Microbrewery taxes simplified; The quick guide to the complicated world of beer taxes

Microbrewery taxes simplified; the quick guide to the complicated world of beer taxes

Taxes for a microbrewery are super complicated. It can be difficult to know what to expect, when in the planning stages of a brewery.  The following article is a guest post by Daniel Hicks that gives a good overview of what you need to know when it comes to paying taxes on the beer you brew.


How Microbrewery Taxes Really Work

A common question I get asked is, “How do microbrewery taxes work?” Depending on who is asking the question, and whether or not we both have enough beer in hand to discuss the process without getting a headache, I give them one of two answers.

The simple answer is breweries (and brewpubs) pay federal taxes on beer that has been sold. Once money has been exchanged for your beer, Uncle Sam wants his cut of the action.

The complicated part of the taxes question is figuring out how much taxes should be paid, when they need to be paid, and the paperwork process involved in making sure everything is reported properly.

But before we go any further…

Disclaimer: Use of any information from this article or any other website referred to in this article is for general information only and does not represent personal or commercial tax advice either express or implied. You are encouraged to seek professional tax advice for tax questions and assistance.

Ok, you’ve been warned.

Down the taxes and operations reporting rabbit hole

If you’ve already been seriously researching how to start a brewery, or if you’re already wading neck deep in the process, no doubt that you’ve heard of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). This agency handles all of the Federal regulatory issues, paperwork, and licensing for breweries.

Federal excise taxes for breweries are closely intertwined with another set of documents called the Brewer’s (or Brewpub) Report of Operations (BROP). The BROP reports describe how much beer was made, how it’s being stored (bulk, kegs, bottles/cans), as well as accounting for beer that might have been used for testing, moved from a different location, sent for export, or even destroyed or missing/stolen. Essentially, if you make beer commercially you will need to account for ALL stages of the beer’s life until it’s either drank by a happy customer in your tasting room or shipped out the door for sale.

There are 2 versions of the BROP: Form 5130.9 for Breweries or Form 5130.26. These forms and their instructions can be found on the TTB website at: http://www.ttb.gov/beer/beer-forms.shtml.

The Excise Tax form is known as Form 5000.24.

How much tax you pay, when you pay them, and when the BROP and excise reports need to be filed all depends on how much beer you plan on making and how much taxes you plan on paying over the whole year.

BROP Reports – Forms 5130.9 and 5130.26

Form 5130.9 is a more elaborate operations form based on the old (pre-2015) standard form for breweries. Larger breweries will need to report using Form 5130.9. It been slightly simplified as you no longer need to report on ingredients used.

Form 5130.26 is a simpler form based on the old standard form for brewpubs. Smaller breweries and brewpubs can both use Form 5130.26 for operations reporting.

The amount of tax you owed last year and the amount of tax you plan on owing this year determine which form you should use for your operations reporting.

If your tax liability was more than $50,000 last year (if you were in business) or you plan on it being more than $50,000 this year, you need to file your operations report monthly using Form 5130.9.

If your taxes were less than $50,000 last year and you plan on owing less than $50,000 this year, you can file your operations reports quarterly, and you have the choice of using either Form 5130.9 or Form 5130.26.

The due date for all operations reports is the 15th day after the end of the month in which it is due. For example, if you file your reports monthly, your March report must be filed by April 15. If you file your reports quarterly, your Quarter 3 report (which ends September), must be filed by October 15.

The TTB provides a list of the most common BROP reporting problems on their website. The most common mistakes are from math errors or misinterpreting what is required on the forms. Unfortunately, the forms are not intuitive and mistakes are easy to make. When in doubt, ask. Your TTB agent will be able to provide an official answer to your questions.

We’ve put together a pdf that explains the most common pitfalls people have with the BROP reports. Check it out and download it here.

Excise Tax – Form 5000.24

The standard due dates for filing Form 5000.24 and paying tax is twice per month (semi-monthly) except for September. In September, taxes are due a total of 3 times and these dates vary depending on if you plan on mailing a check or paying by electronic funds transfer (EFT). More information about September rules can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §25.164a.

If you paid less than $50,000 last calendar year and you plan on owing less than $50,000 this year, than you have the option to pay taxes and file your return quarterly.

As of January 1, 2017, if you paid less than $1,000 last calendar year and you plan on owing less than $1,000 this year, then you have the option to pay taxes and file your return annually.

If for some reason your brewery bonds become insufficient (bonds are a whole other discussion) or if you become delinquent on tax payments, you will be “asked” to start pre-paying your taxes. You will then need to file an Excise Tax report and prepay tax before any consumption or sale. Additionally, you will also have to file an additional semi-monthly Excise Tax report that essentially reviews all of the prepaid taxes during that period. Your job as a brewer can quickly turn into that of an accountant if you are required to pre-pay your taxes. Avoid at all costs!

The due dates for the semi-monthly and quarterly tax scenarios can be found at http://www.ttb.gov/tax_audit/fed_ex_tax_due.shtml. The due date for the annual return option is January 14 of the next year.

The standard tax rate for beer is $18 per barrel. You may qualify for a reduced tax rate of $7 per barrel for the first 60,000 barrels you produce if you plan to produce less than 2 million barrels in that calendar year. After you’ve reached 60,000 barrels the tax rate jumps back to $18 per barrel.

Note that an Excise Tax Return form 5000.24 is due even if no tax is owed!

Staying organized is the key

If there’s some advice that I can give to help brewers with their taxes and reporting, the first piece would be to get organized!

Brewers are required by the TTB to keep daily records. However, most of the brewers I’ve talked to don’t do enough organizing up front before the taxes and reports are due. Because of this, the typical amount of time it takes to prepare these reports correctly is one or 2 days.

Invest in more filing cabinets than you think will be necessary or spend some time brushing up on your spreadsheet skills, so that all of the information is at your fingertips when you need it. Few things are more frustrating than trying to hunt down a missing brew log under a looming deadline from the TTB.

The second piece of advice I can offer is to give our product, TTB Tamer, a test drive with a free trial. TTB Tamer is an online tool where all of your brewery operations reports can be stored as they happen. Then when a report is due, all you need to do is click “print” and the correct forms are printed out for you.

After that, just mail in the form with any payments. This can significantly reduce the amount of time required for generating reports and determining how much tax is due.

In addition to Daily Records, Report of Operations, and Excise Tax form, TTB Tamer can help you with state reporting requirements.

More information about TTB Tamer can be found at ttbtamer.com.

So as you can see, tax and reporting requirements are definitely not small parts of the brewery operation. I hope this helps shed some light on what the processes are like.

NOTE: There have been ongoing efforts to reduce the tax rate for small brewers. As of the time of this writing the tax rates changes have yet taken place, but who knows what’s in store for 2017!

ED NOTE: This post was originally published on April 21, 2014. There have been significant enough changes that update this piece and change the date.

Image showing New Dollar Bill by Dave Winer on flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) was modified from its original state.

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My #1 tool for growing an email list: optinmonster

My #1 tool for growing an email list: OptinMonster

The last few posts were about email for breweries. Why your brewery needs an email list. What your brewery can do with an email list. And how to keep your email list healthy. Now I’m going to talk about the number one tool I’ve used to grow the MicroBrewr email list automatically. You can use this strategy for your brewery email list, too.

And there’s a discount code for OptinMonster to get 10% off too! So read all the way to the end, to find out how to get 10% off OptinMonster.

Alex Standiford make an excellent case for using email marketing to fill your taproom and ultimately, sell more beer. Still not sure how important an email list can be for your brewery’s marketing? I was on East Brother Beer Company’s email list long before they opened. When they finally made their debut, I was in their taproom within a week.

My #1 tool for growing an email list

The best tool I can recommend to collect email addresses on your website is OptinMonster.

You know those pesky pop-ups that ask if you want a special something, but you have to enter your name and email address? Well, they work wonders for growing your email list. Everybody hates them, but every webmaster knows they work.

It’s a simple thing. A visitor can click the X to opt out if she doesn’t want to bother with it. And if your offer is enticing, she will gladly sign up to your email list in exchange for your special offer.

Maybe you want to give a coupon to redeem at your taproom. Or invitations to special events. Or the homebrew recipe to your most popular beer. Create an outstanding offer, advertise it on your website, and watch your email list grow while you sleep.

“The first place to add your incentive is on your website,” says Alex Standiford. “Add a signup form in a prominent place in your website.”

That’s where OptinMonster comes in.

OptinMonster has several options. Pop-ups can be set to load on only certain pages, or can be set to load after a certain amount of time. Their “exit intent” revolutionized the game by displaying when a visitor was about to leave the site. Now their “welcome gate” claims to double the rate of new subscribers. That’s just a few.

And of course, mobile optimization is super important. Almost half of the MicroBrewr email subscribers come from mobile (currently 47%!), so pop-ups are designed to work for those visitors, too.

If you want to see how well OptinMonster is working, it’s super easy to see all the stats and what’s working best. Plus A/B split testing let’s you do multiple similar opt-in forms, let them run a while, then switch to the ones that work best or make adjustments accordingly.

If all this sounds a bit salesy, perhaps it’s because I’m pretty excited about OptinMonster. I’ve been using it on MicroBrewr since 2014. And the number of subscribers doubled right away. It doubled again after I improved the incentive offer. Obviously, I couldn’t be happier with OptinMonster.

If you want to grow your brewery’s email list from your website, you have to use pop-ups. I recommend OptinMonster, it’s simply the best I’ve found.

Discount code for OptinMonster – 10% off!

The folks at OptinMonster are not only cool, but super generous. They agreed to give us a 10% off coupon when purchasing OptinMonster.

Click on this link and check out OptinMonster.

And be sure to use this discount code for OptinMonster to get 10% off: WPB10

Now I have a question for you:

What special incentive will you offer through OptinMonster pop-ups, to grow your email list?

In the comments section below, tell me how you will use OptinMonster. What incentive will you offer to new subscribers? Type your idea below and share with us all the details so others can adapt the idea.

Image showing email_icon by Gregg O’Connell on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its original state.

 

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How to build a healthy email list for your craft brewery

How to build a healthy email list for your craft brewery

So now you understand that email must be an integral part of any craft beer marketing plan. And we’ve given you 51 ways to use email. Now in this last of 3 posts by Alex Standiford, you’ll develop a deeper understanding for the nuances of running a healthy email list for your brewery.

Alex Standiford is a web designer and a WordPress developer. He loves craft beer and wants to contribute to the community in a way that will make an impact. One way he does that is through his Brewio WordPress Theme for breweries and his Easy Beer Lister WordPress plugin, which can easily load your entire beer menu onto your website. The plugin is completely customizable to pick which beers are on tap today, and it can display your beer menu on a TV screen in your taproom. Both Brewio WordPress theme and the Easy Beer Lister WordPress plugin are free.


How to build a healthy email list for your craft brewery

My favorite strategy to keep a taproom full is with an effective email marketing strategy. This is a powerful tool that keeps people engaged in your brewery, and gives you plenty of opportunities to promote your business. Email campaigns are only as effective as the size and health of your email list, so in this article we’re going to talk about how to build a healthy email list for your craft brewery.

What you should not do with an email list

Although an email list can be purchased online, don’t do it. First off, it’s illegal in the US to mass-email an individual without their prior permission to do so. That’s called spam. If you do this, you will get blacklisted and will lose your digital “license to send marketing emails,” and that’s just not good.

Besides, it’s just not a cool thing to do. Nothing will turn off a customer faster than bugging them about your business offerings without their expressed interest in the first place. Annoying your customer is never a good way to promote your business, so avoid it.

Now that we’ve established what not to do, let’s talk about ways you can build your email list.

Offer a compelling incentive to join your email list

When faced with an opportunity to get added to your list, your customer will probably ask “What’s in it for me?” In other words, “Why should I sign up for your email list?”

To develop a large email list, give away something that you don’t give away to anyone else. These exclusive offers will make your customers want to subscribe to your email list. You could offer something special, such as a special membership or first dibs on invites to exclusive keg tapping of new batches. For a good example of this, check out Dogfish Head’s Mug Club offering.

Related: I have built a 20-point list of irresistible brewery offerings that will help you grow your list. You can get that here.

Start with your website

The first place to add your incentive is on your website. Add a signup form in a prominent place on your website, and show your compelling offer. Try to keep anything you write about the offer focused on what’s in it for the customer. Explain in clear terms exactly why it would be a good decision for them to sign up to your email list. If possible, place the form where it will be seen by as many of your website visitors as possible. Tell anyone who enjoys your beer about your great offer to join the email list.

