And then to add in some foam between the bottles... What the internal layout looks like:
All of this foam came from packaging off graphics cards and motherboards...
The top was two layers of thicker foam, I believe from a Tyan EATX board, but it fit perfectly.
There was one layer of foam on the bottom put inside a bag to reduce the absorption of water. Then duct tape was run all around the top and bottom to secure the foam and so that bottles also wouldn't fall out. One FedEx delivery box was also cut up to reinforce the support for the foam.
The handle / black supports is actually a CaseGear ATX computer case strap that people use for transporting computers to LANs, etc. This really reinforces the foam and cardboard so no beer falls out. It also makes it possible to carry this entire crate of 20 x 0,5L Augustiner Hell bottles with one hand.
It's a bit tiresome though carrying an entire crate of Augustiner with one hand plus suitcase, backpack, etc.
First leg of the flight was on a B767-400. It made it safely without any broken bottles or frozen beer.
And back to Chicago all safe...
So it was quite easy bringing back an entire crate of Augustiner into the United States. The 20 bottles only cost 15 EUR with pfand/tax included at Rewe in Munich. I'm also posting this thread because the rules for US Customs for importing beer are not clear... Technically their rules state you can only bring as much beer/liquor/wine as you can consume for personal use, but anything over 1L must be assessed a duty and tax fee, including by the IRS. But I've never actually been assessed that when bringing lots of beer.
Even on the trip this week with the entire crate, I declared all of the beer and was obviously clearing customs while carrying this entire crate in plain sight, but the CBP officers didn't seem to glance twice at this massive taped-up crate and made it through just fine. The only extra looks I received from anyone were Bavarians smiling when seeing Augustiner in the airport.
On trips where I bring back beer in my suitcase and don't bother declaring it, but then end up getting searched in secondary-screening by US Customs and they see the beer, they don't even seem to care. It usually ends in conversations about Oktoberfest, etc and not about the beer being undeclared or any duty/tax. So it's nice for bringing beer into the United States, but doesn't put much faith in the abilities of US Customs & Border Patrol.
Though now that I have an Augustiner crate in America, where I can use it for dimensioning. next time I'll be designing a proper carrier out of wood/composite materials rather than relying upon duct tape and cardboard.
And now there's Augustiner in America to celebrate the release of PTS3-Iveland and OpenBenchmarking.org in just a few days and might also bring some Augustiner to SCALE in LA. Anyhow, if any fellow beer connoisseurs have any questions about bringing beer into the United States, just post away...