The (formal) End of The Beer Store Distribution
This is a long time coming for us. I think by now any of you who regularly bought our beer at The Beer Store (TBS) have probably realized that there hasn’t been any available there for a while. Many of you have reached out asking if it will return, and we always kept that option open just in case we could manage it again. Unfortunately we can’t. This is our official communication to you, our dear customers who supported us at TBS, that we are discontinuing distribution to TBS.
Why are we discontinuing TBS distribution?
There are a number of reasons why, but the single biggest one is that we simply can’t make enough beer to stock our own bottle shop/beer garden (and now beer bus) on many weekends, and we certainly can’t make enough to bring back on the volume we were doing at TBS before opening our bottle shed. The fact of the matter is that we’re a 1BBL brewery and making beer at this scale is insanely (and I stress insane) inefficient. There is no easy way of scaling up production at this size. When we add a new tank, it adds about 460 or so total bottles of production per month, and at this point there really isn’t room for any new tanks in the brewery, not to mention we’re also maxed out on the time we have to make wort. We’re already brewing 4 times a week and there just isn’t much more these feeble meat suits of ours can crank out. We only have 600 square feet of space to take water, hops, barley and yeast and put it in a bottle and we all have other jobs that we need to give 40 hours a week to on top of that. So unfortunately it’s not as simple as just adding more tanks, because ultimately it’s our brew house that is the bottle neck.
The second biggest reason is that we never really wanted to be in TBS at all, because the plan had always been to drive sales at our bottle shop (but we couldn't wait forever to get beer out there). I wrote a big long blog post on it a year and a half or so ago when we first started distributing to TBS about why we decided on selling there, and the very short coles notes is that we just wanted to provide you guys with a way of having bottles of our beer at home until we could offer on-site retail. TBS was the quickest/most cost effective way of doing that. But now we have a bottle shop, and when we have the beer available, we also have online ordering/shipping. I realize these options definitely aren’t as convenient, or in the case of online shipping, cost effective as swinging by your local TBS (assuming we stocked one near you), but both our on-site and online offerings are frankly infinitely better both for our own business health and from a freshness and quality control perspective for the beer (not to mention the new found variety we can provide).
Will we ever be back at TBS?
I mean never say never, but I highly doubt it. I have my own reasons for not liking TBS, LCBO and just the antiquated tire fire that is Ontario beer distribution and retail sale in general, and I could write 3000 words about that in itself, but long story short: I would prefer to never have to re-enter those sales networks ever again if possible.
How You Can Buy Our Beer Now
We will be focusing all of our energy on what we’ve been doing since May: running our bottle shop and beer garden (which now features a bus!) This has always been what we want to do. We want to make the best beer we possibly can, but we also want to be able to curate a very unique experience on-site for you to enjoy that beer while also getting to know the people behind it. If you’ve ever been to our bottle shed, you’ll realize what we mean by unique. It’s literally on our front lawn and we’ve just continuously added things as we were able to turn it into the beer garden you see today. It also more than likely means that you’ve met the entire Badlands team. The three of us are almost always working Saturdays, and we are also the very same three people responsible for making the rest of the operation run behind the scenes.
Does that mean there will be more beer on-site soon?
Kinda sorta. We’re working on one final small upgrade on our current fermentation capacity to take production volume up another 30% ish, which we’ve just completed and will be brewing into for the first time this week (pray all goes well for us!) But that is truly as much as we’ll be able to push through that brew house. Even just thinking about producing 30% more wort than we currently do gives me nightmares. But that’s it. This is what we can do. We’re at full max, maximum, mostest, most we can produce with our current system/set up.
In the longer term we’re working on a much larger expansion (that hanger looking building we haven’t talked about in a while), but that is still so far off that it’s not going to helping production volume any time in 2019… or 2020 realistically. We’ll have more updates on how that is going in the New Year.
To those who have been waiting for us to return to the TBS, I’m sorry that we’re letting you down, but I hope that you can at least see our reasoning for why, and I also hope that you can make it out to our place one of these Saturdays!