From Idea to Shelf: The Process of Distributing Utah Beer

17 October 2018 Published in Haas Style Blog

The Process:

So, it is a Saturday morning and you are strolling the aisles of your local grocery store.

You turn the corner down down the beer aisle for your weekly refill. You glance at the domestic brands, and fruit blended beers. You get to the end where the craft beer resides, and you look through what you have had and what you have not had. You reach out, and pull a six pack of RoHa Back Porch into the cart. No thought given to what it might have taken to get that beer, to this point. A can, with a name, in a 6-pack, with some artwork, some federally controlled verbiage, and that sweet nectar called beer on the inside.

Well this is a guest blog by the "Ro" in RoHa to discuss a bit about the process that made your purchase seem so easy. As you probably guessed, the process is lengthy, a bit painful, but the result is magnificent.

We usually start with an idea about a beer that we want to make. We discuss where that beer fits in our overall portfolio, and where it would live in the market. Is it hip and trendy like a NE IPA, or is it a classic like a Pale Ale, Amber, or Porter.

From there we usually start with the naming phase, which has so many elements that it is tough to pinpoint how we actually land on a single name. Not to mention that there a gazillion different beers out in the world, and they all have names, so you have to avoid copying someone else's name. We start a list, a long list. We google every word and look for any trademark issues, if there is a trademark issue we nix it. Then we end up with a list of names that we think would survive trademark law, and we begin dissecting the name. How well does it fit our brand, how long is the name, how will it look on the package, does it sound nice when you say it, and so on. All the things that can't necessarily be measured. Finally, after a great deal of back and forth, we land on a name, and we give it a day or two to sink in, making sure we have a fit.

Now, to fill out the branding. Our packages have some other materials on them that we need to develop. Pairs with, Brewer's Secret, Description, and any other special attributes that we want to include as part of the beer or the brand. These items walk through a similar process of wordsmithing, and testing.

Now the color scheme. With millions of colors available, how do we know what will look good. We typically try to pair up a color to match the beer style. Our Nights Out Belgian Stout (NOBS) of course comes in a sleek black package. Our graphic artist, Nick with Larsen Design, pulls together dozens of color options for us to review. We widdle those down to a few, and finally choose the one arrangement we like the best and fits in with our other beers.

This final piece of art, with all the text is submitted to the TTB for their review and stamp of approval. Assuming all goes well, they spend a couple weeks looking at it, and approve it, so we can submit the artwork to the state for label approval.

A sample can is ordered, for review, to confirm the colors on the screen look like the colors in real life. We confirm the proof has correct spellings, and the UPC code is correct. We review every little part of this proof, because the next step is a much bigger order of cans, that the beer will actually go in!

Once the proof is approved, assuming we are ready to go on the beer, we place an order for our first round of cans. If this is a high point beer (>4%ABV) and we intend to distribute it through our state DABC stores, we will submit the artwork, UPC, pricing and a few other details to them to review prior to them scheduling a tasting. With any luck, they will approve the beer sometime in the next three months...

Around this time, the best part happens. Haas pulls together the ingredients needed to craft this beer, and puts together his brewing plan. Brew day is set, and the wheels are in motion. This idea of a beer, is finally going to become a beer. It is brewed, and pushed into the fermenter to do its thing for 3 weeks.

OK, we have a finished can, and a whole stack of them ready and waiting. We have finished beer, that has the correct flavor profile, and color to match the original idea of the beer - so we are there, we are ready to put that beer in a can. We pull a crew together for a canning run, and package it. One can after another they come off the line. We put them together in six packs and sick packs into cases, cases on to a pallet, ready to go for distribution.

Over the next couple weeks these cases of beer are placed in outlets where you, our friendly RoHa consumer can see them. We will usually launch the beer some how in our package store first - for the early bird to come and grab. Distribution channels flow, and the beer is placed on the shelf for you to pick up on your Saturday outing.

And that, is a high level overview of how we get a beer from our heads into your fridge. Simple right?!? Cheers!