What will the brewery of the future look like?
In many cases the industry, at present, is standing on the edge of an enhanced digital revolution that will bring efficiencies not only to the brewhouse but also the tap room. The COVID-19 pandemic sped up many of the digital encounters that had already been available but that are now commonplace.
In turn, the companies behind these technologies have turbocharged their innovations and offerings. A walk through the BrewExpo America last year in Minneapolis was a showcase of technology and apps as much as it was stainless steel equipment and packaging.
As brewers look to what is here and on the horizon there are a few things to be paying attention to in order to catch the wave of progress.
Embrace the QR Code
Contactless everything became a rallying cry in the early days of the pandemic and many brewers switched to QR codes for in-person ordering. As COVID-19 becomes just a part of life and earlier fears have lessened there the QR codes remain.
Brewers and consumers have found success in comfort in digital menus and easy credit card payment. There are still glitches and there will always be consumers who prefer a more analog experience so breweries will be smart to make sure that human staff is well versed in ordering via apps and can trouble shoot on site.
Also, partnering with a company with proven customer support – especially on nights and weekends when breweries are active – is important.
Keeping some paper menus available as well as chalk boards updated keeps customers informed and gives employee quick reference points as well.
Digital Pours and Monitoring
There was a novelty to pour-your-own places a few years ago. Starting in the wine space customers were able to get direct from bottle pours and pay by the ounce when it was time to settle up a tab. Some beer bars and breweries have opened similar concept where tables or seats are charged for the amount of beer dispensed.
There are safety cutoffs as well.
This technology has been somewhat limiting for beer as customers want choice and if they are at a designated location with limited selections it be difficult to taste through a lineup. Still, it’s a novelty that has promise and could be poised to work in a society that is still, somewhat, social distancing.
Behind the scenes there’s more practical applications. Draft beer loss is a real issue for breweries and bars. Foamy kegs mean a loss of revenue. Bars that have properly monitored their service and have encouraged or incentivized employees to pour properly have noticed that more beer is served and the coffers are more full.
BrewLogix, a technology company, has released a monitoring program that offers “ounce-by-ounce performance data gives managers practical tools to hit freshness and throughput goals, anticipate kick dates, predict high and low demand periods, evaluate pours remaining, and raise the financial performance of the draft program.”
In a press release Lori Bolin, President and Chief Strategy Officer for BrewLogix noted that “bar and restaurant owners know their draft programs hold a unique position in impacting the profitability of their overall operations. Our conversations with real people ‘on the ground’ revealed a frustration that spreadsheets, post-it-notes, whiteboards and other static tools are blocking the highest profit potential for draft program outcomes. Even the most intuitive and knowledgeable managers are seeking methods to streamline and automate product and information flow in real time.”
“The Performance Platform responds to the gaps the market has identified in the cooler, at the tap, and at the table. It very practically (and visually) delivers inventory data, performance metrics, product knowledge, and critical insights into the on-premise environment in ways that have never been done before,” she said.