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What is a Beer Mule, and Why it’s More Important Than Ever

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Mules, the actual animal, have been used as a pack animal for over 5,000 years. Patient, reliable, and hardy, they’ve been used in a variety of applications for a pretty darn long time.

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Last month, we looked at the advantages and disadvantages of brewery presales. While they aren’t wildly used in our area, it is still a prominent tactic in the craft beer market.

One of the points mentioned in our article was how people use mules during presales to pick up and ship them their beer.

Whoa, what in the world? A beer mule? What is a beer mule?

Great question. In the beer world of fancy terms like “specific gravity” and “attenuation,” the word “mule” is both obvious and confusing all at once.

Mules, the actual animal, have been used as a pack animal for over 5,000 years. Patient, reliable, and hardy, they’ve been used in a variety of applications for a pretty darn long time.

So what does this mean for beer?

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Let’s take a look at 5 things that answer the question “What is a beer mule?”

1) What – Mules in craft beer act just like actual mules have been used in the past…to carry stuff for you. In our world, they’re people who pick up beer for others.

2) Where – Much like bottle shares, finding a mule is done almost entirely via social media. 

There are two main ways it can be done. First, when a release is announced, you can comment on that post saying something like “ISO”, or, “in search of”. People looking to hook you up will reply or direct message you to work out a deal.

The second method is when mules know they will be buying a lot of cans of that release and will comment with “Mule available”. You can then hit them up and work out a deal. 

Mules are most useful when a release is limited. Much to the credit of the haze craze, muling is on the rise. Shitlords are ticking their hazies and dropping porch bombs left and right thanks to mules, but I’m getting a little too esoteric. I digress.

3) How – When I’ve used mules in the past, I’ve always offered to pick up my beer at a location that’s most convenient for them. After all, they’re doing me the favor. 

In most cases, mules are more than happy to meet somewhere halfway between you and them since our city is so darn spread out. I’ve also met them at beer releases or even their home (if I’m familiar and comfortable enough with them, of course).

4) More How – When you use a mule, you can either go the preorder route and pay for the beer yourself, or the mule will pay when they pick up, and you can send them money via a service like PayPal.

You can always give them cash when you pick up too, but who uses cash anymore?

Again, it’s a preference thing. Obviously, presales make this easier, but since most breweries don’t utilize that method, you’ll find yourself getting very comfortable with sending money through apps. 

5) Even More How (Bell) – Muling doesn’t HAVE to cost you anything extra. However, it’s common courtesy to add a few bucks on top of that wire transfer to cover gas and time or toss them a can or two when you pick up.

I usually go with the extra money option since I’m always chasing single cans. Therefore, I rarely have extra cans.

However, it’s split pretty 50/50 in terms of money vs. cans. A bonus of the cans option is that you might get a trade partner out of the deal.  

My experience with muling has been nothing but positive. I have done just about every avenue listed above (sometimes in combination) and have been very fortunate.

I’ve met a lot of great people through my muling experience, both as someone is ISO and as someone who is muling.  

Plus, I’ve tried a whole pile of incredible beers.

Hopefully, muling can help check off some of the beers on your beer bucket list, and with the current situation, muling has never been more important. Here’s a list of Houston breweries that are welcoming mules right now by selling beer to-go, some with steep discounts and curbside service.

But if you’ve got a small trunk, or maybe it just isn’t your thing, Hop Drop still has your back.  Save 10% on your next order by clicking this link and using our code “BEERCHRONICLE” at checkout. They just added over 200 beers the other day, and there’s more beer available for delivery than ever before in their history.

Beers to you, Houston


Brent is originally from Ohio but has been in Houston for over 10 years. As an Aggie, musician, animal advocate, and Lego collector, he always has something going on. If you have an imperial stout, come find him. He’ll want to add it to his insatiable beer spreadsheet.


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Brent Topa
brent.topa@beerchronicle.com

Brent is originally from Ohio but has been in Houston for over 10 years. As an Aggie, musician, animal advocate, and Lego collector, he always has something going on. If you have an imperial stout, come find him. He'll want to add it to his insatiable beer spreadsheet.

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