"The box is the first thing an employee at your shipping provider of choice will look at, so avoid using a Jack Daniel's box." Illustration: Ryan Perkins
Last year, I taught SLUG readers the hypothetical scenario of transporting beer, porn and fireworks (the BPF run) across Utah’s borders. This year, I figure we can teach you about the possibility of shipping beer over state lines.
I love the selection that the Bayou and Beerhive have to offer, however, the shitheads at the DABC and the lack of refrigerated shipping options tend to keep some of the better craft beer from ever entering our state legally. Some mornings when I wake up, there is nothing I want more than a Founders Breakfast Stout and there is no way in hell that I am driving to Michigan to get my hands on a bottle. It’s all too easy to ask the question, “What if I wanted to call a friend in Michigan to ship me a bottle?” Well, that is what I’m about to explain.
Allow me to reiterate: this is a hypothetical scenario. I have never participated in any activity related to shipping beer over state lines. nor has anyone else at SLUG. That being said, let’s talk about the pitfalls of getting caught. The law basically states that you are not allowed to ship or transport alcoholic beverages into the state from another place. It’s a class B misdemeanor and you can get slapped with a $1000 dollar fine and/or get six months in jail. Generally, if you do get caught for your first time, you will receive a letter in the mail from the State Bureau of Investigations giving you a warning. This means you or your friend fucked up in the shipping process. With the correct technique, it’s unlikely that you will get caught.
Now on to the fun stuff, some tips on shipping:
We’ll work from the outside in. The box is the first thing an employee at your shipping provider of choice will look at, so avoid using a Jack Daniel’s box. I have always had the best luck finding a friend who has Wine of the Month Club boxes and taping over the art or simply changing the box and keeping the internals. Another way for you to avoid someone looking inside your box is to tag it with something like, “fragile glass” or “yeast cultures for evaluation” (which is sort of true). Finally, if you think that you are going to be doing this often or you have a friend that is willing to ship you beer back using your box, the best thing to do is buy some boxes intended for shipping bottles.
Second, there is no such thing as too much padding. The best way to put this is: wrap the shit out of it, the more the better. Just remember— the more you pad it, the less booze you can pack inside your box. The clear indicator for any package inspector is, of course, a leaking box, so one of the best tips I have ever heard is this: after padding each bottle, put it inside a zip-lock bag. In the unfortunate event that a bottle breaks, the bag will keep the liquids inside, allowing your package to make it safely to you.
Finally, it is really hard for the man to catch you if the package is not addressed to you. If you have a neighbor that is ever so conveniently out of town, it just may be time for your alter ego to receive a package. No connection, no crime.
I hope that all of these tips helped inform you of the better points of shipping booze over state borders. Of course, I know that you are a law-abiding citizen, but if you managed to read this issue out of state, and want to test your shipping skills, feel free to try out what you learned. Email me for an address.