Tips on Making Your Beer its Best Everywhere

If your beer is being served in your brewery at your taproom, make it the best experience possible. If you leave your brewery, either work with your beer buyers or wholesalers to make … the best experience possible.

All three ways came back to the same premise: leaving a consumer satisfied. Getting there means different avenues and both Suzie Ford, president of NoDa Brewing, and Barbara Gerovac, the co-founder of Anaheim Brewery, shared their thoughts on distribution models at the recent Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville.

Here was a few tips from the veterans of self distribution for breweries that have both been open since 2011.

Training in the Taproom:

Gerovac noted that in you taproom, you control the environment.

“It’s the best chance for you to present your beer perfectly,” she said. “Clean glasses, and a knowledgeable server with a smile. It’s easy to complain about your beer being served somewhere else: The server wasn’t good, they used a shaker pint instead of a good tulip. …

Make your tasting room as awesome as you can.”

Ford added to make a consumers taproom visit an experience.

“Don’t cut corners. Work on your server training, make sure they know the ins and outs of your beer: what hops are in it,” she said. “It’s all common sense, but when you get wrapped up in day-to-day issues you don’t think about it.

“People may be traveling from all around to come to your taproom and taste your beer. You want them to leave with a great experience and wanting to come back. But more importantly, if you are distributing around your city or around your state, you want them to look for your beer on tap and buy it in other places.”


With a large populace base of Charlotte as their home, NoDa doesn’t see the reason to do anything but self-distribute at this time since the brewery — which made nearly 16,000 barrels in 2017 — is under the state law of 25,000 barrels produced.

“For us it makes no sense to hire someone to distribute for us in a 45-mile radius,” Ford said. “I don’t want to give someone else 25-30 percent of our money to do the job we can do ourselves. We will know the customer, the beers and our brand best. It makes sense.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of people in our area, that’s not the case for everyone. So distributors are a vital cog in the wheel, but if you can self distribute at the start, it makes the most sense. It helps with cash flow and you know your end customer. You can tell your story better than anyone else.”

Gerovac added if your state allows it, a brewery is getting the best margins by selling directly to a retailer, a restaurant or bar.

“That’s why we self distribute, we know our customers and we can eyeball them all,” she explained. “They know us, we know them. It’s really personal. It’s like a regular in our taproom and the server behind the bar.”

Sales Staff:

Having a sales staff an extension of yourself as a brewery owner noted Ford.

“You can’t be everywhere your beer is all the time, so it’s important to hire the right sales people that understand your brand,” she said. “Just like you train a bartender, train your sales team just as much so they know the beer and can speak to it just as anyone else can. You have to make sure that you have an attractive product that they are selling and that they can make money off of.”

Gerovac pointed out a brewery should determine if their sales staff will be salaried or hourly and to determine a commission structure based on what you feel will suit your brewery’s needs best, be it giving new account bonuses or wanting a sales person to work at selling more to current customers.

“What’s your goal,” she asked. “Because money will drive people.” It was also pointed out that although an owner can’t always be there, beer buyers want to meet the owner and being there for sales calls can help close a deal.

Equip Your Delivery Team:

It could be as simple as making sure you have the proper equipment on hand to make a delivery person’s job easier, like dollies, lift gates, a forklift or pallet jack.

Also, coordinating schedules for sales people and follow up to beer buyers with delivery the next day can show great customer service in self distribution. Even making sure that special instructions our left for the driver.

“Even telling the delivery driver not to go to a certain place at noon because of lunch or make sure the beer is delivered to the back of the place by 3 p.m. can help customer/beer buyer relations,” Ford noted.

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