Growing from home brewers to international exporters, Deep Creek Brewing Company chose Abel® ERP to integrate their business systems and automate workflows – delivering more efficiency, industry-critical traceability and the flexibility for future growth.
Good friends, a love of beer and a home-brewing kit don’t always add up to an award-winning business. But that’s all it took in 2011 to launch Deep Creek from a suburban Auckland garage.
Since then, Deep Creek’s handcrafted, strong-flavoured ales and sour beers have been winning the kudos of taste buds around the world – earning gold medals and top trophies in New Zealand and Australian beer competitions and landing on retail shelves and in bars as far away as China, England and Norway.
For co-founder Paul Brown, the growing thirst for Deep Creek’s products is a testament to their start-up spirit to craft high-quality beers with a Kiwi twist that appeal to beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers alike.
“Our passion for beer hasn’t changed at all,” he says. “We’ve moved from brewing in a Browns Bay garage to a brew pub to a dedicated brewery, but we’re still handcrafting great beer, experimenting with new flavours and having fun with new styles.”
So far, Deep Creek has created 250 different beers, everything from traditional styles, like lagers and pale ales, to hazy IPAs and sour-style beers. Each is branded with colourful packaging and high-spirited names like Dusty Gringo, Leprechauns Belle, Miss Tiki and Diep Kriek, a cherry sour beer honoured with the Champion Award at the 2019 Brewers Guild of New Zealand competition.
To help meet growing demand, Deep Creek opened a purpose-built, 1000-square-metre brewery and tap room in 2013, with a capacity to produce one million litres annually. A few years later, Paul says, the company decided it was time to raise the bar for their business management systems.
After considering other ERP solutions, Deep Creek chose Abel to provide one integrated system to streamline and better manage their financial data, core manufacturing and supply-chain processes, and other workflows.
“We knew we needed a system with a lot of functionality, control and the flexibility to grow with our business,” Paul says. “Only Abel put these three things together at a reasonable price point.”
Paul says Deep Creek worked closely with Abel during the implementation, as well as taking the time to improve their own systems. “Working with Abel went as well as I could expect. We changed from three different software systems to one integrated system and it was working perfectly within a month.”
One significant improvement, Paul says, is Abel’s batch-control capability. The bar-coded system records and tracks every product that goes into Deep Creek’s large range of permanent and seasonal offerings. This includes their different hops and yeast and the hundreds of other ingredients used to concoct their adventurous flavours, like cherries, chardonnay juice, raspberry puree and coriander seeds.
MPI compliance was a key factor in Deep Creek’s decision to choose Abel ERP. “We not only have better control of our stock, but also the end-to-end traceability we needed for quality control and compliance with New Zealand’s rigid food safety regulations,” he says.
Abel’s automated Bill of Materials (BOM) load makes bringing new products on stream a much more efficient process. “For a business that’s created hundreds of different products and more on the way, it’s now a quick and accurate process, and a very useful addition to our business,” Paul says.
One more way Abel has enhanced Deep Creek’s overall efficiency and reliability is by automating the calculation of alcohol excise tax – a niggling computation based on the individual alcohol content of each product. “It was a time-consuming manual process that had been hard to get good software for,” he says, “but Abel sorted it out with little effort.”
“This solution is a great example of how much Abel offers,” he says. “If you have a problem or want to do something differently or just think ‘I wouldn’t mind having this functionality’, Abel can get it across the line easily and inexpensively.”
Abel has been great for Deep Creek,” he says. “The bottom line is Abel has improved our business and paid for itself very quickly. With Abel, it’s not a matter of needing more, but rather utilising what the system offers more effectively. It also gives us the flexibility and confidence to help us to continue to grow.”
Paul says Abel also came to the rescue at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. With bars closed and sales declining, Deep Creek turned to Abel to add e-commerce functionality to their website, automating the online sales process from order to dispatch, including printing destination-specific courier labels.
“We’d been thinking about this for a while, but it took on more urgency because of COVID-19,” he says. “Abel had it up and running in less than two weeks and it’s been driving in revenue we hadn’t counted on.”
Paul says having an easy-to-use and intuitive system has simplified tasks for Deep Creek’s team. “Whenever someone says they’re not sure how to do something in Abel, I tell them to process it the same way they’re physically doing it on the ground and then their question goes away. In a lot of systems, it’s not so obvious what to do. But Abel is really simple.”
Overall, Paul says, Abel has given Deep Creek the integration and functionality they wanted across their business.
“Abel has been great for Deep Creek,” he says. “The bottom line is Abel has improved our business and paid for itself very quickly. With Abel, it’s not a matter of needing more, but rather utilising what the system offers more effectively. It also gives us the flexibility and confidence to help us to continue to grow.”