The dynamic world of brewing is about to become more volatile. After stagnating in 2022, demand for beer actually decreased through most of last year. Meanwhile, supply chain concerns continue to affect production processes, even as customers become more discerning and demanding when it comes to great beer.
Through the wrong lens, this volatile environment could be seen as a death knell. But more realistically, it just means adjustments are necessary. Staying ahead of the brewery operational curve can make all the difference in building more efficient workflows and delivering better beer.
Getting to that point of operational efficiency is far from automatic. But with the right brewery software, it’s a reasonable achievement for even the smallest craft brewing operation.
We’d even go one step further by stating that the right software has the potential to transform how your brewery operates, preparing you for success both during and well beyond 2024. As you explore your options, look for the following key features to optimize and transform your brewery workflow.
6 Features of Modern Brewery Software
Just as the brewery industry has transformed in recent years, brewery management software has had to keep pace. As a result, you’ll be able to find solutions with features that can revolutionize the way your brewery operates, from inventory management to accounting and reporting.
Not every software option you evaluate will offer the same features of course. The key is knowing which options to look for to truly optimize and transform your brewery processes. The following six features offer a great start in future-proofing your business processes, as they are must-haves to consider.
Feature #1: Effective Recipe Management
The success of any brewery starts with the right recipe. If you know what to brew, your customers love it, and you can reliably produce it at the same quality level, you’ve built the foundation for a successful brewery business. Keeping that quality level consistent can be surprisingly difficult, which is where recipe management features of brewery software enter the equation.
At its core, your system should allow you to store all of your recipes in one place. But the right software goes far beyond this basic. Look for a platform that allows you to trace all the ingredients you need for a given recipe at every point in the production chain, leading to accurate forecasting of which inventory items you need and when.
That’s just the start. Look for software that helps you build templates of common recipes so you don’t have to start from scratch every time. If you can easily edit those recipes as you improve and customize them, you’re in an even better spot to optimize your production and reliably produce high-quality brews.
Feature #2: Automated and Proactive Inventory Capabilities
Chances are you didn’t get into the brewery industry because of your love for inventory management. And yet, without prioritizing it, you risk running into significant inefficiencies as old ingredients spoil, delayed ingredients cause bottlenecks, and customers become frustrated by inconsistent quality or frequent stock-outs.
The right brewery software can come to the rescue, even preventing such problems before they occur. In addition to keeping an accurate account of your current inventory, good inventory management provides a number of transformative benefits for your business:
- Create dynamic, real-time reports so you’re always aware of your current inventory situation.
- Forecast your inventory levels based on production schedules to know when to order ahead.
- Build automatic reorders based on lead times and inventory thresholds so you never run out.
- Create visual views of your inventory floor plan to keep an eye on where to find your inventory.
- Track kegs with your business clients to retrieve empty units and replace batches before they expire or spoil.
The result is inventory management that’s not just convenient but also operates at peak efficiency. You can minimize wasting resources, allowing your brewery to maximize its profitability.
Feature #3: Advanced Production Scheduling
In the brewing industry, production schedules can become an immensely complex process that’s only complicated further when supply chains lose reliability. Software featuring production schedule management can incorporate key variables to outline every step in turning a recipe into a finished product.
Traditionally, this was a manual process. It wasn’t uncommon to see complex schedules jotted down on pieces of paper. Enter brewery software that can map and outline your schedule in a single, intuitive chart. Think of it as a production planner that helps you build, track, and adjust all the processes needed in your batch brewing, including:
- When new ingredients come in
- When different processes, such as lautering and fermentation, have to happen
- Which pieces of equipment will be occupied at which times
Just as importantly, the right software will enable you to make adjustments as needed. If an ingredient takes longer to arrive than expected, a simple tweak at that point in the process allows you to adjust the entire schedule. That level of flexibility ensures your brewery remains dynamic while you make the best possible use of your resources.
Feature #4: Extensive Accounting Integrations
Naturally, any competitive brewery requires streamlined accounting practices that ensure your money flows reliably through the business. Successful brewery accounting means effectively managing all financial aspects of your business, from tracking your expenses to building the financial statements you need for tax and compliance purposes.
The key is finding brewery software that does more than just these tasks in isolation. Instead, it’s about finding a system that compiles all financial activities and reporting into a single, comprehensive process. That way, you can always track exactly what your current financial situation is and optimize processes as needed.
Some of that optimization will happen directly through your brewery system, like keeping track of inventory costs. But don’t underestimate the potential power of integrations as well. For example, integrating your brewery software with your POS system connects your sales data directly to your inventory, financial reporting, and more.
Feature #5: Automated and Dynamic Reporting Features
We’ve already touched on reporting capabilities in some of the features above. That in itself is a core feature of the right brewery software. When everything is unified into one brewery platform, every piece of your operation becomes measurable with real-time reports that enable you to understand exactly what’s going on at all times.
Best of all, many of these reports are automated in ways that streamline your operations and save time. You and your staff can receive relevant reports that allow for a better understanding of the whole picture, from sales forecasts to inventory levels. Greater insights mean more strategic decision-making, ultimately benefiting your entire operation.
Take the Brewer’s Report of Operations as an example, a key requirement of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. It can take hours to complete every month—unless you have software that automates the report for you. In the process, you save valuable time while reducing the potential for human error in pulling the right data.
Feature #6: Quality Assurance at Every Level
Finally, never underestimate the importance of quality assurance for the beer you brew. Especially in an industry that’s getting increasingly competitive, it’s essential that your product is the highest possible quality—and that this quality remains at that level consistently with every batch you brew. Quality assurance has to become a core part of your everyday operations, which is possible through the right brewery software.
For example, you can implement QA testing into your production schedule. Consider adding microbiological and chemical tests or human sensory panels directly to the process. You can also use your platform for record-keeping, allowing you to track the taste and quality of every batch to report any trends that might eventually lead to adjustments and improvements.
Quality control even extends to your inventory. If you’re aware of the age of your ingredients and finished product, you can ensure that the beer in front of your customers is always fresh. That consistent, high level can help grow your customer base, reputation, and ultimately your business.
Start 2024 with an Investment to Transform Your Brewery Operations
As the brewery industry continues to adapt and evolve, remaining ahead of the curve is essential for long-term, sustainable success. That means taking a close look at all your management processes but also finding brewery software with the potential to transform how you run your business at every level.
Optimization features, from recipe management to automated inventory and reporting, can help you get there by streamlining everything and enabling a single source of truth. Unifying your management processes directly impacts your workflow, setting your business on the path to reliable profitability.
Ekos is trusted by breweries and craft beverage producers on six continents. Our software’s transformative features prepare your business for success in 2024 and beyond. Schedule a demo today to learn more about the brewery management software features geared toward your success.