Belfast · Northern Ireland

Subscription Boundaries

Make no mistake about it, home deliveries of beer rock. There’s a very high likelihood that many of you have received a beer delivery over the past year or so. Do you subscribe to monthly beer boxes? The answer could well be yes – there are plenty of companies offering such a service, where they send you out a selection of beer from a number of breweries every four weeks or so. But do you subscribe to a brewery box? There are a few breweries sending out their own monthly beer packages such as Northern Monk and Brew York.

Add to that list, Boundary from Belfast. Their subs box was announced in February and, being a curious spud, I signed up in March. Three options: Core, Core & Specials, Specials Only. The Specials Only box I received included 5 x doubles with a couple of singles in there too. You don’t know what you’re getting. You’re told “We keep the contents a secret. Because everyone loves a surprise!”

Some surprises are great and some make me nervous. I was buying a decent amount of new Boundary beer before subscribing, so the option of the beer coming to me without any effort on my part seemed like a good one. I don’t need to hunt down new releases, they’ll land on my door every month. Plus being a co-owner from 2015, I was given a discount. Win/win, or was it?

I’m reviewing some of the beers I received in the April box, cos I like being up to date you see. What are you rolling your eyes for, sure it’s only three months ago. The box had IPAs, DIPAs, pilsners, pale ales and stout.

Let’s start with Let Bartlet Be Bartlet. Named after an episode of The West Wing, does this 4.9% ABV pilsner have the same amount of drama? Quick answer is no. But that’s fine, a pils shouldn’t be dramatic. It should be a beer you don’t have to think about too much and thankfully that’s the case here.

Despite using German Tettnang hops, Bartlet has all the qualities of a Czech pils – pale gold in colour and super clear. It’s clean, crisp, a little bit floral, a touch bitter and and ever so slightly creamy. It’s what you want before you even realise it yourself. I enjoyed it and wish more breweries in Northern Ireland would adopt lager/pils one-off specials like this as part of their core range. 5 litre mini-kegs of local pils for summer anyone?

Having been around from autumn 2019, a rebrew of the pale ale Double Negative found its way into the case.

It’s a good opaque orange/yellow thickness and dry hopped with Idaho 7, Simcoe and Azacca, so expect a quare bucketful of pine, orange rind, pink grapefruit and mango in the glass. Basically, everything you should like in a pale ale.

With a beer looking this thick, most would expect a full on DIPA assault, but this is a 4.5% ABV pale ale so dial back the big ABV expectations. What you should expect is a very flavoursome beer. Who says you need a big alcohol level for big flavour?

Finally we’ll turn to the newly named Old Core IPA. At 6% ABV Boundary claim this is a revamped 2021 version of their IPA from back in the day when they formed in 2015. I was really looking forward to opening this one.

In the glass it’s as clear a bell and clean as a whistle – other clichés are available on request. Remember 2013 and the now old fashioned west coast IPAs of the time?

It’s a deliciously golden brown toffee colour, a shade which segues effortlessly into the taste with a reassuring toffee and biscuit malt base, pine bitterness and a welcoming hue of orange marmalade saying hello at the very back.

In this hazy fruit obsessed IPA world in which we now live, it’s refreshing and reassuring to return to a west coaster. If you’re relatively new to the craft beer scene and can’t lay your hands on this from Boundary, it may be easier to pick up an Anchor Steam Beer or Stone IPA. It’s a style that needs to come roaring back.

The subscription option is a good shout from Boundary but ultimately I cancelled as some beers reappeared in April after enjoying the March box. This ticker wanted all of the new specials but getting the same beer two months running meant it was better for me to walk into an off licence and pick up what I wanted, when I wanted.

Who’s subscribed and what do you think?

3 thoughts on “Subscription Boundaries

  1. Appreciate some of the insights from quare “swalley” I’ve enjoyed the variety and convenience Lòoking fwd to the next delivery


  2. Have to say I’ve been surprisingly disappointed by such a good brewery. The Specials sub has contained several doubles from month to month ( with last month July ) finally only containing one. Yet their Taproom is still serving several Specials that no subscribers have ever tried. Plus with new end of month delivery they now have my money two and a half weeks in advance. August will be the last roll of the dice.


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