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When Should You Give a Beer of the Month Club Membership?

If you're not a beer lover yourself, but you know someone who is, there is no better gift than the gift of ale. But rather than just plopping down a case of the old standard from the local beer distributor, why not consider a custom plan from a beer-of-the-month club?

Beer-of-the-month clubs are fast becoming a popular choice for those who enjoy beer, and welcome trying new flavors and brands in the comfort of their own homes. For monthly fees ranging between $35 and $70 a month, domestic, micro-brewed and even exotic beers will be delivered directly to your doorstep. It can make a great gift for a friend or loved one.

But how do you know whether giving a beer-of-the-month membership is a good decision? Suppose you know nothing about beer except that your best friend loves to drink it. Should you risk getting him a beer-of-the-month club membership as a surprise gift? You can, so long as you follow a few simple guidelines.

First and foremost, you'll need to know what kind of beer the intended recipient likes to drink. If they are a regular, run-of-the-mill kind of beer drinker, who prefers whatever brand is on tap or available at the local distributor, then they probably will be satisfied with a basic or "original" membership. Packages of this nature tend to be the least expensive out there, and feature samples from microbreweries across the United States. They run from $25 to $35 a month, plus shipping and handling costs. Most clubs which offer this kind of package allow for membership lengths as little as three months, which may be a good option if you are still unsure that the recipient will like your choice of beer.

If the person for whom you are purchasing the membership prefers beer with a more exotic look and taste, then you may want to explore purchasing a membership that features domestic and international varieties, or a "rare" beer club. A membership for a domestic/international club can cost around $35-50 a month, plus shipping and handling. It features the best brands from domestic and international microbreweries, making it a very popular option. If the gift is for someone who likes no-frills beer - but also might like the occasional new taste - this plan would be ideal.

The third and final option offered by most beer-of-the month clubs is strictly of a "rare" or "international" variety. Creatively-prepared and full of surprises, these are hard-core brands not readily available in the United States. A true beer connoisseur would love this kind of membership.

Once you've decided on the kind of beer you wish to give as a gift, the final step is to choose a membership length that is affordable for you. The mid-range plans tend to be the most popular, but with the additional shipping costs, it can be upwards of $100 a month. If this is not in your budget, then choosing a shorter-length plan or the basic plan may be a better option. Most clubs allow memberships as short as three-months, which may be ideal for gift-givers.

Lastly, make sure to check reviews for any club you consider using. Many clubs are members of the Better Business Bureau, providing an extra layer of protection for customers should there be a dispute in services.

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