When did brewing beer become a chore? I have fond memories of the days that I would roll out my custom 10 gallon brew deck into the backyard and spend the morning relishing in the aroma of malted barley and boiling hops. Spending the rest of that afternoon enjoying the spoils of last months brews and conversing with great friends.
These experiences are why I originally chose brewing as a profession. For the first years of my professional career, I was learning and continuing to grow as a brewer, and I developed a passion for creating works of art in a pint glass. It wasn’t until I started managing my own breweries that I began to understand the pain of actually running a brewery as a business.
Maintaining impeccable records, keeping hops that were frequently unavailable from suppliers in stock so I didn’t run out of the precious West Coast IPA, and struggling to remember where I put my pen so I could record my mash out time were just a few of the headaches that began to consume the majority of my time as a “brewer”.
I began to lose sight of what it was that drove me to choose a life of schlepping spent grain and dragging hoses. Managing the business side of my brewery had begun to suck the passion out of my career. I wanted to remember why I started brewing in the first place, and this set in motion my first attempt to hone my business operations.
I started with an assortment of spreadsheets for tracking inventory and forecasting ordering, which grew into another mess with a whole new set of problems. Deciphering bad handwriting and wort smudged brew logs was doing nothing but detracting me from formulating my next masterpiece. Management software quickly became the clear choice for solving these problems.
Finding a solution to help automatically track inventory, generate reports, and rid the brewery of paper documents was going to be a big win for my breweries. At that time brewery management software solutions did not exist, so I continued with spreadsheets, longing for the day that I could use a piece of streamlined software to make managing my brewery operations easier.
Fortunately, today, there are a wide variety of platforms out there that can help with these issues. From free schedulers to full fledged enterprise level ERP systems, if you’re struggling with your management and need help, there is a software solution that will meet your brewery’s needs and budget.
All that said, management software isn’t for everyone. If you have a small brewery that is making a few hundred barrels of beer a year, your operations are dialed in, and you aren’t looking to grow much beyond your current production, it probably doesn’t make sense to spend the time and money to invest in a system that is built to help you grow as a brewery.
However, if growth is your goal, it’s a good idea to start looking at ways to streamline your business, and management software is a great place to start.