Finding Space for Craft Beer Storage amid Changing Market

For one beer distributor, the craft beer boom meant finding a craft beer storage solution to handle double the SKUs.
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“Craft beer is exploding.” This observation from an Operations Manager at a beer distribution company is great news for beer aficionados and beer distributors – but it’s not without its complications. Despite minimal growth in the mainstream beer market, the craft beer segment grew 17% in 2014. Although craft beer still only accounts for only 6.5% of the beer U.S. beer market, craft breweries account for 98% of the breweries.

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Heavy-duty mobile shelving can help you increase the capacity and efficiency of your craft beer storage, and streamline your warehouse inventory management. In the golden age of craft beer, distributors have to be poised to accommodate more variety and volume than ever.

More Kegs, More Problems

For beer distributors, the proliferation of unique microbrews means more market opportunities, but also means more products, space, and capital needed to accommodate them. One Midwest beer distribution company was struggling with these facets of the changing beer landscape. Said the operations manager, “The business has changed. The SKUs have basically doubled over the past three years.” Unfortunately, the distributor had a fixed amount of cooler storage space, and it became increasingly difficult to handle the influx of new product at the warehouse.

With overcrowded coolers, retrieving kegs became a frustrating ordeal. The 1500 square foot storage cooler was lined with racks of static shelving. Kegs were stacked one on top of the other on the shelves and on pallets in the center of the floor. Employees had to unload the cooler each morning just to get into the cooler and access to the kegs for distribution that day. The accessibility issue slowed operations and created an inefficient process that could slow deliveries. Unstacking and restacking the 165 pound kegs was not only inefficient, but also posed a possibility for injury. The distributor considered adding additional warehouse space, but doing so was capital-intensive and would require additional employees.

Beer kegs stored on a powered mobile pallet racking system
Beer kegs on a powered mobile pallet racking system in a warehouse
92% percent of breweries operating in the United States that are small to mid-sized craft breweries.

Tapping into a New Storage Solution

The operations Manager reached out to Dave Poissant, a representative from McCormick Storage Solutions LLC, an authorized Spacesaver distributor in their area. When Dave pointed out to the manager that the storage problem would only be amplified in the coming years, the Operations Manager decided it was time to do something about their craft beer storage and expand the cooler. Dave recommended they install ActivRAC 16P powered mobile racking.

The ActivRAC system designed for the beer distributor used new and existing pallet racking and eliminated idle aisles to maximize space. The heavy duty carriages support up to 16,000 pounds to easily hold the weight of the half-barrels stored on the system. The ActivRAC shelves hold 700 kegs, 100% more than their old static racking, which meant the new cooler had double the capacity anticipated without purchasing new warehouse space.

Beer kegs on powered mobile racking system in a warehouse
"I would tell anyone to get ActivRAC to stay competitive."

- Operations Manager

With the improved craft beer storage system in place, the distribution center is ready to accommodate the variety of seasonal and craft beers needed to stay competitive. Employees can easily maneuver in and out of the room with a forklift or picker, and gone are the days of emptying the cooler at the start of the day. The increased efficiency and selectivity makes for faster turnover times and less risk of injury on the job. As a bonus, the old cooler has extra capacity for the company to store fine wines and prepare for future growth.