Pile O' Bones allowed an independent crew to come into their facility (in Regina SK) to film how they use Brew Ninja on a daily basis.
"It's hard to quantify just how much Brew Ninja's helped us".
- Glenn Valgardson, General Manager at Pile o' Bones
Case Study Video
Honouring The Past: Brewing The Future
One Saskatchewan-based brewer is trailblazing better-tasting beer whilst raising a glass to the area’s Indigenous past.
For the founders of Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company, it felt right to recognize the historic roots of their home city. Known variously as Wascana, Oksana, and Pile O’ Bones, it was renamed Regina for Queen Victoria in 1903.
In logo, name, and spirit, Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company serves as a reminder of the Indigenous peoples that inhabited the area for thousands of years before it became Treaty 4 land. Like the piles of bison bones left to honour the deceased animals’ spirits, their brand represents devotion and commitment to the local community.
Combine these noble intentions with a group of award-winning home brewers, and craft beer connoisseurs, and you have the makings of one of the finest and largest craft brewers in Saskatchewan.
A Brewery Built On Best-Quality Beer
To say brewing great beer came easy would be an injustice to the team at Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company. Whether it’s the years spent actively promoting local home brewing or attaining the rank of “Certified” through the Beer Judge Certification - they’re the enthusiasts who turned pro.
Pile O’ Bones is a brewery built on great quality-beer, with a backbone of Brew Ninja. For any scaling business, oversight is key. Using Brew Ninja software has enabled Pile O’ Bones to pivot from a manual system involving multiple spreadsheets to a unified hub model.
Now Pile o' Bones has complete oversight of the brewery operations, from the information inputted by brewers to the sales team. And he doesn’t miss the long hours spent going in and out of spreadsheets, trying to track as much as he could, instead of focusing on the right stuff - which was brewing great beer.
Going Ninja On Accountability
With regulations frequently increasing and changing, Pile O’ Bones needed software to help them adapt and maintain accountability. They’d used other less integrated software for their business, but it wasn’t until Pile O’ Bones tried Brew Ninja that they found a ‘great’ solution to their statutory accountability requirements.
“What a lot of folks don't realize, especially when they first get into this, is that the brewing business is tremendously regulated. We are government controlled, with different federal regulations coming in.” - Glenn Valdardson, General Manager, Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company
Needing to be accountable for every step of the process and every input that you have in a product, is a demand on both time and resources. For example, if you have a recall on a batch of beer, Brew Ninja can help you trace it back to a specific lot and every product associated with it.
Reporting The Brews
For the owner and the people responsible for the brewery turning a profit, Brew Ninja has extensive reporting functionality. And just how many things it can track.
Glenn uses it for account maintenance, generating a list of customers who haven’t ordered from them in the past month - he calls it his Monday morning call sheet.
You can also use it to track kegs. A lot of start-ups aren’t aware of the cost of kegs, and how they need collecting once the customer has finished with the contents.
Deliveries are more efficient because drivers can access Brew Ninja on their phones and identify if a customer has empty kegs needing collection.
So instead of losing 100 kegs a year, and writing them all off, the software helps Pile O’ Bones find them. In fact, it means Brew Ninja software actually pays for itself in kegs found.
As Glenn, says to the drivers: “Go get those kegs!”
Your Inventory - Live!
Brew Ninja is also a handy tool for tracking the inventory and ordering more ingredients. For example, if the grain store drops to below 30% Glenn gets an alert from the software.
Like a lot of craft breweries, Pile O’ Bones has a couple of core brews which are always in high demand. That means, week to week, it can be difficult to forecast how many kegs will be needed. When the sales come in fast, it’s a challenge to keep up.
With Brew Ninja, Glenn has a clear overview of what’s available, so he can keep his customers in beer.
“Knowing your inventory live when you’re selling beer as a small craft producer is the most important thing." - Glenn Valdardson, General Manager, Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company
Cost Effective Software
For Operations Manager, Brent Babyak, Brew Ninja is both affordable and effective software. And one of the most unexpected savings is that Pile O’ Bones don’t actually need to employ a bookkeeper on staff.
That’s because Brent and Head Brewer Nathan do most of the data entry themselves, from their phones, for things like purchase orders. Plus, the delivery team records the sales by means of QuickBooks integration.
One of the most valuable features of the software is its ability to run a ‘just-in-time’ inventory, which means that the company doesn't have to sit on costly amounts of product on both the production and sales sides of the business.
“Being that beer is a spoil-able product, it means that we’re not making beer that we don’t need for months on end.” - Brent Babyak, Operations Manager, Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company
And the data collection isn’t an additional administrative burden because they’re essentially just recording what was done that day - valuable data used to run the business.
Despite being one of the largest craft breweries in the region, Pile O’ Bones have been able to keep a modest-sized back end team because the software enables them to be efficient with their time, and keep tabs on their costs.
That means Pile O’Bones can be more efficient and make a bit more money.
Making A Financial Statement
With QuickBooks integration, Brew Ninja enables Pile O’ Bones to keep their financial statements up to date. Particularly during the pandemic, this allowed them to make financial decisions at any given point in time.
“It saves hours of time a week. It integrates for inventory. It integrates for sales. And it’s basically the CRM wing of QuickBooks as well.” - Brent Babyak, Operations Manager, Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company
With all the relevant data entered directly into Brew Ninja, everything is in one place. So the company’s delivery processes have been refined. The inbuilt delivery routing enables the team to pick orders in succession, a job that used to take most of the day. In the past, they’d use a spreadsheet and a tick list.
Now, their drivers use the Brew Ninja mobile app to scan and pick kegs at the time of delivery. After the delivery, the data is entered into the app and QuickBooks automatically generates an invoice.
So they’re always getting paid for their beer.
Showing Brew Ninja Moves
In terms of quality assurance and cost reduction, Brew Ninja can also help to monitor shrinkage.
“I can calculate how much beer is lost, from producing the beer to transferring the beer and packaging it.” - Nathan Kary, Head Brewer, Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company
Nathan also uses Brew Ninja to plan out the quantities of ingredients needed for upcoming production schedules. From PH levels on brew days to gravity measurements during fermentation, Brew Ninja allows him to track data from the time he creates the recipe, to the time he packages the product.
In fact, it helps with everything from scheduling and tracking costs, to keeping track of lots and materials. They’ve really benefited from the keg tracking and lot tracking functionality. What used to involve a wet piece of paper and running ink now involves scanning the kegs as they package them, right from their phones.
Having tried a variety of competing software solutions, for Head Brewer, Nathan Kary, nothing comes close to Brew Ninja. Not only is it easy to use on both phones and computers, it has a lot of features not found in alternative systems.
And it’s those features helping Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company stay at the forefront and future of Canadian craft brewing.
"....if you took this away from your brewery or you took that away from your things, the one thing I'm not willing to lose is Brew Ninja."
- Glenn Valgardson, General Manager at Pile o' Bones
Check out Pile o' Bones