RELATED: My #1 tool for growing an email list

Use your brewery

Create a print version of your online form, and place it in your taproom. Every day or so, add the new names to your email list. This straightforward strategy has 3 primary benefits.

First, since the opt-in form is at your physical location, it’s more likely that your list will be full of local people. The local customer is the most likely customer to visit again, so it’s important that you find ways to build a list of locals. By nature, a website is global, so it can be difficult to keep your list dedicated to the nearby customers.

The second advantage is that you can watch people interact with your offering, and get unique insight on what is or is not working. This will allow you to make adjustments to your offering, both online and in the taproom.

Third, this gives you the chance to not only capture traffic on your website, but also traffic that comes through your taproom. Not everyone will visit your website, or feel compelled to sign up for your email list until they’ve visited your taproom. This is where most people form their opinion of your brewery, so it’s a great place to ask them to stay in touch.

Leverage events

Events can be a huge opportunity to build your email list. I wrote about how to build an email list from beer festivals. Offer what you normally offer on your website opt-in form, but add an extra bonus incentive just for signing up at the event. People are in a hurry to move on to the next booth, so you need to make a compelling reason to stop them long enough to sign up. This bonus offering should cost little, or nothing at all. And be sure the added incentive is reason enough to stay subscribed to the email list. The problem with offering swag is that it does not give the person a reason to stay on the list, and you will end up spending a lot of money on a list of customers that may unsubscribe just after signing up. Make it a goal to obtain valuable email addresses, and your list will stay healthy, and will continue to grow.

Email frequently (but not too frequently)

Once you get a list of people signed up, deliver that special incentive you promised, and start sending some content. Once you have a person on your list, you must commit to sending messages to them with some frequency. If you don’t, they will forget who you are and why they signed up. Soon your email will be marked as spam, which possibly results in your domain getting blacklisted.

On the flip side, if you email them too frequently, people will get annoyed by the barrage of emails filling their inbox and will unsubscribe. And maybe mark you as spam! The key is to find the best frequency for your list. I typically recommend no more than 2 emails a week starting out, and no less than 2 a month. This is a fairly safe starting point for almost any business, including your amazing craft brewery.

Send more than event invites

I mentioned in another article that email is a transactional medium. Technically, you could send nothing but event invites to your list, but your list will probably see some unsubscribes, and lackluster growth.

Most people who sign up for your email list expect to be sold to, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer some value as well. For example, an email with a homebrew recipe of your most popular beer doesn’t directly bring people to your taproom. But it does build relationships, which in time, can lead to better interactions and strengthened relationships.

Marketing, at its core, is getting people to know, like, and trust you. Send emails to make all 3 of those things happen, and you’ll find better results in the long run.

Image showing Little Creatures Brewery Patio by Monica D. on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its original state.

 

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51 things your brewery can do with email

51 things your brewery can do with email

So now you understand that email must be an integral part of any beer marketing plan. But what can you do with email?

In case you’re still wondering, Alex Standiford and I brainstormed 51 different ways that you can use email for your brewery. Keep reading the entire list below, then check out the next post to learn how to build a healthy email list for your brewery.

Alex Standiford is a web designer and a WordPress developer. He loves craft beer and wants to contribute to the community in a way that will make an impact. One way he does that is through his Brewio WordPress Theme for breweries and his Easy Beer Lister WordPress plugin, which can easily load your entire beer menu onto your website. The plugin is completely customizable to pick which beers are on tap today, and it can display your beer menu on a TV screen in your taproom. Both Brewio WordPress theme and the Easy Beer Lister WordPress plugin are free.


51 things your brewery can do with email

The goal of marketing is to get someone to think of you first when they want a product. Email campaigns are a great way to achieve that.

The best email campaigns build relationships and educate your customers. Event promotion is important for your fill-your-taproom strategy, but unless you build a good relationship with your customers in the first place, nobody is going to care about the events that you email them about.

The best brewery email strategies focus on 1 of 3 different types of emails.

  1. An email that builds relationships with customers
  2. An email that educates customers about your story and your product
  3. An email that invites customers to visit you in person

If your emails focus on a healthy balance of all 3 of these types of emails, your list will stay healthy and your taproom will stay full! Here’s 51 different emails that you can send to your customers, organized by each of the 3 different email types listed above.

Related: If you’re looking for some information on how to build your email list, I have written a 20-Point Guide to Building Your Brewery Email List that is packed with information on how to do just that.

Use email to build relationships with your customers

Winning awards for your beer helps gain notoriety and reputation, but there are more impactful ways to sell more beer. Simply put, if your customers like you, they will choose your beer first. These emails are designed to do just that.

  1. Share food recipes for pairing with your beer. Especially your customer’s own recipes (with permission and a kind link to her Twitter or Untappd account).
  2. Share recipes of your beer scaled for homebrew.
  3. Offer a friendly homebrew competition on one of your beers with your shared recipes.
  4. Link to a special recent post on your social media.
  5. Share photos from a recent event.
  6. Share funny/crazy stories, and behind the scenes happenings at the brewery. Lagunitas Brewing is especially good at this, and their colorful stories on their labels has a profound impact on their branding.
  7. If you play music at your brewery, share your playlist with everyone via Spotify. Introduce the playlist with a primer about the feel you want the playlist to bring.
  8. Ask your customers to help you name your next upcoming brew.
  9. Give your creative customers a chance to create a label. Rich Weber from Sierra Blanca Brewing Company shared some great points about this on MicroBrewr Podcast 019.
  10. Use SurveyMonkey to send a free survey and gain valuable demographics and consumer insight.
  11. Ask what their favorite beer is.
  12. Ask what beer they want you to brew in the coming season.
  13. Ask for ideas about the taproom.
  14. Ask, ask, ask. Learn about your customers so you can provide a product they want and serve their desires. Who knows, maybe your customers want a nice quiet place to do some work and have a beer or two. You’ll never know until you ask.
  15. Well wishes for national holidays.
  16. Well wishes for beer days like National Beer Day and International Stout Day.
  17. Well wishes for other weird “holidays.” You can find a ton of these at com.
  18. April Fools Day is a great opportunity to send a faux beer release. Visit http://www.strangebrew.ca/beername.php, and use it to help come up with a wacky beer name. (e.g., Farty Cinco de Mayo Yellow Extra Special Bitter)

Use email to educate your customers

These emails are great to teach customers about your beer. You will also be able to gauge how interested or knowledgeable they are in different aspects of beer, which will help you figure out what events you should host.

  1. Talk about common beer traits, and what pairs well (or not so well) with them. (e.g., If you’re sensitive to spice, avoid drinking an IPA with your buffalo wings.)
  2. Profile new releases, in emails to your customers.
  3. Profile a staff member.
  4. Explain common brewery terms, such as IBU, ABV, and OG.
  5. Tell the story of your name.
  6. Share why you started the brewery.
  7. Talk about your logo.
  8. Describe your brewing process.
  9. Talk about how temperature impacts beer flavor.
  10. Talk about different drinks that can be made with your beer. (e.g., a stout float)
  11. Talk about when it makes sense to choose a lower ABV.
  12. Talk about where you source your ingredients.
  13. Weekly hours of operation or changes to schedule.
  14. Explain the story behind what inspired you to create the beer you made. Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series is a great example of this.
  15. How to savor a beer.
  16. How to pair beer with food.
  17. How to identify “off flavors” in beer.
  18. How to age beer. Especially if you have a barrel-aged program or if you offer beers that would age well.
  19. Talk about glass shapes, and why they exist. This could be a great chance to sell branded glassware, if you have it!

RELATED: My #1 tool for growing an email list

Use email to fill your taproom

Be sure to look beyond a single email. A lot of the emails in this post could be used in combination for hosting an event at your brewery. For example, you could write something that talks about how temperature impacts beer flavor, and then host an event where people purchase a growler, and then drink it over the course of a few hours, noting the difference in flavor with each glass.

  1. Invitations to tastings. Offer VIP early entry for your email subscribers.
  2. Coupon for a free tasting flight for a friend when you buy one tasting flight or pint for yourself.
  3. Set an exclusive time to pick up pre-orders.
  4. Offer a free branded product, such as a glass or a T-shirt to customers who buy something, such as a tasting flight, or growler, on a specific date. Only notify your email subscribers about your freebie.
  5. Host creative events, such as jam sessions and open mic. If you’re reserving slots for the event, allow your email list to reserve well before everyone else.
  6. Host a league or competition for Cornhole or another fun game. Keep all members updated via email on the status of the league.
  7. Invite people to a themed event like Oktoberfest. Serve beer specific to the theme. Offer early access to email subscribers.
  8. Send a series of “beer school” emails, educating customers on the basics of beer, then invite them to a beer event hosted by the brewmaster, or a Certified Cicerone®.
  9. Host a cheese and beer pairing event. Have a certified cheese expert come in to talk about the different cheeses.
  10. Host guests such as beer writers, local chefs, or collaboration brewers.
  11. Host a listening party of your favorite new CD, or a viewing party of the season finale or your favorite TV series.
  12. Special events just for email subscribers.
  13. Announce food such as new menu items, menu changes, or food truck schedule.
  14. Announce upcoming releases with VIP, early tasting and Q&A with the brewer just for email subscribers.

Strategy is key. Think through the emails you send out. Don’t just haphazardly send invites to events, prime your customers with informative emails first. Think about your campaign from start to finish, and consider all of the information that could be sent before the event date.

Pay attention to and track interactions with your customers to learn about their needs, and figure out what interests them most. This will empower you to make informed decisions about what events to host, and when to host them. Soon you won’t have any difficulty keeping your taproom full.

Image showing found typewriter by Andy Smith on flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.

 

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5 reasons every brewery needs an email list

5 reasons every brewery needs an email list

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if your brewery doesn’t have a website, it doesn’t exist. You know you also have to be at least on Facebook and Twitter. Instagram and Untappd also work well for many breweries. But don’t neglect email marketing as a key part of your online strategy.

Email is important for many reasons and Alex Standiford will illuminate the entire email strategy in the next 3 posts.

Alex Standiford is a web designer and a WordPress developer. He loves craft beer and wants to contribute to the community in a way that will make an impact. One way he does that is through his Brewio WordPress Theme for breweries and his Easy Beer Lister WordPress plugin, which can easily load your entire beer menu onto your website. The plugin is completely customizable to pick which beers are on tap today, and it can display your beer menu on a TV screen in your taproom. Both Brewio WordPress theme and the Easy Beer Lister WordPress plugin are free.


5 reasons every brewery needs an email list

The inherent trouble with social media is that many breweries believe that it’s the only tool they need in-order to promote their business online. I hope to shred that belief apart in this article, and explain why you need to build your email list. Don’t get me wrong, social media has its place in online marketing, but not the best tool to actually convert people to visit your taproom. I have come up with 5 reasons why you need to put more time and effort into your email list.

After you read this article, if you want to learn more about how to build your email list check out my 20-point guide here. I promise that if you apply the information I show in this guide that it will help you get plenty of email subscribers.

Email gets more views

According to Forrester, 90% of your emails get delivered to the target inbox, but only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed. In other words, if you sent a message to 1,000 people on your email list, and then sent that exact same message to 1,000 people on your Facebook feed, 900 of your email subscribers would see the email message, but only 20 people would see the Facebook post.

To me, this is the #1 reason to build an email list. Why should you put so much effort and focus on a Facebook page, when only 2% of the users actually see what you’re sharing? Much of that effort would be better spent on growing an email list, where 90% of the people who chose to follow you will receive your message.

Email is a known as a transactional medium

With email, people expect that you’re going to try to sell them something when you email them. In fact, 60% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 20% who prefer social media. With more robust social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, there are many ways to connect with your business. If they choose to connect with you through an email subscription, they expect and want to be sold to.

According to MailChimp’s email marketing benchmarks, email campaigns across the board get a 22% open rate on-average, and 2.8% of those people click through to whatever it is you’re trying to send them. Not only is 22% higher than most social media platforms, those people are the ones who signed up for your list, expecting to be sold to.

When you promote an upcoming event via email, the people you’re reaching out to won’t mind. In fact, many of them are anticipating it, and will be glad to get that message. If your list is healthy, and you’re offering great products, you can expect to see some boost in taproom traffic from this strategy.

