The nature of commerce in the 21st century is that people can now get their chosen vice – whether it be shoes, books, scented candles, or even animal shaped onesies – over the internet. That shift does not stop at the threshold of a bottleshop either. As a result, a number of beer stores have extended their reach into the online realm, proffering tight pricing and bigger ranges than you might find in the trusty old bottle-o down the road.
Online store Hops to Home has taken that approach one step further, zooming in on a way to get keg-only craft beer into the hands of the devoted without them needing to line up at a bar, or drive from beer store to beer store in pursuit of that limited release brew from their favourite brewery.
Hops to Home was born in mid 2015 when Melbourne mates Darren Smith and Peter Van Shaik started discussing the difficulties in picking up growlers from venues or breweries in their work lunch breaks, only to find them warm by the time they got home. To their way of thinking, there was no reason craft beer couldn’t follow the path of organic food delivery companies, and get fresh beer delivered right to your door.
They started researching the best way to achieve this goal, including approaching a number of breweries at GABS 2015, and ended up in conversation with Grant Wearin of Modus Operandi. As well as landing Modus as one of the first breweries to sell beer from, they also bought a CANimal machine from the brewery, opening up the way for Hops to Home to expand into partnerships with beer venues and breweries who did not have canning capabilities.
They launched in late 2015 with growlers, mini-growlers and CANimals of Modus Operandi and ParrotDog beers, and since then have also partnered with a range of breweries including Hop Nation, Dainton Family Brewery, Exit Brewing, Hawkers, Wolf of the Willows, Mornington Peninsula Brewery and Venom.
Customers can either buy packs of beer directly from the Hops to Home site, or join the site’s Beer Club, and receive CANimals or growlers of different craft beers every month. Those members will get their hands on limited release beers that might never be packaged elsewhere, or otherwise wouldn’t be distributed beyond their home state.
For Darren and Peter, being able to enjoy a large can or two of high ABV beers wasn’t always going to be achievable during the week for some customers, especially if driving home or balancing family life were factors. Instead, having sought after beers sent directly to your door would allow for craft beer exploration to continue at home, at a reasonable price.
By focusing on the 946ml CANimals, they can eliminate the risk of light strike, chill the beer quicker, reduce breakage, and allow for easy recycling from home. Most importantly, the CANimal machine seams the cans immediately on filling, locking out oxygen and keeping the beer inside fresh for up to four weeks before opening. That becomes an important consideration for breweries with limited distribution who want to ensure their beer is being tried by new customers at its absolute best.
Initially, Hops to Home cold-delivered to the Melbourne metropolitan area but, as of the middle of 2016, had expanded into national delivery. Cold delivery nationwide is part of their expansion plan for 2016-17, as well as adding a wider range of breweries from across the country. Between online ordering, the monthly Beer Club, and options for office beer deliveries also available, you'd say there’s little excuse for the fridge to be left devoid of hops.