‘The beer space is due for disruption’: BrewPublik eyes nationwide craft beer delivery expansion

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

BrewPublik is looking to expand its beer delivery operations across the country.
BrewPublik is looking to expand its beer delivery operations across the country.

Related tags Craft beer Beer

The world of craft beer has become increasingly expansive and complex, in both flavor and variety. A North Carolina-based startup wants to make the world simpler for the average consumer.

The company, BrewPublik, is a beer delivery service that uses an algorithm – referred to as “The Beergorithm” – to help its customers discover new beers that will be delivered to their door each month.

Charlie Mulligan, CEO and co-founder of BrewPublik​, told BeverageDaily that this algorithm will take specific beers a customer loves, say Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point for example, and automatically find other similar brews they may enjoy, regardless if it is also an IPA or from Ballast Point.

“We aim to be your one stop shop for craft beer​,” he said. “It’s like bringing your best buddy who knows a ton about craft beer every time you go shopping.”

Each month, a six-, 12- or 24-pack of at least four different kinds of beer are delivered to customers. Packages range in cost from $2.50 per bottle to $3.75 per bottle for a premium package.

Delivery and evolution

BrewPublik is utilizing existing infrastructures from delivery driver apps to deliver beer to its customers quickly, Mulligan said. The company chose this model “very purposefully,”​ he said, as Mulligan believes craft beers taste different in each market. Tapping into existing networks give them hundreds of delivery drivers at an instant.

Within the next couple of months, Mulligan said the company will expand into the mobile app territory to allow customers to order beer on demand anytime they want. Each beer delivery would reach the consumer within 40 minutes.

“With some of the partners we have it can be less than 15,”​ he said.

How can the service be so quick? Mulligan said BrewPublik operates as a licensed retailer in every state, meaning the company buys directly from breweries and distributors and holds the product in their own facilities. In an effort to give consumers the best selection, he said they keep approximately 200 beers available at any given time.

“Every other industry has been disrupted by tech disruptors,” ​he said. “There’s no reason beer can’t be as well … I do think [the service is] disruptive, but I think the beer space is due for disruption.”

A quick expansion

By the end of 2016, BrewPublik plans to do business in 10 US cities, including New York, Austin, Atlanta and Chicago. Mulligan said demand will help dictate where they go first, but he is planning for the company to grow four- to five-times larger by year’s end.  

“We want to make it as convenient to tap into the incredible variety and quality of beer as it is to tap into the incredible variety of TV show and movies,” ​he said. “Right now there’s no nationwide retailer for craft beer; it depends on what the supermarket decides to stock and unless you spend a ton of time obsessing over craft beer, it’s hard to choose. We’re solving all those problems.”

Currently, BrewPublik operates in Charlotte, North Carolina where its headquarters are located and it launched just more than a year ago. It also serves the Raleigh-Durham area and will launch in San Francisco in February, as well as Nashville, Tennessee, in March.

“We have plans to be in pretty much every major metro market by the end of the year,”​ Mulligan said.

This may seem like a quick expansion, but he said they are working with a “very specific playbook”​ to launch in each area.

“We’re able to get up and running pretty quickly,”​ he said. “Having relationship with these delivery services helps too. We want to have a chance to get a feel for every city’s craft beer market and engage with craft brewers in that market to tailor a program that fit sin that in specific market.”

Although Mulligan said the company and the beer industry at large have received more support from the government in recent years, he admitted there will be certain states in which BrewPublik simply cannot operate. As an example, Utah only allows up to 4% alcohol by volume beer to be sold by grocery and convenience stores, making it a bit more difficult for BrewPublik to serve consumers.

“There are certainly going to be challenges,”​ he said. “Another major concern that many people have is wanting to make sure it’s done responsibility. We’re making it easier for people to get alcohol, so we have to make sure it’s going into the hands of the right people.”

Mulligan said unlike an industry of mass consumption, such as frozen pizza, people usually want to take their time and enjoy the craft beer they purchase. While enjoyment is essential, he said the company still needs to be very careful when it comes to checking identification and not serving anyone who is intoxicated.

BrewPublik was recently selected by the San Francisco incubator 500 Startups​. This will be a four-month program that will give the company access to startup experts and an investment of $100,000 in net of fees, $125,000 gross, for 5% of the company.

“They’re going to open up huge doors for us,”​ Mulligan said. “I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from us in 2016.”

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