Last week we launched the second craft beer in our humble range, our Lemon Meringue New England Pale Ale. It came dancing off the line on Wednesday in its matte lemon coloured can with George the Beast showing off his muscles (George the Beast was another affectionate name we gave to the 3.8L Holden station wagon that got us safely around Australia and to Rozelle many years ago).
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Beast! Which led us to writing about a few things that we stuffed up in our first few months…
Our first mistake we shared in an earlier blog, where the beer police shot down ‘original’ George and we spent hours redesigning him to appeal less to minors – hours of review and design costs! The second was related to barcodes.
99.9% of us never look at a barcode and analyse it and certainly most don’t care about their origins, ability to be scanned and what stores do/don’t accept each one! When designing packaging, you have to consider this and it’s more complex than it may seem… You’d also prefer sticking needles in your eyes than researching your EAN-13’s, from your UPC-E’s!
So…with a printing deadline looming in October we spent about $600 on the codes and had around 4,000 of them printed for the 6-pack stickers that cost another few hundred bucks.
Low and behold, not long after printing everything, we had some feedback that most retailers including the big boys, would not accept barcodes unless they started with a 93 code…
Ours started with 07!
Long story short, we had to bin the initial codes and fork out another $600+ for the new ones! An expensive lesson in barcoding complete.
The third fail we had was last week with the Beast. We were packaging on Wednesday with plenty of pre-orders going out that day. So, on Friday night the week before we were confirming that our printed cans and carton boxes would be delivered in time, as planned. The cans were confirmed to be arriving on Tuesday, close but that worked… however the boxes were a different story.
“We’ve got a problem” we heard at 6:45pm on Friday night.
As it happened, the machine that prints our boxes (and many other craft beer boxes across Australia) broke down at the exact time that our boxes were to be printed. We now had a 48-hour minimum delay in getting them on site for packaging.
In the meantime, improvising, we had to hand stack thousands of George the Beast 6-packs on pallets in the cold room and then re-pack them once the boxes arrived. Another costly delay and labour expense we could have done without!
12 months before we took Springside Brewing out of the garage and into a business, I remember having a beer at Willie the Boatman and talking to Pat (the co-founder) about taking the plunge. He gave a few words of advice, but one did stick out last week. “You don’t brew to become a millionaire”.
Very true words. You brew for the love of beer, the process, flavours, the creation, always striving for better, and seeing the happy, smiley face of those after taking a big gulp of your precious nectar!
Good news is that the NEPA is tasting great! Cheers to hoping there are no more fails this week!