putting a plastic target bag into a pink ebags packing cube sitting on a hardwood floor with beer packed in a plastic bag surrounded by bubble wrap.
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The foolproof way to pack beer in checked luggage

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Beer in checked bags

I’ve often been asked if you can put beer in checked luggage. Drinking local, wherever you are, including while on vacation may lead to purchasing some beer and wanting to bring it home with you. Which, the short answer is yes you can!

However, there are many more details to consider so let’s dive into regulations and how to pack beer (cans or bottles) in your checked luggage and the best way to do it for optimal results.

TSA regulations

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) does have limits on the alcohol you can put in your checked luggage. Alcohol between 24-70% alcohol by volume (ABV) is limited to 5L or 1.3 gallons. 

But, if it’s below 24% alcohol by volume there aren’t any limitations by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration.) The only limitation that would apply would be the weight of your luggage as most airlines have these restrictions on a per passenger basis.

Beer in checked luggage

It’s perfectly fine to put beer in your checked luggage. However, packing it the right way and ensuring your baggage isn’t too heavy are the most important things. 

How much does beer weigh? It depends on the vessel the beer is in and the volume. But, a rough estimate is that a standard 12 oz can of beer will be around ¾ pounds or approximately 0.8 pounds. (A 16 oz beer is approximately one pound hence why these beers are typically referred to as a pounder.) This originated from the saying “a pints a pound the world around”. However, with the extra packing material, the overall weight in your luggage will be more.

If you’re planning on packing beer in your checked baggage, it’s smart to bring a luggage scale along with you. 

Check out my Amazon storefront, with a section dedicated to bringing home beer as a souvenir.

So, a word of advice, only bring beer home that’s really rare or you really enjoyed during your time abroad. (A brew that you need to enjoy again!) The weight can really add up and make your luggage heavy! Plan ahead and bring extra baggage with you so you can shuffle things around to create more weight that you can put in checked luggage.

Domestic vs. International flights

Generally, the guidelines for liquor or beer in your luggage regardless if you’re flying domestically or internationally are the same. As long as the ABV (alcohol by volume) is under 24% you are only limited by the number of pounds or kg you can have in your checked bag. 

But, it’s also important to check with your specific airline if there are any additional restrictions or things to consider! So be sure to do your homework.

By Airline

There may be some specific requirements depending on which airline you’re flying. For example, Southwest Airlines states that the wine, liquor, or beer must be in it’s original unopened container with the manufacturer’s label intact in order to transport it in checked baggage. 

Many of the restrictions and rules are similar across the board for specific airlines. But it’s important to check with your airline as well. Delta’s rules are very standard when it applies to the proof of the alcohol, to the TSA security rules as you go through the security checkpoint.

If you’re planning on bringing it in your hand luggage on your person, or the limit to the amount of alcohol between 48-140 proof. Technically according to the TSA alcohol carry on is permitted.

Duty-Free Alcohol

There are different rules and regulations if you’ve purchased alcohol duty-free at an airport. Typically you will purchase duty free alcohol after you go through security. The way it’s packaged will allow you to carry it onto the plane with you. Be sure not to tamper with the unopened retail packaging. 

In general, each person can bring back 1 liter of alcohol per person as long as it’s for personal use, you don’t intend to resell it and you’re 21 years of age or older. Some states may allow you to bring more back, however you will have to pay any applicable duties and fees.

Drinking your own beer on the plane?

If you bring wine or beer with you on the plane, you are restricted to the quantity of liquids that are required as a carry-on. As long as the alcohol is under 140 proof you can bring it on board with you in small amounts. 

Even if it fits within those guidelines, you are restricted from drinking your own liquor that you bring on the plane while you’re in transit according to the traveling with alcohol rules of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). If you want to enjoy an airplane beer, purchase it from the airline.

Declaring beer or liquor

As a part of the customs process when flying back to the United States from another foreign country you are required to declare things you’re bringing back with you. Some items such as agricultural products are not allowed. There is a limit on currency as well. But, bringing beer or wine back with you in your checked luggage can be considered a souvenir. There are limits for importing beer, wine or alcohol for personal use. 

A general rule of thumb for packing beer in your checked luggage is ok if you’re 21 years of age, you can bring beer back to the United States with you.

A step-by-step guide to packing beer in checked luggage

Have you ever wondered how to pack beer cans in your checked luggage or how to take beer on a plane? The best way to pack beer in checked baggage is to plan ahead! No really, if you’re planning on visiting craft breweries or even if it isn’t in your set plans but you love craft beer you might end up wanting to bring some liquid souvenirs home with you. 

