First time I walked into Engine 15 Brewing in Jacksonville Beach, I heard about their Mug Club. They had already sold out of memberships for the first year and there was a waiting list.
I never inquired again about it, because in my mind, you'd have to go often in order to make it beneficial. At that time, I was working a night shift, so hitting the brewery wasn't a weekly event.
These days, I have a more beer-friendly schedule, so we have re-evaluated joining brewery clubs.
Earlier this year, I bought my Dad a Legacy Makers package from Legacy Ale Works. It was his birthday, Christmas, you're a great Dad present. He lives very close to the brewery and I knew he'd enjoy the events. I ended up buying membership for my husband and I after I realized he'd enjoy it more with company.
The Legacy Makers program closed last week, as it was a pre-opening club. However, Legacy Ale Works co-owner Liz Jacobs says they will have a Mug Club, which they will offer sometime in the next few months, after they open.
Some breweries have variations of these clubs, you have a yearly membership fee and receive special perks. Either Happy Hour pricing or early entrance to events, swag and special events.
Some breweries are discontinuing their programs, like Intuition Ale Works that is retiring their Cellarman and Coterie program at the end of this month. They state that there has been a general decline in both membership and attendance to scheduled group events.
Intuition says, "We have decided to refocus our efforts with the goal of creating new programs and events that will be of greater interest to you all. These will include large public events, smaller and more intimate gatherings, community-driven programs, and charitable fundraisers."
I'm guessing their eighth-anniversary music fest is the type of event they are pursuing, which is a good thing!
Overall, these clubs are meant to drive loyalty and allow the breweries to meet and get to know their customers. In the case of Hyperion Brewing Company, the Firm Membership, a private invitation-only supporter group for regulars is meant to gain feedback on events and beers. If you are interested in joining, you'll need to email to see if there is an opening.
Newly opened Fishweir Brewing in Murray Hill has the Oak Club which is similar to the Firm Membership at Hyperion. They just recently announced they were opening a few more places in the club. So you'll need to move fast if you are interested. The swag for the Oak Club includes a really nice growler, so I think the cost will equal the benefits!
This might sound insane since we live in Jacksonville, but we just joined Amelia Island Brewing Company's TapStar Keg Club and attended a welcome dinner earlier this month.
The cost of a yearly membership is only $45. You receive swag, special events like beer release parties prior to the release, behind the scenes tours, Brewer Flight Nights, VIP pricing and entry into public events, like Oktoberfest. Plus the Yearly Renewal Party, which we attended, with food and beer provided by Amelia Tavern and AIBC. The biggest perk, 15 percent off your tab all year long.
After just this one event, we feel we more than made up for the membership cost. We ate a great dinner, drank several beers, listened to a great band and had a lovely time talking with other TapStar members. Even if we just attend a few events a year and go up there once a month, we get so much more than the initial outlay. We also received cool pint glasses and T-shirts. The biggest benefit? These guys are fun. Check out Amelia Island Brewing's YouTube Channel. Jay and Dave enjoy making videos and beer!
There are still a few spots left if you are interested in joining up this year. Contact Amelia Tavern or better yet, go there and try some amazing beer and food. It's a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Overall my experience with Clubs has been a good one. I am probably going to be more open to joining after my two good experiences.