Friday, June 19, 2009

Local brewery (temporarily) expands

Optimistic bottles: Not half empty, but half filled...

I am seldom late for work, even by the obligatory rive minutes; I live far to close to the office to ever establish a genuinely feasible excuse. But, then again, I also seldom find my (albeit unlawful) bike route through town obstructed by a fully operational industrial beer bottling operation, sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, noisily huffing through cases of bombers, which is exactly what I encountered yesterday. And but oh, what a brilliant scheme it is. For those of you who have ever wondered, how exactly does a modestly sized brewpub manage to dispatch bottles of four of their releases to accounts far and wide without painstakingly doing it by hand well past the 25th hour of the day, or by utilizing a contract brewer, here's your answer: a door-to-door bottling line:

No bikes or skateboards, fancy mobile bottling machines a-ok

That's right: The whole kit and caboodle rolls right off the back of a truck, plugs in to the tank line, and away it goes. Place labels on roll, empty bottles on the one end, caps on the crimper, and some waiting arms and empty cases on the other end, and you're off. Plenty of folks have seen what a bottling line looks like, but encountering a system like this running at full tilt in the middle of the street is nothing short of a spectacle.
Lining them up while the Altman crew looks on

Of the many good things Christian Kazakoff has brought to Iron Springs, it would seem his dedication to a bottling program has had the greatest apparent impact. Hard at work well before most folks were even up, he, Phil and Mike were already well on their way to filling the 200 cases of empty bottles that had arrived that morning, and by the time I rode past on my way home, there was nary a trace anything fishy had taken place, all the gear packed back up onto the truck, cases put away, but for a stray bottle here and there.
Bottle labels boasting a beer's water source have a long tradition

It's a beautifully reasonable solution, too, one that allows a brewery to flexibly make decisions about expansion without levying the enormous risk inherent in moving beyond "being a brewpub" and "getting on shelves". If it turns out to be a successful venture, you can always stage an encore performance with higher case numbers, and if it ends up applying too much pressure to your bottom line, you can simply write it off as an experiment to revisit later on. There's no equipment to learn, maintain, and pay for, no space to rent, and no fear of outgrowing the scale of your operations. At the end of the day, it's back to business as usual.
One down, 199 cases to go...

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Blogger Good Burp said...

That is amazing. A brilliant idea. I need to remember this. By the way, I like your blog. You have a new fan.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Leigh said...

nice work! i could do with this as I prepare to spend the morning bottling my homebrew (easily the most boring job in the whole brewing process!)

7:12 AM  

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