Running and operating a brewery is no small task. From crafting the perfect hop blend for your seasonal IPA to managing your brew staff and providing an incredible guest experience, there’s a ton on the go at all times. 

Many food and beverage businesses, including breweries, are still using old-fashioned methods to manage their business, like clunky spreadsheets, physical files and tons of paper invoices. While you may have been getting by using these methods to manage your brewery operations until now, eventually, they’ll prevent you from being able to do more of what made you want to start a brewery in the first place–creating awesome beers that folks in your community and beyond want to try.

Honing your processes and finding areas where you can save time will allow you to focus on high-value moves for your brewery business, such as expanding your distribution to more bars and restaurants, collaborating with more breweries on special releases, or getting the best ratings on Untappd.

While there are several ways to streamline your operational processes and improve profitability, a great place to start is to consider your brewery software. Choosing the right collection of software platforms (otherwise known as a tech stack… sort of like a beer flight, but for software) can have a measurable impact on your business performance and make your life a lot easier.

In this blog, we’ll explore how to choose the best brewery management software. 

Why purchase brewery management software

So, why make the case for brewery management software if spreadsheets are “fine”? 

To put it bluntly, manual processes in areas such as accounting and inventory will slow you down once you begin to scale. Procedures that are simply annoying now, could become catastrophic to your business in the future. 

For example, manual credit card processing becomes risky at scale when you’ve expanded your distribution partnerships with bars and restaurants and need reliable cash flow to manage your finances.

The right brewery software can help streamline and eliminate unnecessary manual processes, reducing risk for your business and increasing profits.

Of course, we don’t advocate for software just for software’s sake, so it’s important to choose the right tools for where you’re at now that will allow you to reach the next step in your business goals without going overboard. 

The main benefits of brewery management software are:

  • Automate tasks to save time and reduce risk
  • Get reliable data so that you can make sound business strategy decisions
  • See how your brewery business is performing on all fronts
  • Equip yourself for the next stage of your business’ growth

What to consider when choosing the best brewery management software for your business

Before jumping in and designing your brewery’s “tech stack” it’s important to consider a few things. 

The most important is integration. Integrations are how your different software tools speak to each other. For example, let’s imagine you have brewery IMS software for managing inventory and an accounting software for finances. Key information (data) needs to be passed between the two platforms to ensure your systems stay up-to-date and accurate. 

Looking for out-of-the-box integrations will help ensure the smooth passing of information. You can also look for a tool like Notch that helps connect ERP/IMS platforms and accounting tools to provide one centralized platform for managing your accounts receivable (money owed to you), accounts payable (money you owe your suppliers), and inventory. Notch can also help take away other manual processes that may slow down your team, like automatically processing payments to ensure you get paid reliably and on time. 

Types of software for brewery management

Now that we’ve discussed how to purchase brewery software, let’s get into the four key types of software to consider. While there’s other software outside of these categories that you may need, like brewery scheduling software or brewery production software, the following categories are what’s necessary for core business operations.

Brewery ERP software 

Brewers use brewery ERP (enterprise resource planning) software to manage day-to-day business activities, such as beverage inventory management, beer production, procurement and keg/supply chain tracking. It can even help you ensure compliance with alcohol board regulation requirements. Every brewery needs brewery inventory software and ERP software as it’s a vital part of running operations.

When selecting your ERP software, we recommend opting for a platform that caters to the brewing industry. While NetSuite and SAP are practically household names for enterprise businesses, they are typically much too cumbersome and expensive for medium-sized businesses like breweries. Luckily, there are a few solid ERP software options for breweries.

Ekos brewery management software

Ekos specializes in the beverage industry and helps to streamline inventory, production, sales, and accounting in one business management solution. From TTB and COGS reporting to inventory management and keg tracking, Ekos helps brewery operations professionals stay organized and informed. 

Ekos offers many integrations including Square, Quickbooks (more on this later!), and Shopify.

Brewninja for breweries

Brewninja is a Canadian-based ERP software focusing solely on brewery businesses, which means they know a thing or two about facilitating smooth business operations. Brewninja’s features include production and inventory management, brewery accounting, and sales and distribution. 

Brewninja offers a ready-to-go integration with Square POS and QuickBooks.

Ollie brewery software

Ollie is another option for brewery software, helping to manage brewery production, raw materials, customers, order processing, inventory, payments, and reporting.

Ollie integrates with Sage, QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, which helps streamline accounting and operational processes.

Brewery POS software

The next category of brewery software is POS software. If you’re selling off-sale beers or you have a brewpub or tasting room in your brewery, you’re going to need a POS to collect payment from customers. POS software automates transactions and tracks important sales data.

Two of the main providers in this category are Square and Clover–both are a good fit for small-to-medium-sized businesses like breweries. Square tends to be more highly regarded on software review websites.

The main difference between Square and Clover is Clover lets you choose your payment processor, while Square is its own payment processor. Additionally, Square offers free POS software, whereas Clover doesn’t. Square’s pricing structure is also more straightforward.

Brewery accounting software

When it comes to operating a business, your books must be in tip-top shape, which means brewery accounting software is critical for ensuring your financial affairs are in order. Tracking accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash flow, and tax information accurately are non-negotiables. 

Luckily, there are several robust accounting software options on the market. And while most don’t cater directly to breweries, you can rest assured that they have what you need.

QuickBooks Online is one of the most common accounting software we see breweries using today (which is why we built an integration with it!) Several leading ERP platforms for breweries also integrate with QuickBooks. With the Ekos integration with QuickBooks, for example, you can sync all inventory receipts, invoices, companies, journal entries, and credit memos. ERPs Brew Ninja and Ollie also offer QuickBooks integrations.

Other accounting software options include Xero, Sage, and Spire.

Brewery software for intelligence and reporting

By moving your processes and procedures online and into software, you also benefit from the vast amounts of business operations data that’s collected every day just by doing your work. This data is a valuable resource to brewery operators. It can help you detect issues before they become major problems and identify strategic business growth opportunities. It’s also helpful to understand how your brewery’s sales performance is improving over time.

DigThisData is a business intelligence and sales platform for alcohol vendors in Canada. It can help you keep tabs on inventory, stock–out, velocity, competitive sales, and more. An important perk of opting for a platform like DigThisData that’s purpose-built for breweries is it can help with beverage-industry needs like selling to licensees online.

Level up your brewery software stack

We know brewery accounting software can be intimidating, and our goal is to make it as easy as to understand as possible. Notch integrates with top ERP and accounting software, making your brewery business operations a breeze. 

Want to learn more about how Notch can streamline your brewery software? Book a demo today.