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What are some of the best methods you've used for shipping beer (for trade, competition, gifts, whatever)? What are some packing materials / resources that are inexpensive but reliable? How many beers can you confidently put in one box?

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I have not shipped beer anywhere yet, but I was planning on ordering some styrofoam shippers, and there are also pulp shippers which are a bit cheaper. It seems like a little extra overhead in cost, but I figure it makes more sense to pack everything safely as possible. They are made for wine but I figured i could just fill any voids with tissue paper or newspaper. It is also nice that they offer different sizes anywhere from 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, or 12. Here is a good article, talking about some of the legalities and things to think about when shipping beer.

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If asked be sure to state the items inside the box are "live yeast samples" and not beer. I believe it is illegal to knowingly ship beer. I'm not positive about any of this but once heard it. –  J Times Jan 7 '10 at 18:49
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It really depends on which shipper you use. The post-office always seems to ask. But I have a UPS shipping location near me that doesn't seem to care. The few times I have been asked I just list it as glassware. That usually gets me a free "fragile" sticker out of the deal. –  brewchez Jan 7 '10 at 20:55
    
From my understanding, lying (overtly or covertly) to the USPS is a federal offense, and getting caught is really really bad. UPS / FedEx, you're just breaking their rules, which can get you in trouble with the company but no legal ramifications. I'm looking into this more though. –  hookedonwinter Jan 7 '10 at 22:04
    
Might be worth it to send an e-mail to Legal Libations, PJ: legallibations.com –  WhatsBillDoing Jan 7 '10 at 23:11
    
Yeah it seems safer shipping through UPS or FedEx. I have however had a friend ship beer through USPS without issue a number of times, but I suppose its only a matter of time before he runs into a problem. –  Jordan Jan 8 '10 at 0:24
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I was a member of a beer of the month club for a short while once. They shipped the beer in those styrofoam shippers that Jordan mentioned.

I like them and the beer always got to me in fine shape. I saved mine to use for shipping in the future.

I have also shipped beer with loads of bubble wrap and ziplock bags. Filled the rest of the box with newspaper. Works good.

Beers per box is only limited by the box size. But I try to keep it to less than 6 120z per box for weight reasons.

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I ship beer all the time and just use FedEx. I just wrap each bottle individually with bubble wrap (going around maybe 2-3 times) then place them in a box filled with packing Styrofoam or newspaper in a way so that none of the beers are touching each other or the box. Haven't hand any issues yet and I've shipped anywhere from a few bombers to 12 beers using this method.

It's also not illegal to ship beer using FedEx or UPS, just against their shipping policy. Just pre-print your label and drop it off at the FedEx store and they won't ask any questions.

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Prepackage it at home, when they ask the contents I say non-perisable food items. I reuse boxes that ingredients were shipped to me in, and reuse the packaging. Shipping charges based on weight are killer though.

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