Brewers control the quality of their beer right up to the point where it goes out the door. When a four-pack of cans, a sixer of bottles, or a growler leaves the brewery in a customer’s hands, a brewer’s job is largely done. But when beer heads out for distribution, that’s where things get complicated. Transportation, shipping, and logistics remain a challenge for most breweries, with heavy pallets loaded into heavy trucks that head to a distribution warehouse or even direct to accounts. We talked with one regional transportation company about its plans to innovate and shake up the business of transporting beer.
The Featured Topic of Innovation explores new and innovative technologies, ideas and processes in the beverage industry.
Find out why top wineries, distilleries and breweries choose Crafted ERP as their business management platform. Crafted is the only true end-to-end, industry-specific solution, built by head brewers, head distillers and winemakers as a single, unified platform that can expand to fit whatever scale you're ready to take it to.
When it comes to the raw ingredients in beer, hops get all the hype. Malt is increasingly shown the love, and water is universally respected. Yeast has its fans, and there is no underestimating its importance, but it doesn’t come up in conversation with brewers in the same way hops do.
There was a period of time, and it wasn’t too long ago, when craft brewers were urging other brewers to stay in the beer lane. Focus on the beer, don’t think about flavored malt beverages, or other liquids, some industry leaders said. Be beer manufactures, stick to the mission, they urged.
Innovation in packaging has changed as the beer industry evolved. First it was simple packaging that did not leak, then it was tighter seals and ways to fill and transport. The materials became lighter and more robust. Shapes evolved, and manufacturers found ways to make everything run faster and smoother while delivering a usable customer experience.
The wedding was mid-day, held outside, the sun was blaring, and I had a long drive home ahead of me. While those staying locally enjoyed round after round of craft lager and IPA, I sipped my Victory Pils before switching over to review the thoughtful non-alcoholic options available to guests. Among the sodas and sparkling seltzers, one option caught my eye and captured my attention for the next few hours: Lagunitas’ Hoppy Refresher.
There is a good amount of good coffee that goes into making excellent pints of beer. With early mash-in times, long hours, late nights, and then another early morning brewers are often looking for a caffeine boost.
Discerning brewers care about their coffee and over the last decade a number of breweries have added coffee roasters to their business. This has helped some open the doors to a taproom earlier to catch morning commuters or have created a robust membership bean business. Others have seen success with their coffee brands that it was spun out into a separate company.
Last year there was an uproar and worry when Ball Corp announced that it was increasing the minimum order on printed cans. There has also been concern that many of the vinyl stickers going on blank cans are mucking up the recycling stream. As brewers look for ways to get cans in front of customers and many are looking for eco-friendly options, a relatively new technology has emerged that provides on-demand printing on a small scale, allowing brewers to only order what they need.
A bill in California supported by the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUSS) would allow retailers with a beer and wine license to also sell spirit-based RTD’s, a move which would further blur the line that has traditionally existed between spirits and beer and wine.
When walking through a brewery, attention is often paid to the workhorse brewhouse, the large-barrel mash tun doing a yeoman’s lift and the large fermenters where the magic is happening. More and more these days there are little brew kits tucked in a corner or off to the side that are not as flashy, but are doing the heavy research and development lift, resulting in beers that could one day get a full commercial release. The pilot brewery.
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.
While hops get a lot of the attention from brewers and drinkers alike, and malt has intrigue, especially as the craft segment of that ingredient is on the rise, there is another area that deserves renewed focus.
Yeast is the workhorse of beer and while it is critically important, it can sometimes be taken for granted. Still, there are several advancements happening with the microbe in labs across the globe and Lance Shaner, the owner of Omega Yeast recently spoke with Beer Edge editor John Holl about innovation in the yeast space.
Kombucha is a long established beverage with a lot of passionate fans, and in recent years a number of breweries have branched out to add it to their portfolios. With a consumer bent towards “better for you” drinks and an interest in probiotics and flavor diversity both traditional and hard kombucha are gaining momentum in the general consciousness.
Beer Edge editor John Holl spoke with the Walker Brothers team – Luke and Sam Walker, along with co-founder, Caroline Howard about what is new and on the horizon for hard kombucha.
If beer was first discovered today, what would it be made with? What would it look like? How would it smell? How about those tasting notes? Innovation is arguably the secret ingredient for any brewery, but in a constantly changing industry, what would beer be like if we went to sleep and woke up in 2031? In this conversation we hear from five leading voices to discuss the expectations, evolution, and predictions on a beverage that plays a leading role in our lives.
Jeff Alworth (Beervana)
Jeremy Storton (Good Beer Matters)
John Holl (Beer Edge; Drink Beer, Think Beer)
Julia Herz (American Homebrewers Association)
Michael Uhrich (Seventh Point Analytic)
Can carriers have improved in recent years towards more recyclable options, including what has become the popular overwrap carton for cans. But cans in a box don’t allow consumers to read “canned-on” dates or other info that may be on the can and not the carrier. A new innovation has just been introduced that is a fully recyclable paper can carrier that functions in the same way as the plastic carrier.
Fishbone can carriers are paper-based and come in a variety of options and are fully recyclable.
Full story here.