Email is a targeted medium

One of the most outstanding features of email is segmentation. When you send an email, your list’s actions will tell you things. If you’re listening, you can use this information to determine which subscribers get which emails. This is powerful, because it allows you to send 3-5 different emails to the people on your list who actually want those emails, without flooding your subscriber’s inbox in the process.

For example, let’s say that you have a recipe that pairs exceedingly well with one of your beers and you want to share that recipe with your email list. Chances are, not everyone on your list cares about food and beer pairing, and many of them probably don’t want to be bothered with this information. Instead of sending the recipe to everyone on your list, you can keep your list healthy and happy by only sending the recipe to the people that you know would like to get food pairing recipes from you. This ensures that your subscribers are getting a great experience from you because you’re only sending them what they want to see.

It takes less time (if you do it right)

My favorite thing about email marketing is the automation. Entire email campaigns can be automated if you plan them out ahead of time. This set it and forget it approach will save you time, and help you stay consistent with the execution of your strategy.

Another reason why email takes less time goes back to the expectations when someone signs up to an email list. Most people don’t want to receive an email every day, heck, I’d wager that most people want no more than 2 per week at most. To me, this means you get to cut the crap, and only send the best quality content, and offerings at your disposal. Sending an email to your list is a conscious, strategic move with a clear purpose, which makes it extremely efficient, unlike many other strategies out there.

RELATED: My #1 tool for growing an email list

It reaches your customers on mobile

According to Pew Research Center, 92% of online adults use email. And 53% of those messages are read on-mobile. Most smartphone users have at least one email address on their phone, and every smartphone comes with an email app out of the box. Many of those people receive a notification when they receive an email from that address. This means that many people who you send an email to will be notified about your email instantly, and many of them will look at it right away.

Conclusion

Email has many strengths that are unique to the platform. The numbers don’t lie—email offers consistency. It’s relatively easy to know what to expect when you send a message out, and that visibility can make your business grow in a predictable manner. It naturally works well with social media because email attracts customers from a different angle than most social media sites. This makes it the best companion for any online marketing strategy.

Image showing Studious by Bruce Guenter on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.

 

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How big should my brewery be?

How big should my brewery be?

How big should my brewery be? How many square feet do I need for a brewery? How large of a facility should I get? As the host of a podcast about how to start a brewery I have spoken with over 70 brewers, brewery owners, and other experts in the craft beer industry. So I often hear this question from listeners around the world.

Of course you need to consider a number of factors to determine the size of your brewery. For example:

  • Size of your brew system
  • Your annual production capacity
  • Barrels of beer you plan to brew each year

Just the business model plays a major role in deciding how many square feet you’ll need for your brewery.

  • Brewpub serving only on-site consumption
  • Nanobrewery with taproom and no distribution
  • Production brewery with complete bottling, canning, and kegging lines

As you could imagine, there is no one-size-fits-all size requirement. It’s a tough question to answer, but an important answer to find out.

If your brewery is too small, you’ll be crowded for space.

“We did not anticipate the need for more cold storage or bigger brewing system,” says Patty Elliot from Pecan Street Brewing in Johnson City, Texas.

“Even though we have a big building, we don’t have a large area for Sean [the brewer] to store kegs in and we only have four serving tanks. So serving tanks have to get low enough that he could keg off, that it will fit in the keg storage area, so that he could brew another beer. So we’re constantly fighting the battle… and we’re desperately wanting to get more cold storage space.”

And if your brewery is too large, you waste precious money on the startup cost for square footage that won’t be used.

Yet, with craft beer’s explosive growth that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon, you’ll likely be expanding operations not long after opening.

When MicroBrewr founder, Joe Shelerud asked 61 brewers in late 2013, “What do you wish you had known before starting your brewery?” nearly 20% of the responses were that they should have planned their expansion from the start.

“I would have built a larger infrastructure at the outset,” says Brett Tate from Dust Bowl Brewing Company. “We’ve expanded the operation and reached capacity production three times since we started brewing in 2009. We’ve now maximized what we can fit in the footprint of our current building… Our new site will, or course, have room to grow, so at least we’ve learned!”

Space requirements for a brewery vary greatly

If you read the books about starting a brewery and online beer forums, you can find magic formulas to tell you how big your brewery should be.

For example:

  • 1,000 square feet, per barrel of brewhouse running at capacity
  • 1 to 1.5 square feet, per barrels produced, per year

JVNW’s website has a lot of information and brochures with specifications and resource requirements. As a manufacturer of brewing equipment, they work with a lot of different breweries in a huge variety of configurations.

JVNW’s sizing recommendations are:

  • Complete brewery: 0.5 to 1 square feet, per barrel of yearly capacity
  • Sacked malt storage: 0.15 to 0.25 square feet, per barrel of yearly capacity

Again, a number of factors will affect the space requirements for your specific brewery and configuration. For example:

  • Size and number of vessels in the brewhouse
  • Size and number of fermentation vessels and bright tanks
  • How many batches you plan to do each week

Incidentally, JVNW says the average staff requirement is 0.75 staff per 1,000 barrels of yearly capacity. Whereas, Lakewood Brewing, the one who recommends 1,000 square feet per barrel of brewhouse, has 22 staff for about 10,000-15,000 barrel production. So about 1.76 staff for every 1,000 barrels—roughly double what JVNW recommends.

So my takeaway is just that the stats vary greatly.

Space requirements for breweries on MicroBrewr Podcast

To get a handle on exactly what the square footage requirement is for a small craft brewery, MicroBrewr Podcast listener, Akhilesh Pandey dug into the stats from the show notes.

Another podcast listener, Peter Stillmank from Stillmank Brewing Co. in Green Bay, Wisconsin, asked for these stats to get a better picture of our discussions in MicroBrewr Podcast. At episode 41, I started asking for specific statistics including: size of the brewhouse, number of vessels, annual capacity, and square footage.

For this exercise, we were concerned only with how many square feet are required for a small craft brewery.

So Akhilesh dug into the numbers and plotted them into a spreadsheet. He compared each brewery’s annual capacity to its square footage, and calculated the square footage per barrel of yearly capacity.

What were the results?

Well, we looked at the data from 20 different breweries from all over the U.S. plus one 1 in Ireland. (We had to leave out a few due to incomplete data.) Models include everything from a tiny nanobrewery in the basement of a hotel, all the way up to a large production brewery with international distribution, and everything in between. We’ve spoken with nanobreweries, brewpubs, and production packaging breweries.

If we take the total square footage for all breweries and divide it by the total yearly capacity of all breweries, it equals 0.8 square feet required per barrel of yearly capacity. This gives sort of an industry-wide efficiency, but it doesn’t really look at what each brewery is doing on an individual basis.

Craft beer is a young industry. It’s home to a wide variety of players with varying levels of experience, knowledge, and preferences. So the range of their space efficiency is extremely wide.

When we calculate the square footage per barrel of yearly capacity at each individual brewery, the maximum was 40 square feet, the minimum was 0.2 square feet, and the average (mean) was 4.6 square feet per barrel.

Square footage per barrel of yearly capacity at 20 craft breweries in the U.S.A. and Ireland:

Calculation method Square feet per yearly barrel production capacity
Maximum 40.0
Minimum 0.2
Average (mean) 4.6
Median 1.6
STD Dev. with 99% confidence 2.16
Range 39.8

That seemed kind of high. I thought maybe the average was being skewed by outliers.

So I checked the median. The median is 1.6 square feet per barrel of yearly capacity.

Median is often used to calculate skewed data sets. It sort of cancels out those outliers like the nanobrewery that uses a whopping 40 square feet per barrel produced, and the brewpub/production brewery that somehow blasts out a full barrel of beer for every 0.2 square feet they occupy.

Now, I’m not a mathematician, I don’t recall much from Statistics class. But Akhil has more insight to offer.

“The average the way you have it there,” he writes by email, “is not the right method because it does not eliminate the outlier.”

Akhil looked at the “standard deviation” (I remember that term from Statistics class) and found that those few data points that are just so far from the others, don’t really help us. They’re considered oddballs. By taking off the 3 outliers from the end, Akhil can get 99% confidence in his calculation.

With 99% confidence, we can guess that your brewery would need 2.16 square feet per barrel of yearly capacity.

So there you have it

How much space do you need for your brewery in planning or for your next expansion brewery?

First figure out how many barrels of beer you plan to be able to produce per year, your total capacity.

Then figure on needing about 2.16 square feet per barrel of yearly capacity.

Another way of looking at it, says Peter, “When you purchase your building, divide the square feet by 2.16 to figure out what the building’s [annual production] capacity is. When you reach this [production level] it will be time to move.”

Special thanks to longtime MicroBrewr Podcast listeners, Peter Stillmank and Akhilesh Pandey for your help on this post.

Image showing Blueprint by Will Scullin on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.

 

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Homebrew craft beer club. And then I never left the house.

Homebrew craft beer club. And then I never left the house.

Noble Brewer, the world’s best beer club. 20% off homebrew by mail with coupon code: MICROBREWR http://microbrewr.com/noblebrewer

10% off with coupon code: MICROBREWR

It’s not exactly legal to sell homebrew and send it in the mail. But Noble Brewer, the brand new craft beer club, figured out a way to do it in accordance with all laws, and boy am I glad.

Full disclosure: Use of the Noble Brewer coupon code below will give me a small commission. This does not affect my superb review of Noble Brewer’s service. I think it’s awesome. That’s why I signed up. That’s why I called up the CEO, Claude Burns and asked him to give MicroBrewr audience a discount.

Anyway, I saw Noble Brewer on Twitter, and I didn’t really get what they were up to. Months later, after some more Twitter action, I went to their site, and my jaw dropped.

How the craft beer club works

Noble Brewer sends quarterly shipments of homebrew to your door.

Noble Brewer sends quarterly shipments of homebrew to your door.

Noble Brewer interviews dozens of homebrewers and selects the very best. Then they connect the homebrewer with a commercial brewery to make a limited-release batch of the homebrewer’s award-winning recipe.

And you get it at your front door.

Your beer subscription arrives each quarter, with two beers in four, 22-ounce bottles. It comes with a short bio of the homebrewer and cards for taking notes, so you can fill it out and send it back to the brewer and let them know what you thought of their beer.

I’m glad somebody finally figured out the whole TTB, brewery license, alcohol-across-state-lines thing. Because I have a few friends who home brew, but now I have more friends whose homebrew I get to try!

Can you tell I’m still a little excited about beer by mail?

Listen to: Noble Brewer on MicroBrewr Podcast.

What’s in the beer subscription box?

Noble Brewer Dudeling was brewed by Jonathan Fuller.

Noble Brewer Dudeling was brewed by Jonathan Fuller.

A few days ago I received my second shipment of my craft beer subscription box. It came with my free t-shirt and two Spiegelau IPA glasses. After a frenzy of excited social media posts, I sat back in the shade of the back porch and enjoyed a California Farmhouse Ale by Jonathan Fuller.

Who’s Jonathan Fuller? Get to know him or any of the brewers on Noble Brewer’s website. I filled out the card and sent back my detailed assessment of his handiwork. It’s great, by the way!

It’s a craft beer club. With homebrew.

That’s homebrew. To your door!

Homebrew, presents in the mail, what could be better? 20% off, that’s what.

10% off homebrew beer by mail

Go to the Noble Brewer website, and get 10% off homebrew beer club with this coupon code: MICROBREWR

 

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Cans or bottles surprising results from two blind taste tests.

Cans or bottles? Surprising results from two blind taste tests

I was in The United States of L.A. at a friend’s home when I had a crazy idea. “Cans or bottles!” I exclaimed to Tim as I raised my head out of the refrigerator.

Tim stared back at me, not really sure how to respond.

“Cans or bottles,” I nodded. “We’re going to test it, right now.”

He smiled back. Another one of my crazy ideas.

“Let’s go,” I clapped my hands. “We have to go to the grocery store.”

 

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Does canned beer taste better?

When I ask the MicroBrewr Podcast guests whether they prefer cans or bottles, surprisingly, not many talk about the flavor of the beer inside. There are emotional answers, just that they prefer one to the other. Lots of respondents say that cans protect the beer better. Not many mention flavor.

One of the few to talk about flavor is Maximus Bumsoo from London Ale & Co., the exclusive distributor of London Pride in South Korea. “Definitely cans,” he says. “I don’t know why, but even with London Pride, the cans taste better. The can is more smoother taste-wise, I think.”

