By @SimonCocking

We know at the mention of beer, and craft beer in particular many people’s ears suddenly prick up. To have some fun, and show that Irish Tech News is at the forefront of tech, startups, and … craft beer, we’re delighted to bring you some insights from four of Alltech’s most knowledgeable tech brew meisters. Here are some fascinating tech insights, to show you that we are not just here for the beer!

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Some background on Alltech

Founded by Irish entrepreneur Dr. Pearse Lyons in 1980, and headquartered in Kentucky, USA, Alltech provides natural, nutritional solutions to the food and feed industries in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region with a business presence in 128 countries.

Dr. Pearse Lyons began his career in brewing and distilling and it has remained a passion of his ever since. Despite spending the previous 31 years in the animal nutrition industry he never strayed far from brewing and distilling, founding the company on yeast technology and eventually opening a joint brewery and distillery in Lexington. The Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fair was developed as part of the “Gathering Initiative” in 2013 and has grown ever since. The Fair opens its doors at the Convention Centre Dublin on Feb.27 to March 01 and hopes to attract 10,000 craft beer aficionados.

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What sort of technological developments have helped Alltech develop their brewing and or distilleries?

 From Mark Coffman, Master Distiller of Town Branch Distillery in Lexington, Ky.

On one hand, tradition plays a big role in what we do. Distilling is such an old world tradition. We are using very classical distillation. And with our Town Branch Distillery being based in the heart of Kentucky bourbon country, we are also creating a spirit that is America’s only native spirit, that is subject to laws dating back to 1964 – things like only using new white oak bourbon barrels, aging it for at least two years, and using at least 51 percent corn. However, the trend today is just putting more science on raw material and processing – trying to gain optimum recovery of all fermentable sugars. With Alltech having a crop science division, that is something we are able to look at more and more.”

From Ken Lee, Master Brewer at Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.

We upgraded to a new bottling line last year, which took us from filling about 80 bottles per minute to 250 bottles per minute. We went from a very antiquated system – our filler on the old bottling line was even from 1946, to a system that erects cases, carriers, and puts them together. That took a lot of manual labor tasks out of the process and made things much more efficient.

Being a brewery that specializes in barrel aging, we’ve also had to develop blending regimes over several layers to make sure we are putting out a consistent product, and trying to keep that to a narrow band of variability. It’s quite a complex regimen to ensure that our flagship beer, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, is consistent. In general terms, we’ve had to perfect producing a product that is a little bit bourbon, and some beer.

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What tech trends helped Alltech in 2014?

From Danielle Palmer, PR Coordinator for Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.

“Online video continued to be really popular in 2014, and is increasingly a preferred medium for consumers, including craft beer fans. So to capitalise on that trend, our media team filmed a short video that highlighted a local beekeeper who made the honey for our limited edition seasonal beer for winter, Kentucky Honey Barrel Brown Ale.  In the video, we featured the beekeeper, an apiarist, and our master brewer, and of course, used many shots of the honeybees and the honey itself.

We posted this video on social media channels, and it helped to quickly get the word out about the new brew. It also became one of the top five videos on the Alltech website for 2014 which we were very excited about. We’re looking forward to doing more of these so our fans get to know more about our beers and the processes behind them. People are increasingly searching for authenticity in their food and drink, and online content helps them connect with that.”

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Alltech has a good social media presence, any tips for other companies looking to do well in this medium?

From David Butler, Digital Marketing Manager, Alltech

Social media is the culmination of thousands of technological advancements and it can be easy to get caught up in the ‘tech-ier’ aspects, with tools, widgets, metrics, analytics, etc. But it is really important to remember that social networks were built so that people could stay in touch with their friends and maybe make some new ones. The foundation of social networks is technology but the goal is to enable one-to-one communication between humans.

Companies that want to “use” social media have to remember that people are there to talk to their friends, not to absorb brand messages. But it is possible to make a connection. At the end of the day, companies are really just groups of people. If your company can have real conversations and make some new friends via social media then that is the best metric of all.

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