Friday, July 20, 2012

I'll Take Two Pallets to Go, Please

Walking into the Monarch Beverage Company warehouse outside Indianapolis, IN, for a tour during the 2012 Beer Bloggers Conference, I thought 1.3 million cases was a lot of beer.  That's until Bob Mack of World Class Beverages, a division of Monarch, told us it was only a three week supply for one of the Country's largest distributors.


There were stacks of Coors Light bigger than my first house, but pallets of craft beer dotted the landscape like a beer geek's treasure hunt.

Monarch Beverage Co.'s facility was our last stop on day two of the beer bloggers conference, coming on the heels of a couple hours enjoying the 17th Annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival.  Before the tour, Monarch treated us to a tasty dinner with a very fine perk at the end: Bell's Brewery's Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout, a very limited, highly desired imperial stout.  Yeah, beer bloggers get the perks that matter.

The main reasons Monarch built the new facility three years ago was the ability to install a custom designed Vertique automatic picking system to handle the high-volume brands.  Full pallets of beer are placed in the system which sorts the individual cases into appropriate stacks for deliveries.  That's right, computers and robots.  For lower-volume brands, think most of the craft-segment beers, there is still quite a bit of automation, but beer loving humans are needed to break down the pallets to place them into the sorting mechanisms. 

The system not only organizes deliveries by store, but organizes the trucks so the deliveries come off the truck in the order of the stops.   Overall, it significantly increases efficiencies for Monarch's 600 employees who fill 80 delivery routes each day. 

My pictures don't do this system justice, but you're fortunately not stuck with my marginal photography skills. Here's a video of the system in action, courtesy of Monarch Beverage:


And now back to the inanimate portion of our programming.  Monarch also has a gigantic beer fridge.  It's the ultimate man cave (if you're keen on chilly temperatures) where stacks of kegs go on for days. Check it out along with more of the action:


  1. I really enjoyed visiting that facility. The amount of beer inside that building was mind boggling. Would have loved to see the robots in action as I'm sure that would have been impressive.

    The Bell's Black Note and also the Gulden Draak 9000 was very tasty. A fun time indeed.

  2. Great shots included in your post! Fun time indeed. I could spend days exploring that place, I think. @worldclassbeer did a great job helping set it all up for sure.

  3. Dave: I can't believe I forgot the Gulden Draak! I guess when I get to taste an imperial stout like Black Note my brain goes all to hell.

    Dan: Agreed! Monarch and World Class Beer really stepped it up for us. The distribution side of things is an area I know the least about and fully appreciated the access and information they provided.