Improving efficiency during economic uncertainty is a top priority for craft breweries. Breweries of all sizes are working with nimble teams and stretching dollars and workforce hours as far as possible to ensure the best drinking experience while maintaining profitability.
One of the most significant obstacles breweries face when implementing processes to maximize efficiencies is inventory management. Historically inventory management has been a time consuming, manual process, especially for growing breweries with multiple locations and for breweries that frequently rotate beer brands. Implementing systems that help breweries provide a consistent, high-quality experience for fans over every beer can help brewery teams reduce the resources needed to maintain control over the quality experience.
“I wanted more control over our draft lines. I was spending more than six hours every week manually weighing kegs and managing inventory using spreadsheets,” says Iker Elorriaga, co-owner and sales director of Tripping Animals, a family-owned, independent brewery located in Doral, Fla., about 20 miles west of Miami.
Tripping Animals implemented BarTrack, an inventory management and data technology company focused on helping breweries, bars, restaurants and stadiums manage their beverage alcohol inventory, last summer.
“Since implementing BarTrack, we’ve reduced the hours we spend on inventory management to just a few minutes per day. Now, because we don’t have to weigh kegs or deal with spreadsheets, our time is spent on inputting new beer brands into the system and communicating with our team,” says Elorriaga. “BarTrack’s data tells us how we can improve our processes, and helps us be transparent with our team so we can work together to reduce waste and improve beer quality.”
Along with the time consuming nature of traditional draft monitoring, managing draft line efficiencies without compromising quality is a unique challenge for breweries looking to implement new processes. Traditionally breweries have only had one in-line draft monitoring option, the turbine flow meter. These turbines have in-line obstructions, which are notorious for disturbing the flow of beer, causing excess foam and altering the drinking experience. Due to the turbine meter’s moving parts, this traditional monitoring equipment must be routinely cleaned, calibrated, and replaced. By removing turbine flow meters and manual entry from the draft monitoring process, BarTrack improves beverage quality and reduces waste through its sensor technology and real-time metrics.
Bissell Brothers Brewing Co., an independent craft brewery based in Maine, with two locations in Portland and Milo, increased its production by 30 percent last year and this year has started implementing improved processes to maximize its new equipment without jeopardizing beer quality.
“Since we are not physically expanding our production this year, we are shifting our focus to our day-to-day processes to get the most out of the beer we are brewing,” says Stephen Smith, Bissell Brothers’ operations manager. “There are plenty of options to monitor our draft beers, but most of the solutions are not friendly to the beer. The quality of beer we’re pouring is so important to us, so we love that BarTrack is a solution that leaves the beer untouched while giving us the quality feedback we were not getting before.”
BarTrack’s proprietary technology measures a dozen beverage-specific variables and produces detailed reports on keg levels, inventory, line temperature, pressure, cooler health, line cleanliness, and more. By providing real-time, actionable data on a pour-by-pour basis, breweries are equipped with the information they need to identify and eliminate all forms of waste, from tracking unrung beverages to pinpointing the causes of foamy beer.
“BarTrack is the only system that monitors metrics like temperature, pressure, and line cleanliness in real-time, which allows us to know immediately if our beverages aren’t being served at the highest quality,” says Andrew Kelley, cofounder of Aslin Beer Co. “BarTrack has essentially become a guardian for our brand through creating the perfect drinking experience for our customers. If a customer has a good experience at the taproom, they are more likely to buy our beer at the bar and the grocery store.”
Aslin owns and manages five taprooms with plans to expand to additional states this year. By using the BarTrack platform, breweries reduce waste by pinpointing the ‘where, when, why, how, and who’ it is happening. BarTrack can provide this data at the precise pour point, time, and volume. The easy-to-use dashboards and BarTrack’s experienced hospitality consultants empower management to make informed decisions.
“At Aslin, we continuously try to improve our processes, both internally and externally. We are quickly growing our location footprint, and finding tools to help us scale our tasting room operations is important. We use BarTrack’s data and identify where waste is happening. But it’s really about how we communicate that data to staff that makes the difference. We give them the opportunity to have insight into their performance and reward them for improving efficiencies,” says Kelley.
Using the data BarTrack provides, to implement new processes for teams and to reduce waste by pinpointing where and when it is happening, empowers teams and helps them take ownership in their roles.
“Our highest profit margin is from draft beer poured in the tasting room. Many breweries didn’t have the resources to implement systems to track their draft program before BarTrack. But now this solution is cost-effective and it gives even the smallest nano breweries the same competitive advantage,” says Kelley.
For craft breweries wanting to ensure the quality of beer in their taprooms and maximize the value of their beer production, BarTrack’s inventory management tools can help optimize and streamline processes by ensuring draft quality, increasing the volume of beers sold per keg, and streamlining efficiencies organization-wide.
This article was written by Hunter J. Markle, cofounder of BarTrack.