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I live in California and I have some friends in Illinois who I would like to swap beers with. What is the best (cheap/safe) way to send a small amount of bottled beer (maybe 1-6 12oz bottles) to someone? It it even legal to mail beer across state lines?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Many people trade beer all the time.

It is legal, except via US Postal Service.

I think the laws around shipping via USPS are in flux, but without confirmation I'll suggest you stick to FedEx and UPS.

More info at:



Pack well and enjoy.

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USPS website is pretty clear that alcohol is prohibited: usps.com/ship/can-you-ship-it.htm – Henry Jackson Aug 29 '12 at 4:50
@HenryJackson I believe that was reference to Section 405 of Senate Bill 1789 which would change that. – Peter R Aug 29 '12 at 23:41
@PeterR: Interesting, thanks for pointing that out. The USPS is having enough trouble, it seems silly for them to be handicapped by a restriction like "no alcohol". – Henry Jackson Aug 30 '12 at 0:41

FedEx and UPS both require special alcohol shipping contracts that I assume are not available to consumers. USPS prohibits all alcohol shipments. However, you could just report the contents as "glassware" and I'm sure they would never know.

As for packaging, just use common sense. Glass bottles are not really that fragile — think about how they are stacked and manhandled coming off the beer distributer truck. Just pack them tight so they can't knock together and it should be fine.

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Another common line is "Live cultures" – Dustin Rasener Sep 4 '12 at 23:46

Some generic HP toner cartridges come packed in handy cylindrical bubble wrap things that are just the right size for a beer bottle. I've used those successfully, as well as just bubble wrap and paper or peanuts. As long as the bottles will not contact each other or the ground, you should be fine.

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