If it’s true that the can protects the beer better, then I should find that canned beer tastes better than bottled beer. I wanted to know for myself.

I was so curious that I recently did a couple of blind taste tests to see if there really is a difference between beer packaged in cans, versus beer packaged in bottles.

I did blind taste tests with 2 sets of friends.

The first time, we knew it was a “cans versus bottles” test. We had the same beer, side-by-side, one from a bottle, the other from a can. We were trying to evaluate the beer and trying to see whether we could determine which came from the can and which came from the bottle.

The second time, my friends didn’t know anything about the packaging. I told them that they had 2 different beers of the same style. I asked them to describe the differences between the two and tell me which they liked more.

The results are surprising.

Blind taste test, Part 1

For the first experiment, we used 3 different beers. Tim and I chose beer styles on the milder side. A really strong flavored beer would potentially mask any differences imparted by the packaging.

These are the 3 beers for the first taste test:

  • Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boont Amber Ale
  • Saint Archer Brewing Company, Pale Ale
  • Ballast Point Brewing Company, Pale Ale The Original
Taste test one: Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale, Saint Archer Pale Ale, Ballast Point Pale Ale.

Taste test one: Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale, Saint Archer Pale Ale, Ballast Point Pale Ale.

Tim’s passion and his expertise are in wine. His apartment has more wine glasses than beer glasses. So we compared each of the beers in wine glasses. One marked with a charm, the other not.

The objective was to taste each beer side-by-side. It was a blind tasting, so we didn’t know which was which. We were to describe the beer to discern whether there were any differences. Then we had to guess which came from the can and which came from the bottle.

Tim poured for Sebastian and I. Then I poured for Tim.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boont Amber Ale

First up was the Boont Amber Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

Now, let me say that I entered this whole exercise with a bias toward bottles. Call me old-fashioned—and my bias is diminishing, especially after hearing from so many can advocates on MicroBrewr Podcast—but I prefer bottles.

So for our first test, without knowing which was which, I picked the charm as being from the bottle. I liked that one better, so I assumed it was the bottled beer. In fact, it was the canned beer.

Sebastian also preferred the canned beer. Upon tasting the one with the charm, he immediately exclaimed, “I love this one. This is it.” He tasted again and said that all the flavors work together in the canned beer.

In the end, Tim liked the bottled beer better. However, he incorrectly picked this one as the canned beer. Coincidentally, I marked his with the charm the same as he did for Sebastian and I. He said the one without the charm had “far more carbonation and flavor.” So he thought it was the canned beer because when he opens a can of his favorite American macro lager, it always has a lot of carbonation and foam.

Even on the first beer in the test, we were all surprised how different the beers were in aroma and flavor, but sometimes even in appearance.

Tim said the flavors in the canned beer were muted, it had less flavor overall. “You can’t get a lot of malty good juiciness,” he said.

Like Tim and I, Sebastian said the bottled beer had a “sharp” flavor. He further described it as “GMO.” I don’t think he meant it literally, but just as a general criticism, perhaps a vague notion of something lacking. Although he did say that the bouquet came out more in this beer.

I felt the canned beer was lighter in color, had more flavor, and the malts were more pronounced. The bottled beer had a sharp flavor and I wondered whether it was a metallic flavor. Yet overall, the bottled beer had less flavor.

To recap: All three of us guessed incorrectly. Sebastian and I preferred the canned beer, while Tim preferred the bottled beer.

It was interesting that Tim felt the bottled beer had more flavor, but I felt it had less flavor. We all agreed that the “sharp” flavor in this beer was absent or less intense in the canned beer.

During the process, Tim and I each recognized that our own pre-existing preferences—mine for bottled beer and his for canned beer—were affecting our preference during the test and affecting our choice about which was from the can and which was from the bottle.

Saint Archer Brewing Company, Pale Ale

Second was the Pale Ale from Saint Archer Brewing Company.

Before we knew which was from the can and from the bottle, I preferred the beer with the charm, so I again picked this one as the bottled beer. This time, I was correct!

Sebastian said the one without the charm had a “weird metallic funk to it.” He should have agreed with his initial perception; he eventually picked this one as the bottled beer, but it was the canned beer.

Tim preferred the canned beer. He said it was more crisp and more flavorful.

Tim and I each perceived a definite difference between the two. But in different ways.

Tim felt that the canned beer was more flavorful. He said it was more crisp, it had bigger, bolder flavors, and gave a flowery sensation. In the bottled beer, he said, “You get that [same flavor], except not as flashy and fresh.”

Overall, I felt the bottled beer had more flavor. In the bottled beer, I sensed aromas of crayons that were not present in the canned beer. I also sensed distinctly more intense flavors of orange peels and hops in the bottled beer.

At first Sebastian could tell a difference, but then he couldn’t. Maybe his taste buds were getting tired from this Pale Ale that seems to me more like an India Pale Ale.

To recap: Tim and I each guessed correctly, but nearly opposite. I liked the bottled beer better, saying it was more flavorful. Tim liked the canned beer better saying it had more intense flavors.

Sebastian guessed incorrectly, but I think he would have got it right if he had stuck with his initial reaction. At first, he was sure the canned beer had a weird “metallic” flavor and aroma and he preferred the bottled beer. After a while, he couldn’t tell a difference. He tasted back-and-forth several times until he was thoroughly confused.

With this round, Sebastian decided that he really likes Amber Ales. He asked to have more of the first beer, the Boont Amber Ale. Alas, this is science—we must continue the study!

Ballast Point Brewing Company, Pale Ale The Original

Lastly, we tried Pale Ale The Original from Ballast Point Brewing Company.

Perhaps this sampling had the greater difference between the canned beer and the bottled beer.

I preferred the canned beer over the bottled beer. While I felt that the aroma from the canned beer had hints of oil-based paint and the flavor was like orange (the color, not the fruit), I felt the canned beer had a crisp, sharper taste. It just tasted cleaner, better. Whereas the bottled beer had less aroma, less flavor, and tasted kind of funky.

Sebastian preferred the bottled beer, which he felt had a nice citrus aroma. He said the canned beer smelled like pee and smelled like wet hay. He said the canned beer tasted more mellow, less pronounced than the other.

Tim, on the other hand, said there was “not a huge discernible difference in flavor [between the two].” Upon further investigation, he noted that the bottled beer had more popping floral aromas, while the aromas and flavors of the canned beer were muted. He ultimately preferred the bottled beer over the canned beer.

To recap: All 3 of us guessed incorrectly about which came from the can versus the bottle. I liked the canned beer better. If pee smell is undesirable in beer, then Sebastian preferred the bottled beer, as did Tim.

 

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Blind taste test, Part 2

After the first taste test, I realized it was too complicated, we should simplify it a bit. Huffington Post published in 2012 a very simple test with interesting results. Check it out here.

Tim suggested a good idea: Do the test again with new participants, but don’t tell them anything about cans versus bottles. Five days later, I caught my friends Jon and Kelly in Santa Cruz, California.

I told Jon and Kelly that I would pour them 3 different beer styles:

  • Lager
  • Amber Ale
  • India Pale Ale

For each style, Jon and Kelly believed that they had 2 different beers side-by-side. Their instructions were to describe each beer and tell me which they preferred.

Here’s what I poured, unbeknownst to Jon and Kelly:

  • Anchor Brewing, Anchor California Lager
  • Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boont Amber Ale
  • Ballast Point Brewing Company, Sculpin India Pale Ale
Taste test two: Anchor Brewing Anchor California Lager, Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.

Taste test two: Anchor Brewing Anchor California Lager, Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.

Jon and Kelly are each teachers. Kelly felt it would be prudent to have a rubric with which to judge the beers.

They are a new couple, having been dating for a couple months. Jon has been homebrewing for a couple of years. Perhaps Kelly’s rubric was secretly intended to mask her intimidation.

We came up with this rubric:

  • Color/appearance
  • Head/carbonation
  • Nose (aroma)
  • Taste/aftertaste
  • Body (mouth-feel)

I didn’t participate in the second tasting because I already knew what the selection was.

In truth, by the time we got to my turn we were kind of tipsy. The previous beers had warmed up a bit. Jon threw in a bunch of different beers from his fridge. Kelly had trouble keeping up with the notes. It was kind of comical. Not at all scientific.

Anyways…

Anchor Brewing, Anchor California Lager

The first blind taste test was Anchor California Lager from Anchor Brewing.

I didn’t tell Jon or Kelly what they had tasted until they were done with all 3 beers. Jon carefully studied the two before deciding that he definitely preferred the bottled beer.

Kelly also much preferred the bottled beer.

Like in the previous test with my other friends, Jon and Kelly noticed a definite difference from the canned beer to the bottled beer.

Jon described the canned beer as light, not heavy carbonation, smooth, watery. He said it had a light tint of malt flavor and more aftertaste than most lagers.

Then he tried the bottled beer from the glass. “Woah,” he said certainly, “this one is better.” He said that the bottled beer had much more body, more carbonation, and less nose. He said it was more typical of lagers in its lack of aftertaste.

Kelly described the canned beer as a backyard, afternoon barbecue beer. She said it was light in color. It had more head to begin with, but then it felt flat in her mouth.

“It’s okay,” she said, reflecting on what she felt was a really strong front-taste.

In the bottled beer, she felt that the aroma was much less strong. She noted that the carbonation remained much more intact. It started off with less foam, but still felt more carbonated. She said the aftertaste was stronger than the front-taste.

“I don’t think I would drink that one again,” Kelly pointed to the other glass with the canned beer.

To recap: Jon and Kelly both liked the bottled beer more than the canned beer.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boont Amber Ale

Second for Jon and Kelly was the first for Sebastian, Tim and I: Boont Amber Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

Jon preferred the canned beer. He said it smelled malty, like a pretty typical amber. He said the flavor was pretty characteristic of an Amber Ale, with a crisp malty flavor, a mild flavor, a little bit of a sweet taste, and a hint of allspice like an autumn ale. “It’s good,” he said with a shrug, “unmemorable. Very drinkable.”

When he tasted the bottled beer, he said it didn’t have a lot of nose. It tasted more carbonated. He felt it was “definitely on the lagery end of an amber.” He concluded, “It’s not as good. It’s not as sweet. But I’d order more of that one.”

Kelly also preferred the canned beer. She said it smelled sweet, kind of like molasses. “I like the color,” she said of it’s foggy appearance. “The color is very appealing to me.” After tasting it she said certainly, “This is very good. Whatever the sweetness is, it’s delicious.”

Again, there were differences between the two. Jon said the bottled beer had a little bit of a malty flavor, whereas the canned beer had a sweet flavor, but not the malty sweet.

Kelly again noticed that the head of the canned beer decreased rapidly compared to the bottled beer. She described the canned beer as having more of a licorice aftertaste that the bottled beer did not have. Kelly noted that the bottled beer was clearer in appearance and the foam persisted more.

“I can’t smell anything off of it,” said Kelly of the bottled beer. “Nothing.”

Kelly said the bottled beer had less flavor, but more carbonation. It had a weird aftertaste that the canned beer did not have.

To recap: Both Jon and Kelly preferred the canned beer.

Ballast Point Brewing Company, Sculpin India Pale Ale

Last of all, was the Sculpin India Pale Ale from Ballast Point Brewing Company.

Jon preferred the canned beer. It was clearer in appearance. “This one definitely has a piney-er nose,” Jon said. It had “a much more sophisticated body. It has a nice balance. You can taste that it’s an IPA, but it’s not defined by the hop character.”

The bottled beer was “spot on, for an IPA,” said Jon. He said it had a “subtle nose for an IPA. Some pine [aroma], but not really noticeable unless you take a strong whiff.”

Kelly preferred the canned beer quite a bit more than the bottled beer.

She grimaced when she tasted the bottled beer. “I don’t like that one.” She pushed the glass away. “I don’t even want to drink the rest of that.”

Jon and Kelly both noted that the bottled beer appeared cloudier than the canned beer.

Kelly also noticed that the canned beer had thinner foam than the bottled beer.

“Out of all the beers this evening,” she noted of this bottled beer, “it is maintaining it’s head the best.”

To recap: They both preferred the canned beer.

 

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Conclusion

Winners of blind taste test part 1

Anderson Valley Saint Archer Ballast Point WINNER
Nathan can bottle can CAN
Sebastian can bottle bottle BOTTLE
Tim bottle can bottle BOTTLE
WINNER CAN BOTTLE BOTTLE

Two out of 3 participants preferred bottles to cans, 2 out of 3 times.

