Preparing and Shipping Beer for the National Homebrew Competition

I was lucky enough to get two entries into the National Homebrew Competition this year. This is the first year I’m entering the competition. I don’t plan on doing that well but I’m more interested in getting feedback from the judges and see how I can improve. I’ve submitted my “Austin Powers” Brittish IPA and a Blackberry Wheat several weeks ago to the competition. Both beers came out pretty decent and I’ll share taste results in another post. As I patiently wait for the judging results I wanted to share the packing and shipping process I went through. Hopefully what I learned will help other homebrewers that want to send in their beer to a competition. 

First, since I submitted two beers I had to submit two bottles for each submission. I made sure the bottles were clean, no markings and double checked to ensure these weren’t my Sam Adams bottles that have the Samuel Adams signature in the glass. The competition also requires one label per bottle attached via a rubber band. One thing I forgot was that you need to put the labels in a plastic ziplock bag then put the label attached with a rubber band. Don’t forget this like I did! I had to unwrap then rewrap my bottles to put the labels in the ziplock bags then rewrap.  The labels need to be in ziplock bags since printer ink (I have an ink jet) will bleed from condensation and the judges won’t be able to read your labels if the temperature changes during shipping or at the judging center.



Next came the box and packing material selection. I found a nice box that I ironically had homebrew supplies shipped in and gathered together as much bubble wrap as I could find.  I lined the box on the bottom and all the sides with bubble wrap then wrapped each bottle with a few layers of bubble wrap, taped the top and bottom ends of the bottle with packing tape and finally put each wrapped bottle in a large ziplock bag.  This is to ensure that if one bottle breaks, it will be easy for the judging center to tell.


Lastly, I stuffed newspaper between the bottles as well as anywhere else I could minimize movement of the bottles. I then taped the box up with packing tape and made haste to the UPS Store. 



One important thing to note is that it’s prohibited to ship alcohol via the USPS so you have to use a private carrier like UPS or FedEx.  I still played it safe when UPS asked me if anything banned or fragile was in the box.  I said “glassware” and it’s packed really well. 🙂

Good luck to others that entered their beer into the National Homebrew Competition this year!

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