Home-delivery service has become one of the tech industry's fastest growing sectors, and while its primary focus has been restaurant-prepared meals, beer and liquor are increasingly on the agenda. Over the past several months, several beer-delivery models have been explored in San Diego, with a few craft-beer shops and breweries taking part.
Back in 2011, in response to concerns raised about internet delivery companies selling alcohol, California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) bureau issued an industry advisory that created a framework for an unlicensed third-party provider to collect online orders and payment, procure alcohol from a licensed vendor (retailer or producer), and deliver it to a customer. While the issue at that time involved web shops shipping booze through the mail, it established a model for localized delivery services.
For example, the web-based delivery service DoorDash has been piloting a program working with North Park's Mike Hess Brewing. For the past few months, cans and crowlers of Hess beer have been available for a two-dollar delivery fee, directly from the brewery in under an hour, with no minimum order. Hess owns an ABC license, DoorDash does not. "The licensing falls on the merchant," says DoorDash associate general manager Aria Afshar, "but in terms of ABC compliance, we train all of our drivers to check ID."
Another service, Eat24Hours.com, recently began delivering bottles and cans on behalf of Hillcrest’s Brew Project, a craft-beer bar and bottle shop. The service costs about seven dollars with a ten-dollar minimum, which includes food from the bar's restaurant. Brew Project cofounder Beau Schmitt says, "We've been seeing people in hotels and locals ordering beer and wine with their food. It's one of those things that catches on after the first order."
Brew Project treats its bottle sales as a loss leader, so retail prices skew low enough to justify the fee. Within the downtown area, the Best Damn Beer Shop at Krisp grocery store offers the widest selection of beers available for delivery, ranging from macro to craft and imports. The Krisp service has been running for about six months and collects orders through its own website, unaffiliated with a web company — and prices reflect that.
While Krisp doesn't charge a delivery fee, it requires a $35 minimum order and prices its beers higher. To give an example, a six-pack of Alpine Pure Hoppiness goes for $15 at Brew Project, yet sells for $21 at KrispDelivery.com. However, that's not to say internet company services make beer delivery cheaper as a rule. Web-based app Saucey offers free delivery from an undisclosed shop, yet charges $27.50 for the same six-pack.
Despite the costs sometimes associated with it, beer delivery seems to be growing into a crowded market. It's also available through Vons, big-box store BevMo, and a site called MiniBarDelivery.com, which operates through local liquor-store chain Keg'n'Bottle. DoorDash reps say they will soon announce two more local breweries making their beer available at the click of a button.