Two out of 3 beers tasted better in the bottle than in the can, 2 out of 3 times.

Overall, bottles had 5 votes and cans had 4, just a 1-vote margin!

Winners of blind taste test part 2

Anchor Brewing Anderson Valley Ballast Point WINNER
Jon bottle can can CAN
Kelly bottle can can CAN
WINNER BOTTLE CAN CAN

Both participants preferred cans to bottles, 2 out of 3 times.

Two out of 3 beers tasted better in the can than in the bottle, 2 out of 3 times.

Overall, cans had 4 votes and bottles had 2—twice as many for cans!

Winners of blind taste test part 2 (with hypothetical tie-breaker)

Anchor Brewing Anderson Valley Ballast Point WINNER
Jon bottle can can CAN
Kelly bottle can can CAN
Nathan (hypothetical) can bottle bottle BOTTLE
WINNER BOTTLE CAN CAN

It would have been good to see whether a third person could have thrown off the dominance of the can. If I had voted opposite of Jon and Kelly, it would have made it more even, like the first taste test, but reversed. Overall, cans would have had 5 votes and bottles would have had 4.

Limitations of the study

None of us are BJCP-certified beer judges, we’re all just beer drinkers. We represent the average beer drinker, spanning a range from occasional beer drinker to passionate homebrewer.

UPDATE (1/10/2017): I have since become a Certified Beer Server. I published all of my study notes on BeerExamSchool.com. If you want to get a job in the craft beer industry, if you want to better evaluate beers, or if you just want to learn more about this amazing beverage, check it out!

In this study we did not consider these variables:

  • Shipping climate and conditions
  • Age of the beer
  • Variations in the packaging line
  • Drinking vessel

We have no way to know the shipping climate for any of the beers we sampled. Some could have been in a climate-controlled container all the way from the brewery to the retail outlet. Others might’ve travelled in an uncooled trailer through California’s scorching San Joaquin Valley.

I didn’t check a shipping date or packaging date between the canned beer and bottled beer. One might’ve been older than the other.

With the exception of my tour of Anchor Brewing, we’ve never seen the breweries. And if we had, we have no way of knowing whether the canning line had recently been cleaned, or if it had been a while for the bottling line.

Additionally, after Jon learned that he was drinking the same beers side-by-side in all 3 rounds, he pointed out that all of the bottled beers that I served were in short glasses, compared to tall glasses for all of the canned beers. This is certainly the reason that Jon and Kelly each noticed less aroma from the bottled beers.

And we never touched a draft beer in this study.

Bias affects perception

Here’s an interesting thing. After I tasted all of my beers and learned the results, I admitted that I am biased toward glass bottles.

To my knowledge, aluminum beverage cans are lined with a thin plastic film to prevent corrosion. I don’t trust plastic. Maybe it’s rational, maybe not, call me paranoid, I’ve read a lot about it. It is a bias, it’s my opinion. It affects my perception even when I don’t realize it.

The point is, whichever beer it was that I liked more in each taste test, I guessed that was the one from the glass bottle. Yet based on the beer alone, I preferred the canned beer 2 out of 3 times.

Sebastian was also biased toward bottles, he didn’t like cans at first. His preferences confirmed his bias—he liked the bottled beer 2 out of 3 times.

Tim claimed to be unbiased, but he previously thought that canned beer was always more carbonated. Yet he found out that to be not always true.

Before the taste test, I asked Jon what his favorite beers were for the given styles. He said one of his favorite Amber Ales is Boont Amber Ale from Anderson Valley. Yet during the blind taste test he said, “Neither are amazing. The [canned one] is more enjoyable for the style of amber that I prefer.” So it’s interesting that he was given one of his favorites, but without the label he said it was “unmemorable.”

These are the sorts of biases that affect a customer’s decision to buy a beer in one packaging over another.

Often these are the biases that also affect a brewery owner’s decision to put their product in a can versus a bottle.

Ultimately, this taste test confirmed that sometimes customers prefer the taste of bottled beer, sometimes they prefer canned beer. The packaging doesn’t affect the customer’s perception of the product. While the packaging does affect the customers decision to purchase the product, those biases are being broken. So use whatever you think works best for your business plan and your marketing plan.

And if you want further reading about the industry’s perception, check out The Session 98. and this recent post recapping the survey from guests on MicroBrewr Podcast.

 

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The Session Beer Blogging Friday by Brookston Beer Bulletin The Session 98 Roundup.

The Session 98 roundup: Cans or bottles?

Thank you everyone who contributed to my self-serving blog topic: Cans or bottles? MicroBrewr is all about starting a brewery. One important question is how to package the product.

The price tag is pretty hefty for a commercial line for cans or bottles. Either one could cost hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. So the question is important to anyone planning to start a brewery. Luckily, recent developments in mobile canning lines and mobile bottling lines have significantly reduced the price and the barrier of entry.

But the dilemma doesn’t stop at the bottom line.

It’s not just about what the customers want, cans or bottles. Clearly trends are shifting. Many people still holdout for bottles. Meanwhile cans, which once carried a stigma, are increasingly accepted and sometimes even sought.

It’s not just about the brewer’s preference for cans or bottles. Some purport that bottles protect the beer better, while many claim the same for cans. Of course brewers and brewery owners are not immune to the same personal preferences that sway decisions for customers. So their claims of logic in the decision are likely blemished by bias also.

To try and figure it out, since undertaking MicroBrewr last June, I’ve asked every guest of the podcast this same, simple question: Cans or bottles?

Some people think the debate is dead, but clearly people are still talking about it. It’s still worth discussing. Some of the guests find the question difficult to answer and some find it quite a dilemma.

Check out a more in-depth study of their answers in my contribution to The Session 98:

Cans or Bottles? 27 industry experts reveal their preference.

And here’s the page with ongoing tabulations.

 

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Here are the other contributions:

David Preston at Beer Tinted Spectacles writes a bunch about milliliters. Evidently the bloke is a Britton. I had to keep Googling conversions. He calls a 12-oz. can a small can, and says that’s the common size in the U.K. for soda, but not so much for beer, in which they have a much wider variety of serving sizes. In the U.K., beer in cans can be bought in 14-oz., 16-oz., or 19-oz. varieties. Be careful when you order a pint in Great Britain, you’ll probably get a 19-oz. “Imperial Pint” rather than the 16-oz. size you’re used to in the U.S.

His piece isn’t just about serving size. I really like that Preston dives into the whole notion of perception. “We say rational. We do irrational,” he admits. And it’s not up to us. The views of “opinion formers”—brewery owners—“are now impacting drinkers behaviour and perceptions.” But who cares he asks, “If beer drinkers become accepting of both, then that’s good for beer isn’t it?” Tune in for the plot twist that he sends us on in the last graph.

The Beer Nut writes from Ireland, next door to—but not part of—the U.K., which would be Northern Ireland. To commemorate The Session, he drinks and writes about 4 British beers, one of them is from a can. Mostly his piece just makes me thirsty. He does provide a link to another blog that argues against the ability of lower priced canning lines to seal out air. Alas, he writes, “For the moment I’m not fussed what a brewery puts its beer in, as long as what comes out is [high quality].”

Another Dubliner, Reuben Gray at The Tale Of The Ale, writes of one canned beer: “I’m not going to talk about the beer inside the can because it tastes the same as the draught version.” Then he presents pros and cons for cans and for bottles. In his presentation cans do seem best. Yet he does remind us in an asterisk that the plastic liner inside cans is made of plastic, which contains chemicals, a point that I keep having trouble getting past.

Jeremy Short at Pintwell writes specifically about a taste test of “a classic”: Pilsner Urquell. This beer lost a recent taste test among his friends, but he loves it. He has his wife pour the canned version and the bottled version so he can do a blind side-by-side comparison. Perhaps not a scientific study, “I had 50/50 odds anyway,” he admits. He doesn’t need such odds in his favor. “It was mind blowing to me how different the two beers were.”

You’ll have to read his post to find out which he prefers. Though I’d take it with a word of caution. I’ve done 2 separate cans versus bottles blind taste tests with friends. It was usually pretty easy to discern a difference in appearance, aroma, and flavor, but sometimes is was the canned beer that we preferred, and sometimes it was the bottled beer.

Related: Cans or Bottles? Surprising results from two blind taste tests

Derrick Peterman writes at Ramblings of a Beer Runner. “Plenty of beers come and go,” he writes, “but we’ve just got one planet. So the question for me boils down to whether bottles or cans are better for the environment?” Great point. I used to make my entire voting decisions based on this one notion. But I don’t mean to turn this into a political discussion. He writes of pollution during transportation, chemicals and energy use during manufacturing, percent recycled content. And finally he concedes, “No one really knows,” and he cites sources for this.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” is the phrase. And they’re listed in order of importance. Kegs and growlers are meant for reusing. And Peterman offers a neat, recycled (if I may) solution for single-use containers, too.

Alan McLeod from the Beer Blog has an interesting contribution, albeit a recycled one (there I did it again). He repurposes a post from 2006 that includes emails with the “Lead Singer” of Oskar Blues Brewery. Of course Oskar Blues is something of a pioneer for craft beer in cans. We have them to thank for their foresight and risk-taking, at the time anyway. As it turns out, the whole thing was some sort of a sick joke. Check out the piece for the full story and the definitive history of how we came to enjoy great craft beer in cans everywhere.

Craig, or someone else, at Oregon Beer Life kind of writes off the topic. I mean he wrote it off. I mean he wrote… Gosh it’s getting late. Well, he said that he has already written so much about this topic, that it seems like he has nothing more to write. Instead he just links to some other posts, mostly cans versus bottles taste tests.

Then a discussion at a book signing urged him to write more. He points out that mobile canning lines and mobile bottling lines make it cheaper than ever for startup breweries to put their beer and their dreams into packaging for distribution. “It’s increasingly less important these days,” he says, “for startup breweries to have to consider can or bottle packaging equipment if this option is available to them.” It’s a great point. I agree with him that, “to a certain extent I don’t think this question is as necessary when considering starting a brewery as it once was.” What great times in which we live…

Dan “the web nerd” of Community Beer Works ponders that they will one day have to make this decision for their brewery. In the meantime, fearing nothing new to contribute to the discussion, he does a taste test. His is not blind, he apparently poured the beer for himself. Although, I appreciate his efforts to keep it as “scientific” as possible. (His quotation marks, not mine.) Like Short at Pintwell, Dan notices a significant difference between the two.

“I can only say that because I’m sitting here doing my damndest to compare the two,” he admits. “If I had the bottle today and the can next week I probably wouldn’t notice much difference.”

After that, he throws us for loop. Then he admits, it’s all about laziness.

Liam at Drunken Speculation seems… I’m not sure what he seems. I’m not sure what to make of his feelings on the topic, although this is purportedly his first contribution to The Session in 6 months. So that helps alleviate some of my worries shared by some previous hosts about my topic being unworthy. He says bottles are preferred by Che Guevara, Richard Nixon, Joseph Stalin, and somehow genocide. “So I suppose you can have your bottles if you hate freedom,” he writes.

It seems Liam prefers cans. My favorite of his arguments against bottled beer is: “Get off your high horse you elitist prick.” And that cans will save the polar bear. It’s definitely entertaining, which I think might be the point.

Sean Inman at Beer Search Party is our “Lewis and Clark” of finding great beer. Not sure he’s the right guide for this party as he has “swung from bottles to cans and back and forth like a pendulum.” But he does attempt to sate my desire for “empirical evidence” about the question at hand. He does so with a list, 4 points a brewery should ponder when considering which package to use. He seems to present this lightly and with humor. Yet he offers good points for all brewery marketing, not just the choice in packaging.

Finally, Stan Hieronymus from Appellation Beer and one of the 2 co-hosts of The Session, is most concerned with beer aroma. “I’m not inclined to want to stick my nose up to that half-inch wide opening in the can,” he cautions.

My sister once licked the lid of a can of bean dip and cut her tongue deeply. I thought I would cut my finger deeply when I once got it stuck in the opening of a soda can. (It turned out okay in the end.)

Like McLeod from Beer Blog, Hieronymus quotes an email from Oskar Blues, who says beer should be poured from the can into a drinking glass. Yet, people are drinking from cans, Hieronymus says. He pours his into a glass. Me too.

