Fullsteam Founder, Sean Lilly Wilson talks about how OrchestratedBEER factors into its growth plans and how they plan to use it to tackle challenges of a growing brewery like meeting demand, tracking costs and the limitations of Excel spreadsheets. Here’s a re-cap from our 2012 interview:

About Fullsteam:

Fullsteam logo“Our mission is to explore what it means to be a southern brewery…we’re on a quest to make distinctly southern beer. We’re probably one of the pioneers, if not THE pioneer of this concept of hanging our hat on a southern beer style”

Fullsteam’s selection of southern beers are based around a naming convention that celebrates the labor of past and present with a year-round “Worker’s Compensation” lineup that includes a classic cream ale, a southern lager, a sweet potato beer, and a tribute to southern tradition called “Working Man’s Lunch” – a brew featuring biscuit malts, vanilla, and local Raleigh artisan chocolate.

“We use local ingredients for southern agricultural and food traditions to help form the recipes and help guide our brewing philosophy,” said Wilson,

But perhaps what sets Fullsteam apart from most breweries (despite cool beer themes), is their “crowd-sourced craft beer”. No, it’s not a collaboration of local homebrews sporting a Fullsteam logo. The crowd-sourced “Forager” series is actually a series of draft and sometimes bottled beer brewed with ingredients harvested by the local community.

“We brew with persimmons, sweet potatoes, basil, oats, local 6-row barley, local corn grits and fruit called ‘Paw-paws’ …we’re trying to build it locally and bring a Southern flavor to our beer.”

If your harvest is usable, you’ll get a Special edition forager hat, a pint or bottle of the first fruits of your labor, and the market price for your harvest on a per-pound basis. The best part about the Forager series is the option to donate the proceeds of your harvest to one of Fullsteam’s favorite charities called SEEDS, a Raleigh-based educational community garden that uses gardening and growing food to teach respect for life, for the earth and for each other.

“Fullsteam will craft beers that reflect and celebrate our Southern tradition and the region’s agricultural splendor.”

Business Challenges:

Like many breweries, Fullsteam’s popularity has exploded, which brings about its own challenges. “We grew really fast and then hit a wall, trying to figure how to deal with a veSean profilery strong demand. In a brewery environment we don’t have the capacity to revel in that demand but we have to figure out ways to eke out a profit with equipment that’s undersized for the market potential… The classic ‘good problem to have’…but we’re all tired of hearing that phrase”

Wilson went on to discuss why investing in software like OrchestratedBEER was important to their business:

“We are a growth-oriented brewery, we want to be significant and that’s where OrchestratedBEER comes in. I know we have to do that in a way that tracks our costs, helps us schedule and plan and not frustrate customers in this strong demand scenario that we have. It helps us manage cash wisely because it is such a capital intensive business.” Learn how the automated accounting process works

Why Fullsteam chose OrchestratedBEER:

“We really liked the fact that it was designed for craft breweries. We got a really good feeling from the people behind it and our interactions with you, we felt like your interest in a solution for the craft beer industry was genuine. I saw a demo at the Craft Brewer’s Conference and was really impressed – I really didn’t see any other viable options.”

“To really be able to grow and go beyond the small business level for those breweries that want to make the big leap, it’s going to require investments in technology and infrastructure.” Check out our 2 product offerings

“Without technology like this there’s a lot of guesswork and it’s not a good business to be in if you’re always guessing…it’s not a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of industry. As we grow, (now) three years in, we realized how much we have to plan”

“For those business-minded, growth oriented, high impact breweries – you can’t do it with Excel spreadsheets.”