Product Innovation Key to Growth for Monday Night

When Monday Night Brewing opened in 2013, it had three beers. Now, between two taprooms it has 40 beers on draft.

Jeff Heck said Monday Night brewed over a hundred unique beers in 2018, and it’s on track to do about as many this year.

There’s a long process that goes into choosing beers to get canned. The team typically doesn’t even name a beer before it’s completely happy with the product. 

“Sometimes there will be a marginal tweak on the edges with the same name like going from draft to cans,” Heck said, “but by the time we go to distribution we want to feel really good that there’s consistency with the product that people have experienced in the taproom.”

Working on a small pilot system in the original production facility in Atlanta, the brewers at Monday Night use a five-barrel system for new ideas in the taproom, trying to find recipes that resonate with customers.

After testing out a five-barrel batch on consumers, if it goes well, the beer is canned for release in the taproom. If that goes well, then it’s a candidate for distribution.

That system is the primary feeder for new seasonals.

“That’s the process for product innovation,” Heck said. “And it’s been great because you get consumer feedback along the way.

“Sometimes you have beers that we love but they just don’t resonate as much with our customers. And other times they’re things that we wouldn’t have expected that people would fall in love with.”

Heck likes the five-barrel system because it allows them to continue to tweak recipes at a very low cost. While recipes are getting tweaked, sometimes the beer is sold in the tap-room. Other times, it might even be tossed if the team feels the beer doesn’t represent what the brewery is capable of.

Dubbed “The Garage”, the second taproom was originally opened in 2017 for more production room. It has since evolved to a dedicated barrel-aging and sour facility.

“We have always said with taproom expansions, each taproom needs to have its own reason for existing,” Heck said, instead of opportunistically popping up just to make more money.

It’s called The Garage because Heck started brewing in his garage about 12 years ago.

“We wanted to kind of recreate that intimacy and raw kind of feel of what it was like back in the early days brewing in my garage,” Heck added. “So it’s worked. [We have] strings strung around in the taproom and we have old rusty tools for the tap handles, and it’s a really cool vibe, but it also creates that kind of intimacy that we had back in the day when 30-40 people would come on a Monday night and hang out in my in my garage.”

Last year, distribution expanded into Tennessee. Otherwise, Heck is focused on growing in the home market and looking for new opportunities in Atlanta.

Executive Editor Jon Sicotte contributed to this story.

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