Related: The Session 97: Up and coming beer locations

Conclusion

So those are some thoughts on the debate. Those are some ideas to ponder when trying to decide how to package your beer.

There are many factors to consider. And some people are still pretty adamant for either cans or bottles. Luckily, these days great beer is put into both types of packaging, and both types are doing very well in the marketplace.

Stay tuned for The Session 99 hosted by Fuggled, who has chosen the topic: Mile Ale. Keep an eye out for their announcement coming soon, or check back at The Sessions HQ.

Thanks everybody for contributing. Sorry if I missed anyone, leave a comment below and I’ll try to add it or something.

LATE ENTRY:

Jack Perdue at Deep Beer does love his beer in bottles. It’s a bit of a romance for him. He tickles a little at the logical reasons, but ultimately, for him, it comes down to movies, one movie in particular, The Shawshank Redemption. He linked to a clip and I watched it in-line with the reading. So now I might be biased as well.

 

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Cans or bottles? 27 industry experts reveal their preference.

Cans or bottles? 27 industry experts reveal their preference

The Session Beer Blogging Friday by Brookston Beer Bulletin The data for this post is kept current here.

This is my entry to The Session 98 that I announced last week. Stay tuned for a round up of posts from other bloggers answering the same question: Cans or bottles?

Read the roundup: The Session 98 roundup: Cans or bottles?

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts The Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. (Find more info on Brookston Beer Bulletin.)

It looks like the host slot for the May session is still open, so if you’re interested in hosting The Session 99, drop a note to Jay (.) Brooks (@) gmail (.) com or Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer. His e-mail is stan (@) appellationbeer (.) com.

 

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Cans or Bottles? 27 industry experts reveal their preference

Cans or bottles? I ask this question of every guest on MicroBrewr Podcast. I think it’s an interesting study into both industry and consumer trends.

The craft beer industry is neat, in that the producers are often consumers as well. When a brewery owner answers this question, she gives her perspective not only as a manufacturer of an alcoholic beverage product, but also as a consumer of beer.

MicroBrewr is about how to start a brewery. A bottling line or a canning line is a substantial financial investment. So this question is a significant consideration to anyone starting a brewery. It brings varied and interesting answers.

At episode 14 of MicroBrewr Podcast, I started asking each guest the simple question, “Cans or bottles?” We’re now at episode 58, so we have a decent sampling of industry insiders.

The answers below were culled from MicroBrewr podcast episodes 14 through 58. With 44 respondents (one of the episodes was myself), the overall results were as follows.

Preference from guests on MicroBrewr podcast Count Rate
Cans 19 43%
Bottles 12 27%
Both 12 27%
Aluminum bottles 1 2%

Cans are preferred by 43 percent of the respondents, while bottles are preferred by 27 percent. That’s a 16 percent margin.

Furthermore, 27 percent of people could go either way. If you take the respondents who said they don’t prefer one over the other, and add them to the ones who prefer bottles outright, that’s 54 percent, beating out can fans by 11 percent.

Yet, if you threw a party with only canned beer, you’d satisfy 70 percent of your guests (43% + 27%). Whereas if you provided only bottled beer, just 54 percent of your guests would be happy (27% + 27%).

One respondent threw a curve ball. Philipsburg Brewing Company says that they are planning to package their beer in aluminum bottles.

“The canning machines… are awfully hard on beer,” said Mike Elliott from Philipsburg Brewing Company. “We’re looking for a away to utilize the convenience of aluminum, but get away from the problems with the canners. The machines for bottling on a small scale, like we need, have been much longer in development. Whereas the canning process is still pretty new and they’re still kind of refining the technology.”

I’ll continue to tabulate the answers.

So check here for the latest results.

In meantime, I was eager to dig in deeper. So I looked at the answers more closely.

 

The answers are affected by opinion

The first thing I noticed was that the answers seemed largely based on opinion. Simply put, people are biased and they have strong opinions about this topic.

From most of the guests, I could hear a change in the tone of their voice when they answer this question. It seems like their opinion is swayed by personal perception.

Oftentimes I perceived even a raised voice or an excited tone.

“Oh cans, all the way,” says Zachary Typinski from Neighborhood Brewing Co.

“Cans!” exclaims Nigel Askew from Horsefly Brewing Company. “Absolutely! There’s no competition.

“Cans, no doubt,” says Paul Benner from Platform Beer Co.

“Cans, totally 100 percent,” says Matt Katase from The Brew Gentlemen Beer Company. “I cannot wait until we start putting beer into cans.”

I do admit, this question is the first in a series of what I call “happy hour” on the show. The happy hour questions are meant to be light, friendly and informal. This could explain the change in the tone of their voice.

Some of the guests realized that their answer was based simply on opinion.

“I prefer bottles,” says Ted Sobel at Brewers Union Local 180. “I don’t know, I just prefer glass. There’s something I like about glass. Cans, I don’t know… cans remind me of cheap tin beer for some reason.”

“I have no objection to cans. I have no objection to bottle,” says Kyle Roth from Ferndock Brewing Co. “Certain beers I would rather have in a can. Take it on a boat, take it on the golf course. Some I would rather have in a bottle sitting on the dinning room table. That’s just my preference, I guess.”

“I actually used to collect beer cans so I had kind of a nice soft spot for cans,” admits Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment Brewery.

Modern cans for packaging beer are different from the their predecessors. New technologies have improved the packaging. Some guests seem to like cans because it’s a new thing.

“I gotta says cans,” says Randal Denver from Yards Brewing Company. “I think that’s the future of the industry.”

“I’m always looking on the newer and greater sort of things,” admits Audra Gaiziunas from Brewed For Her Ledger, “and I really like cans.”

“The new wave is cans,” says Brett Tate from Dust Bowl Brewing Company. “It seems to me that if you don’t do both [cans and bottles] in the future, you’re probably missing the boat.”

The question is difficult to answer

Several people found the question difficult to answer.

“Both,” answers Nick Ellis from Opposition Brewing Co. “Do I have to pick one?”

For some, it is a downright struggle to pick one packaging over the other.

“Cans,” says Cathy Smith from Philipsburg Brewing Company. “Or bottle!” she quickly changed her answer. “Or what? Oh, God—I don’t know.”

Mike Elliott was on the same call and he also had a difficult time answering.

“Oh, that’s hard,” he laments. “I love aluminum, but I hate cans. Let’s put it that way.”

For some, the dilemma is even troublesome.

“This is a really challenging question because from a science perspective cans are definitely a superior package,” says Chris Goulet from Birdsong Brewing Company. “But for me… in college and in my early career… it’s interesting because I always associated cans with crappy beer. So I guess I’m kind of personally at a conflict.”

“You don’t want to break glass by the pool,” offers Danny Robinson from Backshore Brewing Co. “Bottles… personally, I enjoy drinking out of bottles. The whole argument of what’s better, I don’t know. Honestly, I’ll take either one.”

“Whoa,” reflects Henry Thornhill from West Cork Brewing Company. “I was listening to Dan Gordon, he described, technically, how superior bottles were because less contact with the air. Up until that, I was going, ‘Cans, that’s the way to move forward,’ but now I’m re-assessing.”

Tiffany Adamowski from 99 Bottles beer store was politically correct in her answer.

“I almost always go bottles, just because there’s more variety,” she calculates. “But for storage, I prefer cans.”

Environmental stewardship affects the decision

Many guests cited the environmental benefits of cans over bottles.

Nigel Askew pointed out that aluminum cans weigh much less than glass bottles. Lighter weight, means lower transportation costs and the associated emissions.

“It’s lighter. Much more environmentally conscious,” he says. “Much more recyclable. Very few recycling places have the ability to crush the glass then re-melt it.”

Besides weight, the size of a can allows for more to be shipped in the same space, which additionally saves on transportation costs.

“It’s more portable in the sense that you can put 110 cases of cans on a pallet versus 70 for glass,” offers Shaun O’Sullivan. “I think 70 percent of all cans are recycled.”

“I also like being able to crush the cans,” says Todd Cook from Boulder Dam Brewing Company, “it makes my recycling thing a lot easier.”

Doing the right thing for the environment often translates to benefits for the bottom line.

“[Cans are] more environmentally friendly,” says Audra Gaiziunas. As an accounting consultant for breweries, she’s constantly thinking of the bottom line. “They’re not rising at the cost that glass is. I like them for transportation.”

 

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Product longevity affects the decision

Many people spoke about shelf life of their product.

“Technically speaking, cans are a superior packaging for beer,” says Nick Ellis. “There’s no argument. It protects the beer more than bottles.”

“We’re in bottles right now, 100 percent,” says Rich Weber from Sierra Blanca Brewing Company. “I think, ultimately I may end up [putting my product] in cans. I do like glass for my product, though. But no headspace, very low air, no light is appealing as well, in the cans.”

“Until 6 months ago, when I started doing serious research, I would have said bottles,” says Myles Stone from Borderlands Brewing Co. Myles knows about research, he started the brewery when he was in his second year of medical school. “Cans are like little, mini kegs. They block out all the light, they block out all the oxygen. They’re really shelf-stable.”

And Myles’ affinity for cans goes beyond the research to practical reasons.

“If you drop it, you pick it up, versus getting the mop if you drop a bottle,” he says. “You can take them to the beach, you can take them on the trail. I’m a big, big fan of cans.”

But there’s conflicting data. A few guests on the podcast have given statistics about how either cans or bottles are superior packaging.

“I was just talking to our lab guy their other day,” says Mark Carpenter, Brewmaster at Anchor Brewing. “The cans have the lowest air count. So the beer is going to last in cans. That’s keeps the brewer happy.”

Then there’s the argument for bottles, too.

“You can’t put a vacuum on a can. You can put a vacuum on a bottle so a double pre-evacuation filler is going to get you the best beer quality ever. That gets you oxygen content under 50 parts per billion of dissolved oxygen [in the bottle],” asserts Dan Gordon from Gordon Biersch Brewing Company. “So there’s minimal contact of any air with a beer when you’re filling a bottle.”

“That’s not the case with the can,” he continues. “With the can you have a large surface area, the top of the can diameter is exactly what’s being exposed to air during the process. And there’s transition between the filling of the can and the seaming of it, to put the top cover on it. So the oxygen content that you can get on a good filler is probably around 60-80 parts per billion. We average in our brewery about 20 parts per billion of oxygen [in bottles]. So the shelf life is much longer in a bottle than it is in a can.”

He doesn’t stop at dissolved oxygen.

“Let’s face it: The cases are sealed. The bottles aren’t going to be exposed to light that much.” The amber glass is also “filtering out a lot” of the light, he says. “And light reaction versus oxygenation, I’ll take light stuck any day of the week.”

Besides lab data from the brewery itself, I can’t help but wonder where the statistics are coming from. Obviously, the canning industry has an interest in making their packaging sound like it’s going to protect the beer more, but the bottle manufacturers have an interest in selling their product as well.

I’m interested to see any studies from an unbiased third party that covers a large sampling on a broad range of equipment.

RELATED: Cans or bottles? Surprising results from two blind taste tests

 

Portability and accessibility affect the decision

Many guests believe that cans allow their product to go more places.

“Cans, in Florida,” says Justin Stange from 7venth Sun Brewery, which was the first brewery in Florida to can a Berliner Weisse, a very popular beer style there. “We’ve got a lot of outdoor activities where bottles are restricted.”

“It is an outdoor state, so that’s kind of why we’re really researching it,” says Rich Weber in New Mexico. “There’s a lot of hiking, biking, mountain climbing, rafting, things like that, a lot of places that cans can go.”

“In Montana, the can is really popular,” says Mike Elliott, “because you can take a can outside to recreate and stuff.”

“[Cans] are much more easy to travel with,” says Brian Kelly from Elevation 66 Brewing Co. “and less chance for breaking them. So yeah, cans.”

Taking beer into the outdoors might not be such an important issue everywhere.

“I think in America people say how they’re going out and go hiking, and backpacking outdoors, you can take cans. That really isn’t the culture in Ireland,” says Henry Thornhill who co-founded a brewery there. “People drink [from] bottles at parties, barbecues, and stuff like that, but you wouldn’t go walking the hills and then have a can. I guess it’s just a bit more of culture thing, really.”

“In the last few years, there’s been an upsurge in outdoor activities. If you were bringing beer, people might think you’re a bit different, let’s say,” he advises.

I ask for clarification through the nuances of language. “Might think you’re a boozer, huh?”

“Yeah,” he cautions.