I always pack in my luggage some plastic bags from grocery stores, Ziploc quart-sized bags, and sometimes even some bubble wrap. Having these things on hand is always extremely helpful and it will allow you to bring beer back home with you to enjoy later and reminisce about your adventures wherever they were.

Be sure to pack the following things with you

  • Bubble wrap (small pieces to individually wrap around beer cans or bottles.)
  • Slider plastic storage bags
  • Plastic shopping bags

[You can also purchase a beer suitcase or beer travel case, but this is a lot more clunky and the above items are a lot easier to bring with you.]

Step 1:

Wrap beer individually in bubble wrap. This is where planning ahead is key in ensuring you have the proper packing supplies is important. I don’t always bring bubble wrap but the rest of the supplies are more important. 

Step 2:

Once the beer cans or bottles are individually wrapped, put as many as possible in the slide-lock zip plastic bags. 

Step 3:

Put as many of the zipped plastic bags into a plastic grocery bag as possible. Tie the grocery bag and eliminate as much air as you can.

Step 4:

Place the grocery bag(s) full of beer into a zippered packing cube. 

Step 5:

The fully zipped packing cube, place in the center of the luggage as possible. Wrap in cubes with dirty laundry and the most padding to protect from impact. Try not to place the cubes on the outside of the luggage.

Step 6:

Be sure to have a luggage weight so you can make sure the added beer to your luggage didn’t put you over the weight limit. Truly, this is one of my favorite travel gadgets because it’s easy to bring and it makes me feel more prepared and reduces the anxiety of having to try to shuffle things around in luggage at the airport or pay overweight baggage fees.

This method of packing beer and wine (both in cans and bottles) has served me well during many international trips and domestic beer vacations in the United States. It’s one of my favorite travel hacks. Let me know if you try it!

FAQ’s 

Will beer explode in checked luggage on a plane? 

No. Your beer (or wine) will not explode when bringing it on an airplane. Changes in air pressure could cause this to happen but it’s very rare. Usually beer will not explode in your checked luggage. It is important to pack it securely to prevent leaks or the possibility it could become punctured. 

Can you bring alcohol in a checked bag if you’re under 21?

No, you cannot bring alcohol whether it is on your person or in your checked luggage into the United States from a foreign country if you’re under the legal age to purchase or consume alcohol. In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. 

Can you take alcohol on a plane in hand luggage? 

Yes, you can bring alcohol on a plane with you in your carry-on or hand luggage as long as it follows the restrictions of liquids of TSA security requirements. If you carry beer or alcohol on the plane with you, as many airlines now make passengers aware it is illegal to drink your own alcohol you bring on board.

How much does a 12-pack of beer weigh?

It depends on how the beer is packaged. In general a 12 pack of beer, without additional packaging will weigh just under 10 pounds (lbs). (A little over 4.5 kg.) Assuming it’s twelve 12 oz beers. If you’re referring to tallboys, pounders, or 16 oz beers, These weigh 1 pound per beer so that would be 12 pounds (lbs). 

Beer Travel

Many destinations that you wouldn’t really think of as having many craft beer spots will really surprise you. Italy really has a great craft beer scene in many cities. Read more about Italian craft beer in my Italian Craft Beer Guide

Minneapolis, Minnesota has a great craft beer scene across the entire metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul (otherwise referred to as the Twin Cities.) Check out the top 5 best breweries in Minneapolis & St. Paul Minnesota

Beyond visiting tap rooms and doing beer tours, there are other amazing beer experiences you can have while traveling. The best beer experiences in Europe will get you thinking about fun things to include in your next trip. 

On one of my most recent trips abroad, The Bermondsey Beer Mile is an amazing place to visit in South London. After many years, finally visiting it’s definitely a place I’d like to return to. You can’t visit all of the London breweries in one day on the Bermondsey Beer Mile

Final Thoughts: beer in checked luggage

I encourage you if you enjoy beer and have access to purchase beer while traveling to put beer in your checked luggage on the way home. If you’re a beer lover, it’s the best reminder of your previous adventures!

But, be sure to plan ahead to ensure the beer makes it back home with you! Otherwise, you may end up dealing with a bit of a mess once you return. Don’t let that deter you though, I’ve traveled with beer in my checked luggage both internationally and domestically in the United States more often than not. Cheers to great beer adventures and bringing home some of the liquid goodness to enjoy later!

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