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 took that approach one step further when it launched, 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 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 growing number of breweries across the country.
Since starting out, the rapid rise of craft cans in Australia has led to far more breweries canning than ever before. As a result, Darren and Peter switched to focusing on getting the freshest possible tinnies into the hands of beer fans. It means the beer they send out is often brand new releases, though if any brew has just come off the canning line, it could easily be included.
Most often, that beer is sent through the Hops to Home monthly Beer Club packs. At the start of each month the online retailer sends out a box of ten fresh cans which includes five different beers. Extra thirsty subscribers can get their hands on 20 packs and there are also plenty of options for anyone looking to give the gift of beer.
As for the focus on canned beers, Darren and Peter believe they eliminate the risk of light strike, chill the beer quicker, reduce breakage and allow for easy recycling from home.
Initially, Hops to Home cold-delivered to the Melbourne metropolitan area but, as of the middle of 2016, had expanded into national delivery. The main goal of retailer seems to be keeping as many fridges as full as hops as possible.
Between gift packs, the monthly Beer Club, and options for office beer deliveries, they are certainly working hard to achieve that goal.