You’ve probably heard that craft beer means big business for entrepreneurs. New faces on the scene, such as Newburyport Brewing Co., are selling more than 5,000 barrels (bbls) in their first year of business, while established craft names such as Dogfish Head hold strong. The popularity surge in craft brewing has changed the way manufacturers do business.
Small batch manufacturing has placed an emphasis on quality rather than quantity, so everything from the packaging and labeling to the product is enjoying an upgrade. If you’re an emerging brewer, your first concern is going to be the flavor and body of your brew, but don’t forget about the glue that holds it all together.
You can’t sell your product without packaging, and your production volume will largely dictate the type of packaging and shipping materials that make the most sense for your brand. When considering manufacturing cost, ease and efficiency, adhesive may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but this small choice can create a huge impact on your break-even analysis and first years of success. To help you understand the impact adhesive can have, we’ve highlighted a few key sticking points.
Emerging breweries (less than 5,000 bbls)
It’s true, more than 90% of breweries only make 1,000 bbls of beer. For these brewers, it’s important to invest in high-quality ingredients to ensure each beer gives customers the biggest bang for their buck. At the same time, those operations may not be able to afford large manufacturing and packaging equipment, so labeling, small batch capping and case closure become manual labors of love.
For small breweries, handheld glue guns work as a jack-of-all-trades for these tasks. Many handheld guns can double up for label work and packaging without changing the adhesive melt. Handheld guns give brewers total flexibility and control over the packaging and bottle presentation because all application would be done by hand. As an emerging brewery, this emphasis on brand presentation and attention to detail may just be the thing that sets you apart from new competition.
Mid-size brewers (5,000-20,000 bbls)
Once your brewery has earned a name for itself and manufacturing has grown beyond the labeling capacity of a small team, it’s time to choose a bulk melt system. Bulk melt adhesive guns save money when you purchase adhesive pellets in bulk. The adhesive system tank also allows the product line team to glue for longer periods of time before a refill.
An end-of-line bulk adhesive applicator will take care of all your case closure needs, but you may also want to upgrade to a labeling system as well. Whether your small-batch team uses spray adhesive or ready-to-stick labels, labeling by hand can be time consuming and tedious, which is why many mid-sized businesses enjoy the speed and precision of outsourced labeling services or small batch labeling machines. After all, time is money.
The next big thing (20,000+ bbls)
You’ll know you’ve finally made it when you need to invest in custom line equipment for bottling and boxing. Take a page out of Summit Brewery’s playbook and consider Graco’s revolutionary tankless Invisipac adhesive system. The Invisipac is the first tankless bulk system on the market and a true game changer for emerging manufacturers. The vacuum-controlled applicator creates a continuous stream of adhesive that is perfectly regulated for more precise application and temperature control. Summit Brewery saves money by using the Invisipac’s stitching application and avoids time lost on the assembly line for bulk tank refills and cleaning.
When every second and every penny matters, choosing an adhesive applicator that fits your production style and batch volume can have a huge impact on where you can invest your remaining time and money. It may not be as glamorous as what’s in the bottle, but it is equally as important.