Why Packaging & Distribution Are More Important Than Ever

Woods Boss Brewing did not have the intention of getting into distribution this early in the ​brewery’s ​business plan. Yet because of the pandemic making such intense alterations to many people, distribution was a decision made to increase the Denver brewery’s ability to get products into consumers’ hands, both while the taproom was closed as well as during the extended period while a majority of its customers were choosing to drink at home as well. ​And that may not change much in the future either.​

“These last few months have been a significant adjustment in our business plan to say the least,” said Woods Boss co-owner and Marketing Director Chad Moore. “When COVID safety guidelines shut down our taproom temporarily we know that the timeline could end up being a lot longer than anticipated and we had to make some challenging decisions that would ensure an additional revenue source outside of the taproom.”

LA’s Boomtown Brewery always saw canned beer as a vital part of its business. The pandemic has, however, rapidly evolved this segment of the business from a more auxiliary piece (and on a longer time frame of development) to front and center.

“Getting beer from the tank to the consumers used to have multiple avenues, in both draft and cans: taprooms, bars, grocery stores, bottle shops, restaurants, etc.,” pointed out Boomtown’s Production & Brewery Manager, Ben Turkel. But it became that the only ways for Boomtown to get its beer out is if consumers physically went to the brewery for to-go sales or pick up product at a local retail outlet.

Package options like crowlers and cans were once only a small part of the brewery’s overall sales.

“Overnight they became nearly 100% of our beer sales,” Turkel said. “As the crisis continues, ebbs and flows, we have seen a slight uptick in draft sales. But generally speaking, now and for the foreseeable future, cans/crowlers are going to be the lion’s​ ​share of how we’re able to meet consumer demand.”

Woods Boss began canning select brands on April 5 with the intent to not just develop a short-term solution but to jump in and set up a canning and distribution program that would set Woods Boss up for the long term.

“[It will] hopefully align the brand for a stronger financial future if we would need to shut down again should another wave of this pandemic or any other future economic disruption,” Moore said.

Regardless of the brand, there was never a plan at Boomtown to only do on-site cans. Turkel told Brewer early on the brewery made canned products available for both its taproom and for distribution.

“At a certain point you can only sell so much beer through the taproom (old days) or the loading dock (current days), so you’ll need to start sending beer out to the wider market,” he said. “While we encourage our customers to come down to the brewery to pick up fresh beer, we know that oftentimes people don’t have the means or time to make a trek across town.

“In that sense, we are really pleased and privileged to work with a dedicated distribution company, Wine Warehouse, that helps place our product across the vast expanse that is Southern California. This relationship allows us to gain new customers and keep product accessible to existing fans regardless of where they might be in the area.”

Moore noted that the learning curve has been sharp and although they are wrapping their heads around the new reality that Woods Boss is now a community brewery that distributes, it has been a tough reality.

“Like anything, when your business depends on something to make it through a tough time or you are tossed a road block, we take it one day at a time and try to make the best decisions for the business, employees and customers,” Moore said.

Given ​needing such a quick response to get into canning and distribution ​Wood Boss ha​s​ been using several mobile canning companies to keep up with demand.

​”​We have been amazed with the quality of mobile canning considering the logistics of what it takes to make it happen​,” Moore said​​, adding it would ​be ideal to have ​their own canning system​, but for the time being, the​ best option remains to use mobile canning.

Photo courtesy Boomtown Brewery

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