Pat Carey wasn’t ready to retire after decades in the high tech industry and was looking for an outlet to channel his skills and experience. He and a fellow retiree enjoyed great craft brews, and in 2019, began their quest for a brewery to buy and improve. After the pandemic, their opportunity surfaced in 612 Brew, an original Minnesota taproom. In 2023, the duo purchased and renamed it Padraigs Brewing, differentiating themselves from typical IPA-heavy breweries by paying homage to Irish brewing, a popular but underserved market.
The main draw to 612 Brewing was it was a blank slate to allow Carey to do what he did so well in his past high-tech careers: adding insights, analytics and technology to take home-grown operations to the next level. He needed visibility into every brewery area and cost. “The brewery had a good facility but no business system beyond Post-It Notes and memory, no real-time information, much less dashboards,” he says. “A lot of breweries are in crisis, and even small breweries like ours must base business decisions on reliable data only visible with a comprehensive brewery management system that pulls it all together.”
Carey chose Ekos as its sole brewery management system for the data it puts at their fingertips instead of having to “wrestle it out of the system.” He was also surprised by how easy Ekos was to implement himself. The entire team at Padraigs uses Ekos every day, from management to the production floor. At any point in time, Carey and his team can see their products, costs, profits and sales by simply flipping between facility and data views on iPads.
Ekos presents the details of specific products, such as the real-time cost of each brew sold, sourcing, inventory, recipes, kegging, sales and delivery. The efficiencies and cost transparency have been transformative. Recipes used to be in the brewer’s head, but now, Ekos recipe management allows them to see how changes to a recipe will affect the cost. They can also see which flagship products they can sell nationally if they outsource production.
The Ekos keg management keeps track of every keg they sell to bars and restaurants so none go missing. “We could have lost 100 kegs without Ekos. At $20 a keg, that’s a massive savings,” says Carey.
For Carey, the most valuable data he gets from Ekos is whether the brewery is making money. “It’s not just margin and saving money you have to consider,” he explains. “What helps me as an owner is getting more sales, not hounding my brewer to focus on recipe costs. With Ekos, I have the tools to know what to focus on, like hiring a new salesperson to get our beers into more bars and liquor stores. Ekos helps me direct my activity and what to do next every day. Without these insights, you’re just putting out fires, which can quickly take over a business.”
Padraigs has been using Ekos for only a month, but it’s already reaping the benefits. “I can already see what our business is doing,” says Carey. “Before, I had no idea and had to run around asking everyone. We just added cold storage and another facility. I can see in Ekos exactly what’s in each location without having to manually count. There’s so much we’ve already done in a short time with Ekos, and there are no bounds to how we can scale.”