Cans still have a stigma

People who prefer cans are usually very enthusiastic about it. Yet there are holdouts for the bottle.

Oftentimes, people who prefer bottles are so confident in their answer and their preference that they don’t feel a need to elaborate.

“Bottles,” succinctly answers Matt Greff from Arbor Brewing Company.

“Myself, a bottle,” says Patty Elliot from Pecan Street Brewing (no relation to Mike Elliott).

“Bottle,” stated Eilise Lane from Scarlet Lane Brewing Company.

I pressed her further.

“You asked cans or bottles,” she laughed. “Bottles.”

Then she explained more. “There’s something about a bottle that just feels right for me. I know cans are great, I drink craft from can and it’s good beer. It’s a way to do it. But for me personally, I am looking forward to bottling. I just feel like it matches what we’re doing.

“When you are a bottle fan you are just a bottle fan,” she concludes.

Customers as well as producers perceive the stigma that cans bear.

“In New Mexico, some breweries are in cans and [some are in] bottles,” says Rich Weber. “Some are doing well and some are not doing well in cans. It’s kind of, you don’t know if it’s the package, it’s what’s in the package, or [simply] the packaging.”

“There’s still that stigma of a can,” admits Erich Allen from Studio Brew. “Case in point: I was standing at an incredible beer store one evening. And I was looking at a bottle of beer. It had the basket and the crown cap with the cork and the whole thing. And it was $32—$32 for a 750-milliliter bottle! And to the side of it was a can. And it was probably 32 to 34 ounces, standing there next to it for $8. Can I justify myself for buying that bottle for $32? Of course I did! On the $8? Well, I went ahead and bought it.”

Then he pauses.

“I got to tell you, the one in the can was just as good!”

And the stigma does seem to be waning.

“When we first started, it was interesting because we talked more about the can itself than the beer inside,” recalls Shaun O’Sullivan who co-founded his brewpub in 2000 and started packaging their beer for distribution—in cans only—in 2006.

“Cans have been hugely successful in the industry,” reports Mark Carpenter. “It’s what the public wants and accepts. Cans certainly seem to be accepted, and we’ve started canning. I think we’re going to see more can—customers like them. I think you’re going to see both cans and bottles around.”

“Once I kind of saw the light,” reveals Shaun O’Sullivan, “like, ‘Wow, this is going to be big,’ when Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium and especially Samuel Adams, I knew once those guys went into the cans, that this package was going to be accepted by beer drinkers and would be around forever.”

Whether packaging your craft beer product or just buying a brew, opinions and perception vary widely.

In the craft beer industry, producers are consumers. Among this set of producers and industry insiders, more people prefer canned beer. As canning technology improves and as the stigma of “cheap tin beer” fades, we’re seeing even more beer in cans.

But does the packaging affect the beer? That’s an important question that also draws varying opinions.

Stay tuned for the next post, where I talk about 2 blind taste tests that I did with friends to find the answer to the question: Cans or bottles?

 

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The Session 98 announcement: Cans or bottles?

The Session 98 announcement: Cans or bottles?

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts The Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. (Find more info on Brookston Beer Bulletin.)

The last time was “Up-and-Coming Beer Locations,” hosted by Our Tasty Travels. The topic for The Session this month is: Cans or bottles?

Read the roundup: The Session 98 roundup: Cans or bottles?

I ask this same question to every guest of MicroBrewr Podcast. I think it’s an interesting study into both industry and consumer trends.

The craft beer industry is neat, in that the producers are often consumers as well. When a brewery owner answers this question, she gives her perspective not only as a manufacturer of an alcoholic beverage product, but also as a consumer of beer.

A bottling line or a canning line is a substantial financial investment. So this question is a significant consideration to anyone starting a brewery.

The answers give great insight. However, one thing I see lacking from the discussion is solid data.

Of course aluminum can manufacturers and glass bottle manufacturers each have an interest in showing their packaging is best. I have heard a lot of arguments on both sides, even data and statistics, but I haven’t heard many references from third-party studies. If you can offer this, that would be a great help.

In any case, I’m looking forward to reading the answers not only to see where the consumer trends are going, but also as research for the brewery I dream of opening.

Read: Cans or Bottles? 27 industry experts reveal their preference

What’s your perspective?

Will you write from the consumer point of view? From which kind of packaging do you prefer to drink beer? Why do you prefer that packaging?

Will you write from a manufacturer perspective? How do you want your brand portrayed? Which packaging suits your beer best?

Will you write from a distributors perspective? Which packaging do you prefer to transport and stock at retail locations?

Some other insight?

RELATED: Cans or bottles? Surprising results from two blind taste tests

To participate in The Session Beer Blogging Friday, leave a comment below with a link to your post on or before the first Friday of the month, April 3, 2015.

So far, The Session next month is still open. If you want to host The Session 99, check out the guidelines and reserve the next free month or any specific month not yet taken. To do this, please contact Jay (.) Brooks (@) gmail (.) com or Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer via email at stan (@) appellationbeer (.) com.

 

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The Session 97: Up and coming beer locations.

The Session 97: Up and coming beer locations

Our Tasty Travels is hosting this month’s installment of The Session Beer Blogging Friday. The topic is “Up and Coming Beer Locations.” I might be biased having recently been hired at a startup brewery in the East San Francisco Bay Area (more on that in a future post), but I really see an increase of beer activity in the East Bay.

The eastern shores of San Francisco Bay, or East Bay as Californians call it, is home to a diverse spectrum of communities and people. The ever-progressive Berkeley, often-in-the-news Oakland, and unassuming industrial corner San Leandro are a few of the colorful places. The East Bay has its share of the usual suburbs, and many of those have breweries as well.

The San Francisco Bay area has long history of beer. Anchor Brewing goes back to the late 1800s. Gordon Biersch and others hail form the infamous Craft Beer Class of 88. Of course there’s Lagunitas a little further north and Russian River is not far away. No doubt, there’s a lot going on throughout the Bay Area. Let’s focus on the East Bay a little while.

Small breweries are opening in the East Bay

In Oakland, a physical education teacher and his math professor wife operate a nanobrewery in their basement. To be clear, the basement is the pilot system. Tied House Brewery makes larger batches for Line 51 Brewing that go into distribution.

P.T. Lovern and his wife Leti Lovern both hold their full-time jobs and run the brewery in the off hours. They and 2 employees handle all orders, distributions, bookkeeping and other operations. According to NPR, they don’t plan to quit their day jobs. Nonetheless, the beer is available at an expanding number of venues in the East Bay.

Medium breweries are opening in the East Bay

A little further north, there’s a quiet little town called El Cerrito. Here, Elevation 66 Brewing Company opened a little gastropub a few years ago. They’ve already been awarded as having the best artisanal pub food in the East Bay.

 

They have a constant flow of at least 6 of their beers on tap and some of them are pretty darn good by my estimation. When I spoke with Elevation 66 on MicroBrewr Podcast episode 036, Brian Kelly told me they have trouble keeping up with demand. He wishes they had started with a larger brewing system and he says they’re already thinking about expansion.

Large breweries are opening in the East Bay

In San Leandro, 21st Amendment Brewery is bringing their operations back to the San Francisco Bay with their own production brewery. Many people know that 21st Amendment started with a brewpub in San Francisco. Not as many know that their beers are partner brewed with Cold Spring Brewing Co. in Minnesota.

“We do have people out there,” says Shaun O’Sullivan in MicroBrewr Podcast episode 035. “I have a whole staff that kind of manages that. I’m out there a lot. We have a lot of samples that are sent back and forth. It’s a huge amount of information that goes back and forth. You know, you would think it would be easier, but some ways it’s harder.”

This year, 21st Amendment will open the hundred thousand-square-foot brewery to increase production above what they’ll continue making at Cold Spring. The new facility will have a restaurant, a performance venue, and other amenities that will surely attract visitors from throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

The East Bay is already burgeoning a beer scene and even a brewery scene. More venues, beers and breweries are on the way. And it’s going to be a better place for beer.

It better be—it’s virtually mid-way between San Diego and Portland!

 

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For a brewery truly rooted in the community, consider forming a cooperative, guest post by Sara Stephens, Sustainable Economies Law Center.

For a brewery truly rooted in the community, consider forming a cooperative

The cooperative business model is gaining popularity. Even many craft breweries are forming as co-ops. If you’re thinking of starting a brewpub, the cooperative business model might be the way to go.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) is the authority on co-ops. MicroBrewr Podcast recently spoke with SELC as part of a series about breweries as co-ops. Here, Sara Stephens, staff attorney at SELC and the Law Office of Sara Stephens, expands on how the cooperative business model can be applied to breweries.

Disclaimer: This blog post is made available only to give general information about the law and not to provide specific legal advice. The law is different in every state and subject to change. You should consult an attorney about legal questions pertaining to your situation.


For a brewery truly rooted in the community, consider forming a cooperative

Full disclosure: I am Nathan Pierce’s girlfriend wife. Because of that, I am learning more about craft beer than I ever expected I would. Although I’m not a big beer drinker, I am a big fan of entrepreneurship that helps create a more equitable economy. My job as an attorney at Sustainable Economies Law Center is to help people start cooperative businesses, equitable housing and land stewardship models, and other projects that create more resilient communities.

What impresses me most about craft breweries is how unlike conventional businesses they tend to be (in a good way).

  • They give back to their local communities.
  • They collaborate and share with each other.
  • They innovate and take risks.
  • They generally resist selling out to make a bigger profit.
  • And they seem like great places to work.

Because of these qualities, I believe the craft beer industry is ripe for the cooperative movement to take hold.

Cooperative basics and benefits

Cooperatives, I believe, are the best type of business to form if you want to be truly rooted in your community. By “cooperative” I mean an entity that is owned not by outside shareholders but by its members—the people who actively help the business to succeed.

Members might be:

  • The business’ workers (worker co-op)
  • The business’ customers (consumer co-op)
  • Producers of the product it sells (producer co-op)
  • A combination of those categories

Members of a cooperative jointly own the business, share its profits, and democratically manage its operations. This form of business keeps more wealth in the local community because the members (local workers, customers, and/or producers) are its owners. In the case of a brewery, the members could be the workers in the brewery, the consumers of the brewery’s beer, and/or independent brewers whose beer the co-op sells.

These members also have a say in how the business is run, so they can keep it from exploiting its employees or the local environment. Worker cooperative breweries, in particular, allow the people making the beer to have creative input and ownership in their work. Rather than focusing on maximizing returns to shareholders, a cooperative can truly operate for the benefit of its workers and community.

Listen to podcasts about breweries as co-ops:

MicroBrewr 046: Start your brewery as a worker-owned co-op

MicroBrewr 047: Proof of concept for a brewpub co-op

MicroBrewr 049: Planning California’s first cooperative brewpub

The cooperative model is taking hold

If you’ve been listening to MicroBrewr Podcast (particularly episode 046, episode 047, and episode 049), you’ve heard about these and other benefits of running a brewery as a cooperative. You’ve also heard from a couple of breweries that have chosen the cooperative model.

As it turns out, this trend is really taking hold.

Here’s the list of cooperative breweries Nathan and I have compiled so far. Some have not yet opened, but are well on their way. Below each, I’ve also indicated what type of cooperative it is or intends to be (as far as I could tell). Some of the consumer cooperatives below may actually be hybrids, if the workers are also members and exercise democratic self-governance. If you know of other cooperative breweries, tell us about them in the comments!

  1. 4th Tap Brewing Co-op (Austin, TX)
    • Worker cooperative.
  2. Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery (Austin, TX)
    • Hybrid consumer and worker cooperative. First cooperative brewery in the world. Hear their interview on MicroBrewr Podcast episode 047.
  3. CO-HOP (Chicago, IL)
    • Still in planning. Looks like a producer cooperative and brewery incubator that markets the beer its tenants produce. No posts on their blog or social media in several months; I hope this project is still happening!
  4. Fair State Brewing Cooperative (Minneapolis, MN)
    • Consumer cooperative.
  5. Fifth Street Brewpub (Dayton, OH)
    • Consumer cooperative.
  6. Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery (Seattle, WA)
    • Consumer cooperative.
  7. Full Barrel Cooperative Brewery & Taproom (Burlington, VT)
    • Consumer cooperative, with democratic worker management.
  8. High Five Co-op Brewery (Grand Rapids, MI)
    • Consumer cooperative.
  9. Los Alamos Beer Co-op (Los Alamos, NM)
    • Consumer cooperative.
  10. Miami-Erie Brewing Co-op (Middleton, OH)
    • Consumer cooperative.
  11. San Jose Co-op Brewpub (San Jose, CA)
    • Consumer cooperative. Hear their interview on MicroBrewr Podcast episode 049.
  12. Together We’re Bitter Cooperative Brewing (Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada)
    • Hybrid consumer and worker cooperative.
  13. Utah Brewers Cooperative—Wasatch and Squatters (Salt Lake City, UT)
    • Producer cooperative. Joint marketing of Wasatch Brewery and Squatters Craft Beers.
  14. Yellow City Co-op Brewpub (Amarillo, TX)
    • Consumer cooperative, with democratic worker management.

