The Inside Scoop on the Beer Vending Machine

November 15,2011 by 12 Comments

Beer Vending Machine at Arnold AgencyHave you heard about the tweeting, beer dispensing vending machine named Arnie?

If not, you can read about it here.

In short, it’s for the employees of the Arnold advertising agency in Boston. Talk about a pleasant work environment.

As a beer geek, I wanted to find out more about the brews this thing is popping out. Below is a Q&A with Greg Murphy, the self described Social Media Manager and Resident Brew Master at Arnold Worldwide.

Q&A with Greg Murphy, Arnold Worldwide

Who brews the beer for the vending machine?
A team of 3-4 people, including myself, brew the beer at Barleycorn’s in Natick, Mass., which is a Brew on Premise (BOP) business.

How were the beer styles decided? Were there requests from Arnold or was it mainly up to the brewer?
The beer styles are based on level of expected popularity, seasonal styles and, now that the machine is in operation, ratings. The first run was up to the brewers and, going forward, we’ll take the preferences of the agency into account. For our first run, we brewed six styles of beer: a Pilsner, a German Alt (old style) ale, an IPA, an Oktoberfest (like Spaten), a Kölsch and a Scottish Ale.

The article mentions the employees are involved in the brewing process. How are they involved?
We have a core team that works on the project and brews the beer, but we encourage anyone from the agency who’s interested to join us at Barleycorn’s to learn and help with the process. The employees at Barleycorn’s help oversee the process as well.

Has the vending machine converted anybody to craft beer who previously wasn’t a fan?
I’ve heard of several folks who have tried new varieties because of the machine. People who usually “stick to Miller” have the opportunity to try some new styles. We’d like to think it will encourage others to check out other small breweries.

The machine has a “data visualization feature”. Do you know which beers are the most popular?
The data visualization allows users to see their beer consumption history. Our highest-rated beer since the launch on November 2 is our Kölsch

End of Q&A

A few comments. The fact that these were made at a Brew on Premise was surprising – I figured they were made at a contract brewery. I’ve said before that I like the BOP idea and this is a benefit I hadn’t thought of. You could turn it into a sort of employee bonding experience (and then drink the fruits of your labor).

The range of beer styles is impressive. I was expecting a stout, pale, amber, and brown, but to see that they made an Alt and Scottish ale says something about the evolution of American beer culture.

Thanks to Greg for the responses.

This is one of those things you talk about with your buddy at the bar (“Dude, what if the vending machine at work served BEER!?!”) but never expect to actually happen. Very cool.

Now does that data visualization feature correlate beer sales to worker productivity? ; )

About Billy Broas

He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

12 responses to “The Inside Scoop on the Beer Vending Machine”

  1. PA_Jeff says:

    did they have to educate the employees about homebrew (IE: “the stuff in the bottom of the bottle is normal”, “drink from a glass”)? Do they bottle condition for a period prior to putting it in the machine? Do they collect the bottles for reuse?

    And it goes without saying (but I’m going to anyway) that it’s *so* much cooler that they’re choosing to stock this with homebrew rather than some simple BMC products…

    • Billy Broas says:

      Good questions Jeff. I’ll see if I can get Greg in here to answer them. Yea if Bud Light Platinum were included in the lineup this post would never exist. Cheers to homebrew.

      • Greg says:

        Hey Jeff and Billy. To answer your questions, we don’t bottle condition, the BOP that we brew the beer at is able to carbonate the beer without conditioning, which is vital as the beer is filtered before bottling. This way, we can introduce our audience to homebrew without the sediment. Also, we don’t have a system in place to r re-use the bottles, but we do recycle them.

  2. U, Steve says:

    Love the post Billy. Can’t believe some Ad agency has their own beer vending machine. Outstanding. I showed this to some work colleagues who asked, ” How does it card you for drinking age?” I assume all of those working at the Agency are of drinking age. Drinking on the job , or just off the job? I could use one in my garage. Stock it with your beers. Thanks for sending. Are you home for Thanksgiving?

    • Greg says:

      Hey Steve, the sign up process for the RFID fobs that users need in order to vend a beer requires that the user be 21+. Glad you like the machine!

  3. Joe Nagy says:

    Very cool stuff, but one of the first things that jumped out at me is the lack of imagination in the labeling for an advertising agency. The labels are just a step above Costco’s private branding!

    • Billy Broas says:

      I would do some sort of character for Arnie on the label. A robot maybe. Then again my beer has always been better than my branding.

  4. Sheppy says:

    I’ve read about this elsewhere on the web. Good job getting the interview, Billy.

    I’m jealous. I’ve brought in and passed out home-brew at work (to be taken home as it is against company policy to drink on site). But, having a vending machine is just beyond cool.

    • Billy Broas says:

      Thanks Sheppy. This would be great even if all you could do was grab a beer on Friday on the way out of work. We can dream…

  5. tom kanick says:

    Here is the real brew bucket game!!!
    Check out the Brew Bucket Vending Game

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