Artisanal Brew Works started as the brainchild of two high school teachers in Saratoga Springs, New York who melded a love for brewing with timely tax credits for small brewers who used New York-grown hops and grain. Now, the brewery is booming — doubling its production every year for the last three years thanks to a partnership with Warheads (yes, the candy) with whom they produce a sour beer that’s brewed in-house and at scale through a contract brewery and distributed in 18 states.
With contract brewing for their Warheads beers, distribution across the country with a partner, and brewing and distribution at home in New York, the ABW team faces a difficult balancing act every day — complex inventory, managing multiple distributor groups, necessary accounting and reporting, etc. So when Director of Sales Ben Harris joined the team in 2021, he knew ABW needed a one-stop shop for their business management needs.
To put it simply, Ben is selling more beer with the 10 hours he’s saving per month using Ekos. “I’m the one that pushed for us to get Ekos because it’s allowing me to focus on selling beer and growing the business and not worry about extra steps that are necessary but tedious,” he said.
Before, the ABW team had a lot of information to manage with a “hodge podge” of methods, according to Ben. As they tried to manage inventory and track costs with messy Google Drives and their POS system, it was clear that their tech stack was letting them down. Now, Ben and the rest of the team are more organized than ever, saving them a good chunk of change.
The ability to track kegs has been a game changer for the team. Before, they never charged keg deposits for fear of missing a refund or charging someone incorrectly with a messy tracking system. With fresh organization from Ekos, ABW can collect keg deposits with confidence. They’re so confident, in fact, that when someone claimed that they paid several $30 keg deposits, ABW quickly had evidence that that wasn’t true. Ben’s team was able to see in Ekos that this customer hadn’t paid deposits on those kegs, saving the business money and time trying to sort out the issue.
On-the-go capabilities are helping Ben day-to-day, too. When a customer called Ben at 9 p.m. looking to buy ABW’s beer, he was able to complete the invoices and send them out to the taproom and the customer right away from home — saving him a trip to the brewery and possible inaccuracies in information inputted the next day. “Being able to work anywhere I want to work is a great advantage — no more having to put stuff into a laptop and then invoice it later,” Ben said. “Whenever you wait to do something, you add to the chance of making mistakes. Ekos allows me to enter information when it is fresh in my mind, so I can get all of the details right the first time.”
Keeping varying distributor prices straight is a challenging task, but ABW is successfully doing so using Ekos. In particular, the brewery distributes locally in addition to managing national distribution for their Warheads beer. “Ekos allows us to build our price list. Then, when we make a sale, we don’t have to worry about clicking on the right priced items so we aren’t overcharging or undercharging any customers, which is really helpful,” Ben said. That contract brewing also means they’re keeping track of inventory both on- and off-site. Plus, they are arranging orders both at home and in the contract facility. “We use Ekos to keep track of where our beer is and where our beer is going,” Ben said. “We need to make sure that we have an adequate sense of what’s selling, where it’s selling, and what we have to do to get beer out the door.”
Artisanal Brew Works is looking forward to all of the growth they’re planning for this year. The team is moving to a new location that’s 11,000 square feet with a full brewpub, restaurant, outdoor space, and event space that they’re planning to share with local nonprofits for free. Plus, this new facility will nearly double their brewing capacity. “We’re continually using Ekos more and more every day, and I’m sure they’re the right partner as we grow in the future,” Ben said.
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