Hand Bottling West Floridian and Into the Dark Roast

I’m sure everyone knows that most breweries need to package their beer in something besides kegs to be successful. For us, we have chosen 750 ml bottles and 4-packs of 375 ml bottles for our West Floridian and Into the Dark Roast. Seems easy enough, right? We have beer. We put it in a bottle. The end.

But the truth is, there are a lot of moving parts, and all of them are expensive. There are labels, caps, boxes, four-pack holders, and neck ringers. All of them must be designed, and all have minimum quantities when ordering. However, none of these things are even needed if you can’t spare the beer or get it into the bottle in a clean, relatively easy manner.

Our approach is to build a manual filler—we attach several homebrew filler heads bolted together with uni-strut pieces. It looks terrible. It’s super heavy. But it works, and it’s affordable. It’s easy to sanitize and allows us to do a pallet over the course of a day.

It took us a while to assemble all the necessary items for our now polished cases of 4-packs. While we were designing, ordering, and scraping up our pennies over the month, we experimented with bottle runs for limited distribution and in-house sales. We learned quickly a cardboard flat was not a sufficient means for stacking cases of heavy glass bottles.

As the months ticked by, we were finally able to get our case boxes and cardboard 4-pack holders designed, printed, and delivered. Just in time, too. We had our first major order of 125 cases of West Floridian Belgian Quad and 75 cases of Into the Dark Roast Imperial Coffee Stout, shipping out the next day. (If you hadn’t thought of this already-and you probably have- provide a hyperlink for these brews to open a new tab to take readers to the description page)

In preparation, we had filled and stacked several pallets to be restacked in our high-end professionally printed boxes, just in time to get them on the truck. That’s when the reality hit that things were going too smoothly.