its destination quickly and safely.

~mach5
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