Dorchester Brewing

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By in Uncategorized Comments Off on Partner Brewing Use Cases: Cost Savings & Efficiency

Partner Brewing Use Cases: Cost Savings & Efficiency

One of the most important, immediate, and tangible benefits in using a partner brewing facility like Dorchester Brewing Co. is the production savings it can offer without ever sacrificing on quality. Economies of scale in the brewhouse, cellar, packaging array and in sourcing raw materials offer many small-to-medium breweries significantly lower production costs when they move to partner brewing, opening up opportunities for both competitive frontline pricing positions and increased margin to capture both in your taproom and in distribution. 

There are three core reasons that we’re able to deliver efficiency and savings to our partners: economies of scale in ordering, expertise in sourcing, and outsized technology investment throughout the entire facility.


Since we opened in 2016, our model has always been as a partner brewer – so we built out our brewhouse, cellar, and facility with that in mind. That means a four-vessel 30bbl brewhouse, a centrifuge, a 19 FV cellar from 30-60bbl, a top-of-the-line 24-head digital volumetric rotary fill canning line, a 4000 sq. ft. cold box, and a dedicated lab with full-time QA/QC manager. A four-vessel brewhouse operating at 91-92% efficiency allows us to maximize yield using high-gravity brewing techniques and liquor down, increasing efficiency. Our German Krones canning line also allows for only 1mL of variance by design, meaning that there’s less waste during packaging, while also ensuring the maintenance of quality from brite tank to can. Running all our beers through a centrifuge not only increases efficiency and volume of packaged beer, but also helps create more shelf stable and higher quality products – for example, stable haze in your newest hazy IPA recipe that won’t fall out after a few weeks on a shelf. We also provide a full QA/QC report and guaranteed cold storage after production and until pick-up, ensuring that all the beer that goes into the market with your brand is exactly where you need it to be.  All of these systems and methods were perfected by experienced staff,  world-class integrators (Zajac out of Maine) and only after talking with over 100 breweries about what makes a perfect manufacturing plant for their beer. 

All of these investments, which were developed by looking at every possible point of loss as an area for improvement utilizing lean manufacturing methods, serve to increase efficiency and maximize yield on your beer – meaning more beer that you have packaged to pour and sell. When virtually all of our partners move their production to us, they see an 8-12% increase in their overall efficiency and yield while improving quality and stability.

Most of these capex investments that we’ve made over the years aren’t realistic for smaller craft breweries, whether because of the space and footprint needed, or because of the prohibitive costs and experience needed to optimize and run the equipment. But because we’ve been a large-format partner brewer since our inception, our facilities are outsized relative to [almost all of] our partners individually. We’ve made the investment in the equipment and facilities so that you don’t have to – but can still access and leverage our investment when making your beer.


On the front end with ordering, there are also economies of scale that we can offer on pricing for raw materials, further dropping ingredient and production costs on hops, grains, yeast, seltzer base materials, fruit purees… all of it. 

We essentially compile orders for ourselves as well as the 10-15 partners that we’re working with at any given time, meaning that our orders and contracts are larger than any one individually. This gives us access to bulk discounts, and also increased leverage in negotiating contracts on raw materials and other inputs. This means lower costs on high quality bulk 2-row, aluminum cans and specialty grains, and high-quality hops – and it also means that during the recent CO2 shortage, not only were we able to maintain the brew schedule for every single one of our partners, it also meant that our costs on CO2 did not skyrocket (and then get passed along to partners) because of the contract volume and leverage that we have with our supplier. 


Going hand-in-hand with our economies of scale in ordering, we also have an in-house expertise and team sourcing high-quality materials. Even with all the recent shortages, price hikes, supply chain issues, and astronomical shipping costs, our production and pricing have remained steady. This expertise translates not only as lower pricing on ingredients like hops, but also in accessing higher quality hops while still cutting production costs for our partners. As just one key recent example, there is a massive difference between 2021 Mosaic and 2019 Mosaic hops – and knowing which one to contract is key to producing great beer.

Ultimately, cost savings in production is an important piece of the puzzle for our partners – but producing the highest quality beer is the foundation and north star. Our experience in sourcing, as well as our economies of scale allows us to do both for our partners, without sacrificing quality just to drop your per-case production costs. We negotiate all of our supplier contracts, but we absolutely do not negotiate on the quality of beer that we produce, whether it’s wrapped in our label or yours. 


