Using Customer Service, QCQA To Better Your Brand

In a chat with Larry Horwitz earlier this year I got some great little tidbits of info and wanted to share a few here in there as I listened through again to a 45 minute-plus interview about all things in the beer business. Horwitz is the Brewmaster for Columbus, Ohio’s Four String Brewing and also the chair of the safety subcommittee, which is part of the technical committee structure for the Brewers Association.

In a line of questioning about return on investments, Horwitz shared how Four String has beefed up its quality assurance program over the years.

Between social media and being meticulous about each batch of beer for QCQA purposes, Horwitz was able to solve a problem relatively quickly. He said in talking with his owners he wanted to have a library of batches on hand. That means lots of cold and warm storage for the brewery — which produced around 5,000 barrels last year and is looking to ramp up to three times as much in the future.

“I can do something as dumb as maintaining a really high-quality library of everything we package,” Horwitz said. “If we bump into a problem somewhere in the market or a customer does take the time to lets know about a batch of beer they ran into that they didn’t think was great. We can literally go touch it.

“We keep our inventory for a year regardless of the date code so I can go find a six pack of beer that we shipped and we can run analytical testing on it or we can put it in the flavor panel or we can you know we can do microbiological testing to say hey what’s going on with that. And actually we do that the date code for all of our products.”

Horwitz thinks it makes the customers feel good too because Four String ran into a recent problem where a consumer contacted the brewery to say they had an IPA that didn’t taste great.

“It turns out that it was out of code,” Horwitz said.

The beer had been purchases from a bottle shop where the brewery knew they didn’t rotate their inventory really well.

“We were able to have a really positive conversation with that shop and say: ‘Look, our distributor will help you move our old inventory and get destroyed.’

“We don’t want old beer in the market. In our effort to get the best quality beer in the hands of our customers and, to frankly avoid having to buy back old and out of code beer, I think that that’s been a great return on investment for us.”

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