[image-1]Workplace drinking is not a new concept in Charleston. Places like BoomTown and Blue Ion have been operating complimentary in-office bars for years now. It’s all part of the “make your workplace cool” approach that many progressive companies take these days. And why not? Offering craft beer at work is seen as a way to lure in new hires and boost morale. At software development firm Sparc the beer program is so elaborate the company designed its own app alerting employees as to when they can start drinking. When Sparc’s leadership team deems it’s go-time, a traffic light in the middle of the building gives the greenlight. But maintaining the company’s beer supply wasn’t always so easy.
[image-2]“Round trip it would take me two hours,” says Amanda Strungs, Sparc’s marketing, communications, and culture manager. Strungs says she got the gig as office beer wench after volunteering to help select some kegs. That was four years ago, and what started as a fun trip to Bottles once a month to pick up a keg our two has since turned into an elaborate journey involving three employees and a whole lot of bending at the knees.
“You pull your car around, yank them off the taps, load them up — it took a while,” Strungs says, adding that neither Bottles nor Total Wine deliver kegs. But not any more. Thanks to a coworker learning about new Charleston business Brewpublik, Sparc now gets six kegs delivered weekly. In turn, Strungs doesn’t have to deal with cranky coworker emails complaining about her beer choices. “With 300 people you’re never going to make everyone happy,” she says.
Brewpublik, a Charlotte-based company, now offers Charleston businesses in-office beer curation packages for companies as well as monthly beer subscriptions for individuals. After debuting at DIGSouth, it’s taken off like a Hopslam clearance sale.
“We send a beer survey to companies’ employees, then, using our ale-gorithm, we can determine what beers to provide,” explains co-founder Samantha August. Brewpublik delivers the kegs itself and sets up and maintains all of the beer onsite. “We’re also making sure that the options vary so employees get something new each time,” she adds.
That includes getting Charleston businesses some of North Carolina’s more hard-to-find brews. “They can get Wicked Weed and beers like Hop, Drop ‘n Roll, which was a big hit in our office,” says Strungs.
It’s a plan that makes perfect sense to businesses not just in Charleston’s growing tech sector — BoomTown and Sparc — but beyond. Brewpublik has just launched the same program in San Francisco.
And to keep employees hooked, Brewpublik just rolled out a beer club where staff can order six packs of their favorite brews through an app, then have them delivered to the office with the business’s weekly delivery.
“Employees also get access to an Instagram account,” say August. “We post high quality specialty release beers there, then people can comment, and we’ll put those beers in their crate. We just did Founders KBS. It sold out in 37 seconds.”
So how’s the price? Not bad, Strungs says.
“We took advantage of getting a 20 percent discount per keg for signing up for a year membership. That makes the cost really similar to what we were paying at Bottles which was around $120 per keg.” Now subtract the cost of bruised knees and travel to and from pick-up, plus the benefit of a continually changing tap lineup, and Strungs says the switch to Brewpublik has been well worth it. Having beer in the office, Strungs says, is a huge part of Sparc’s, forgive my jargon, company culture.
“I cannot imagine not having it now. And we haven’t had any issues. People don’t abuse the policy. It’s a privilege. They’re too afraid they’d lose the privilege,” she says. Of course, with great privilege comes great responsibility. Lucky for Strungs, that responsibility is on Brewpublik now.