Starting a Brewery – Packaging

Thought it would be interesting for others thinking of starting up a brewery to blog about various topics. Today: Packaging for bottles! What should be a relatively simple process soon gets bogged down in self doubt, gets tied up in marketing and gets held up with lead times.

Boxes should be the first port of call. There is the obvious gazillion times checking that the number of bottles you want in a box actually fit into the box. Get a sample and physically stuff them in there! We’re doing 500ml bottles and putting twelve in a box. You may want to check with your (soon to be) retailers what size of bottle they prefer. Some bars grumble if the bottle is too big for their shelves, which is understandable if they are having to hold your stock where they normally slice the lemons. Life is made of such problems.

Single walled boxes should suffice but check on weights within the box. One single walled box on its own is fine, when you have twenty of them stacked high, boxes buckling and collapsing is something you don’t want to come across when you come in the next morning. Dividers in the box give extra strength but add to the cost of overall packaging. Think about how long your bottles will be boxed. The distance and handling they must undergo to reach the point of sale should be considered. Sending your boxes to Australia is slightly different to delivering a box to the local pub. Volume will also be a factor – if you have a distributer, they may be taking pallets of boxes which could be moved around their warehouse so extra handling – tougher box.

If your sending boxes away on a pallet, you will need to wrap them. Get huge rolls of clingfilm.

Custom printing on boxes is a nice touch. An alternative is printed packaging tape with your name and logo (get a packing tape gun – it’s just easier!)

If your tracing system tracks boxes, remember to get a decent size stamp.

Lead times (the time from when you order boxes to when you receive them) vary. Check with your supplier to avoid head scratching when your boxes haven’t shown up in a week. Lead times of 2-3 weeks are not uncommon so like everything else in the brewery, plan ahead.

Finally, brewing produces steam which produces moisture. If your extraction / ventilation system doesn’t extract all the steam, consider where or how you store your boxes. Once soggy, they are no more use than wet socks.