Key legal issue: choice of business entity

Since I’m a lawyer, I’ll say a little about one of the biggest legal decisions cooperatives need to make: what entity type to choose.

The most important distinction between a cooperative and a conventional business is the set of principles under which it operates. Check out the International Cooperative Alliance’s Cooperative Principles, which most cooperatives strive to follow.

Your state law may or may not contain a “cooperative corporation” business entity type, or something similar. Even if it does, you could still form something else (like an LLC) and may want to for various reasons. Typically, the LLC or cooperative corporation will be the best choice because they limit your personal liability.

Every state is different, but in California, here are some of the pros and cons of incorporating as a cooperative corporation.

Pros of incorporating as a cooperative:

  • This entity type legally enshrines cooperative principles into the business, requiring democratic decision-making and member ownership. These principles can be part of an LLC’s Operating Agreement, but there is a risk that members could vote to remove the cooperative provisions.
  • The business must incorporate as a cooperative corporation in order to use the word “cooperative” in its business name.
  • The business can raise up to $300 from each member without triggering cumbersome securities laws.
  • If it meets requirements under Subchapter T of the Internal Revenue Code, the business can avoid the double taxation that conventional C-Corporations face. However, LLCs are not taxed at the entity level at all, so both of these entities receive tax benefits.
  • Salaries of owners are not subject to self-employment tax, unlike LLC owner salaries.

Cons of incorporating as a cooperative:

  • Even though all of the workers might be owners of the business (i.e. a worker cooperative), the law might consider them “employees,” requiring the business to follow employment laws. In that case, the business would have to pay minimum wage, deduct payroll taxes, purchase workers compensation insurance, etc. even while it’s just getting the business off the ground. In contrast, members who co-own an LLC generally will not be considered employees.
  • There are more administrative requirements than an LLC, such as annual meetings, Board of Directors meetings, annual report filing requirements, etc.

Resources to start a brewery cooperative

You should meet with a lawyer to determine the best entity choice for you.

Sustainable Economies Law Center also has a free legal resource library on cooperatives (currently under construction).

And the Democracy at Work Institute has some great legal tools, particularly for worker cooperatives.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, the SELC offers drop-in legal advice three times a month for businesses and organizations trying to improve their communities. Come by for advice about your brewery!

The cooperative movement is growing and I hope you’ll join—either as a cooperative brewery entrepreneur or as a member-owner of a cooperative brewery!

Image showing Barn raising in lansing by Alexander W. Galbraith / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain was modified from its orignal state.

 

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How to apply for a trademark/service mark, guest post by Paul Rovella, L+G, LLP.

How to apply for a trademark / service mark

There are so many stories about breweries in trademark disputes. We’ve heard about breweries having to change their name, or change the name of their beer, or even being sued for 800 thousand dollars. Following the proper procedure to register your trademarks is one important way to protect you and your brewery.

A trademark is a word or design that is used to identify your company or your product. It can be the generic, plain text, to protect the words, or it can be stylized to protect the design, such as a logo.

A slogan can also be a trademark.

To fully protect your brand, you should register your trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Paul Rovella, told us all about trademarks on MicroBrewr Podcast episode 044.

This column is the work product of L+G, LLP, which has offices in Hollister and Salinas. Paul A. Rovella, Esq., an attorney with L+G, LLP, and Max Giacomazzi are the authors of this work. You may contact Paul A. Rovella at www.lg-attorneys.com.


 How to apply for a trademark/service mark

Once you have decided that you would like to apply for trademark/service mark protection (see part 1 for a primer on trademarks and service marks), it is time to apply to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for protection.

Please note, it is not necessary to register a trademark with the USPTO in order to protect it, there are still common law protections for trademarks and service marks based on use in commerce, however, registering a trademark or service mark provides certain benefits, including but not limited to nationwide public notice of ownership and a presumption of ownership of the mark and exclusive right to use the mark nationwide, on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration.

Decide on your mark

To apply for a trademark, you must first decide on the mark you are going to use.

There are several important factors to consider when selecting a mark. First, there can be minimal likelihood of confusion with other existing marks. Second, your mark should be easily defensible in court, or be a “strong” mark.

Marks, according to the USPTO, are placed into four categories.

The strongest marks are arbitrary and fanciful marks. These marks have no relevance to the goods being offered, and so are the most easily defensible, such as BELMICO Insurance® or BANANA Tires®.

The next category is suggestive marks. Suggestive marks suggest, but do not describe, the goods being offered. This would include PAGE-A-DAY Calendars®. Suggestive marks are also considered strong marks.

The next category is descriptive marks. Descriptive marks describe the goods being offered, such as CREAMY for yogurt or WORLD’S BEST BAGELS for bagels. Descriptive marks are considered weaker marks, because it can be difficult to defend them.

Generic marks, which don’t even qualify as marks in the legal sense, are the weakest types of marks. This would include BICYCLES for a bicycle retail store or MILK for a dairy-based beverage.

Do a trademark search

After you have decided on a mark, make sure you do a trademark search to see if any other marks are out there which might be confused with yours.

The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is offered by the USPTO for free and is available 24-7 through http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/ at “TESS search trademarks.” If you do find a mark that is similar enough with yours that there may be a likelihood of confusion, then you must pick or design a new mark.

Apply for a trademark

Applying for a trademark is complex, and requires adherence to all parts of the trademark code. Many people hire a lawyer specializing in trademark applications to speed up the process, and make sure that no part is missed.

All trademark and service mark applications can be filed electronically using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) on the USPTO website. You can also file on paper, but filing online is much easier and faster.

There are two different applications, the TEAS and the TEAS Plus. The TEAS is $325 per mark per classification. The TEAS Plus is $275 per mark per classification, but you must meet some extra filing requirements.

Once you file, you will receive a filing date, which is important because if there are two similar marks seeking trademark protection from the USPTO, the one filed first will get priority. However, there are some exceptions to this, such as if a mark which has been in use applies second. In this case, the second applier has rights.

There are a few things that must be included in the application, such as the owner’s information, a drawing of the mark, a description of the goods or services represented by the mark, and for use-based applications, depiction of the mark being used in the stream of commerce.

Once you submit the application online, your materials will be reviewed by a reviewing attorney with the USPTO for conformity to the USPTO rules and regulations before publication.

Image showing USPTO@Alexandria by Kazuhisa OTSUBO on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.

 

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My best books of 2014.

My best books of 2014

If you want to succeed, you have to read. Two books stood out from my reading list this year. These 2 books helped me formulate my vision for the brewery that I want to make. I hope they’ll help you on your journey to starting a brewery.

These books definitely helped me articulate my vision. And if you can read it, you can believe it. It has been the basis for several posts on my personal blog.

Entrepreneurs are readers. I recently spoke with Danny Robinson, owner of Backshore Brewing Co. in Ocean City, Maryland.

“I don’t know of any successful business people that are not voracious readers,” says Danny.

Start With Why; How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek

My parents are their own bosses. Each year they send themselves to Breakthrough Conference for goal setting, morale building, and such. I guess it’s pretty exciting because they always come back talking about it. My dad comes back talking about breaking boards. My mom brings back books from the speakers.

A few years ago they saw Simon Sinek speak and my mom emailed me a PDF of the advance copy of this book. It wasn’t until this year that I got around to reading it. And it came at the perfect time.

Although this book was published in 2009, I finally read it in April 2014. I was just coming off a bump in the road to developing my business plan. I was assessing my goals, my visions, and my purpose.

The book is all about getting to the inner reason of why a customer will buy a product.

“If you ask most businesses why their customers are their customers, most will tell you it’s because of superior quality, features, price or service,” he says. “In other words, most companies have no clue why their customers are their customers.”

He talks about different manipulations that companies use to makes sales: price, promotions, fear, aspirations, peer pressure, novelty.

“The danger of manipulations is that they work. And because they work, they have become the norm.”

But, according to Simon, “manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.”

So he provides an alternative. He explains how exceptional leaders motivate people by inspiring rather than manipulating.

He explains it in three components:

  1. Why
  2. How
  3. What

Most companies do it backward. They explain what they’re selling, the features, components, etc. They explain how it’s made. And finally, if they get around to it, they tell us why they did it.

But it should be the other way around. It all starts with why.

Simon gives examples, and one of my favorites is Apple’s marketing for their iPod.

There was another company that already had a portable MP3 player on the market nearly 2 years before Apple’s iPod. They had a longer history with digital sound and even with portable digital sound. But they advertised their product as a “5GB mp3 player.”

On the other hand, Apple’s main selling point was, “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Big deal if it’s a 5GB mp3 player, why do I need that.

To put 1,000 songs in my pocket, that’s why!

This system isn’t just for articulating your message to customers. Great leaders inspire their team, and their whole company, by always emphasizing why.

If you want to be a great leader. I highly recommend that you read, Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Above The Line; How the Golden Rule Rules the Bottom Line by Steve Satterwhite

This year, my parents brought back from the conference, another great book, Above the Line by Steve Satterwhite. It was published in 2013, I read it in September 2014.

This book is mostly Steve’s memoir of how he built his IT company from scratch to the best—and one of the most profitable.

Steve goes deep into the workings and the analysis of the IT processes for really large accounts. It was interesting to learn that all the major computer companies don’t handle their own support calls. You might think the IT person works for the company you called, but they’re actually contracted out.

It was also interesting to learn how Steve makes sure to hire the right people every time.

“Each person is a complex human being who comes with a set of strengths, a set of weaknesses and a lot of stuff in between,” he says. “The trick is to recognize someone’s strengths, then give them the tools to move from good to great, and then from great to Rock Star status.”

Steve says there are three disciplines that businesses can master. Most companies believe it’s too much to master all 3, they have to choose one and only one of the 3 disciplines:

  • Operational excellence
  • Product leadership
  • Customer intimacy

But Steve learned that “these three legs are inextricably linked together. You can’t actually have one without the other.”

This book is a great example of a big company doing the right thing. Echoing a lesson from Simon’s book, Steve talks about aligning your company with employees, with clients, and with customers who share your values.

“When our people show up to work with our customers, their culture is an extension of our culture,” Steve says. “How they treat our people is a direct reflection on us as leaders of the organization.”

Steve’s organization is committed to treating their employees well. They treat their employees well so their employees can treat their communities well.

Steve is so committed to this idea that he even gave his employees to a competitor.

He wrote of a time when a client bought a competing IT provider. Steve’s organization lost a lot of business and had to let employees go. Rather than leave the employees to fend for themselves, Steve’s organization called the competitor and recommended these employees for hire. The 2 companies had worked on many of the same jobs. They knew how to do each other’s work.

Although Steve’s company had invested in their employees training, skills, and knowledge, they were committed to treating their people well. When they could no longer afford to keep them employed, they found other employment for them.

This is doing business “above the line.”

“We try to do the right thing in every situation. Even when it hurts,” he says. “Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we make mistakes. But sometimes, we get it right. And despite all my failures and successes, through it all, trying to do the right thing for our people first is why I sleep well at night.”

I highly recommend this book as well.

Read everything you can get your hands on

These 2 books prove that you can strive to make a profitable company and still do what is right.

Craft breweries are known for being the types of businesses that conserve resources, pay employees a livable wage, and give back to the community. You don’t have to sacrifice profits in exchange for that.

When I talked with Danny Robinson he was really enthusiastic about reading for business people.

“Read everything you can get your hands on!” he advises.

If you want to see what books Danny and others are recommending for starting a brewery, check out the list of books recommended by guests of MicroBrewr Podcast.

What were the best books you read this year? What are you striving for in 2015? Let the rest of us know in the comments below.

Image showing Reading by Sebastien Wiertz on flickr (CC BY 2.0) was modified from its orignal state.

 

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