CSA boxes are like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: You never know what kind of local, sustainably farmed, organic, heirloom tomato you're gonna get. Sign up for the Brewlab club, however, and one thing's for sure: Your monthly shipment will pack a buzz.
Not only will you get beer -- you get home-brewed beer, not sold anywhere.
Founders Sam Gilbert and Emily Ford have recruited an army of homebrewing minions who craft creative brews for the monthly-ish brew pack. The operation manages to skirt the law, at least so far, because nobody is paid to brew. Brewers are reimbursed for their ingredients and consumers are urged to contribute an optional donation.
Members get to try bathtub-fermented brews with names like Motley Brue Cleveland Steamer, and they also get to supply feedback to the home brewers.
Many diehard beer geeks spend countless hours studying for the Beer Judge Certification Program, but you can sit in judgment of your peers with a quick click of the mouse and an optional donation.
Because the home brewers have varying levels of experience, you're bound to get a mixed bag. In SFoodie's tour of a Brewlab six-pack, we found a lackluster, watery ale nestled next to the deliciously roasty, hoppy "Stormy Weather" India Black Ale.
The Brewlab folks hope to introduce themed packages and other treats in coming months. An "experimental beer" shipment could boast beers with ingredients as diverse as bacon and ginseng.
Unfortunately, memberships are in waitlist limbo, as many people seem to be interested in monthly shipments of free beer (file under: "duh"). Gilbert hopes to sign up more home brewers and expand the customer list soon.
Until then, meet the gang and sample some beers at a Brewlab party on Sept. 23. Learn more, get in line for beer, and volunteer your brewing talents here.