All of our partner production contracts are on a “cost plus” model – and we feel all manufacturers should operate this way. This means that it’s not a back-and-forth negotiation where someone will try to get you to agree to as high a price as possible without regard for the material cost and input, nor is it an unsustainably low, seemingly-competitive price that is going to incentivize the producers of your beer or seltzer to cut corners and use low quality ingredients in order to not lose money on production. You should demand full transparency.  

Our commitment to this pricing model means that the benefits of our economies of scale – bulk discounts on raw ingredients and inputs that we get because we’re shrewdly ordering in higher volume than any one individual of our partner breweries – gets passed along directly to you as savings. We bill our partners for materials at our cost for those goods, plus labor and a small breakage buffer of 1-3%. If we’re getting our bulk 2-row for $x per pound, we’re billing it out to our partners at that same price, with a small and transparent surcharge. There are three really important reasons that we have built our partner cost modeling this way:

  1. Transparency: We want partners to know where our pricing comes from and the reasoning behind it. Some contract breweries out there will start negotiating price at an artificially high anchor number, trying to maximize their own margin as you winnow and negotiate down. We don’t want our partners to agree to one pricing with us, and then find out that a different partner of the same size, and with a similar recipe is paying significantly less just because they drove a harder bargain. Also, by understanding detailed pricing, our brewing team can also work with you to optimize your recipes for quality, yield, and cost at scale on our system. Many breweries that come to us don’t have complete clarity on what their beer actually costs per bbl to produce. Full pricing transparency and an experienced, invested team that cares about your beer changes that and helps you optimize for both quality and margin.
  2. The right incentives: Over the last few years, there have been many small-to-medium craft breweries that have turned to contract brewing as a way to occupy excess capacity that they have due to the softening economy, the impacts of COVID, and a host of other factors impacting their business. Because price is such an important consideration in signing on with a contract brewery, many of these newer, not-built-to-contract brew entries into the market are undercutting with unsustainable negative-margin pricing – which incentivizes them to cut corners on quality to not lose money on every batch of beer they make. Price is important – but if the price you’re quoted is WAY too good to be true, then it might be. Out of desperation, some of these other contract breweries are quoting artificially low price points, and then swapping out quality ingredients for lower cost ones that are going to negatively affect the beer in the can. Additionally, many of these breweries have not optimized their process with the necessary equipment to drive quality and yield on their partners’ beers.
  3. Sustainable two-way partnership: We believe that partner brewing is a crucial and important service in the ecosystem of the craft beer industry, and we want all of our partnerships to function sustainably for all stakeholders. We want to help our partners reduce costs of production so that they can build and grow a brand and a business, shifting resources into sales and marketing, rather than equipment. We also want that production partnership to contribute to the long-term health of our own business. The “cost plus” model is the best way that we have found to do this – the way that we know works, and has worked for us and all of our partners since 2016 – allowing everyone to thrive, grow, and keep producing great beer.

To put a couple of specific examples to these costs:

  1. Savings can be meaningful – A New England-based seltzer company we are just beginning to work with will see an additional $7000 per 60bbl batch (after included shipping costs) due to savings on raw materials and production costs.
  2. A brewery we work with from Massachusetts saw a drop in production costs from $41 per CE to $28 per CE. That’s a 32% decrease in production costs – to be reinvested in competitive frontline pricing, margin, and their business.
  3. We have pre-negotiated label pricing that is accessible (though not mandatory, if you have a preferred label vendor) to all of our partners. For many of our partners, this ends up saving 5-6 cents per can, meaning an additional $1.20-1.44 per case in savings. Over a 60bbl batch, this means $750-900 in savings that drops straight to your bottom line as increased margin.
  4. Our bulk silo malt is a high quality North American Rahr 2-Row coming in at around 30-35 cents per pound. Most breweries would pay 45-60 cents per pound for this same grain – but we’re able to pass those savings to you.  

The most important piece to recognize about these savings in production costs is that they’re all generated from process improvements and economies of scale that we have in sourcing and running equipment and ingredients – and NEVER from de-investing in materials or the quality of your beer. We price and treat every partner beer as if it was our own, and take great pride in the liquids we produce and package – whether they’re going out into market with our label or under the brand of our partners.

By in News Comments Off on Craft Brewers: D.O. Testing & Seam Checks

Craft Brewers: D.O. Testing & Seam Checks

Free D.O. Testing & Digital Seam Checking

It’s just one hit after another – pandemic, aluminum and then wheat prices, and now CO2 shortages.

With the recent availability issues with CO2 from suppliers across New England, we know that a lot of breweries have moved or are in the process of transitioning as much as possible from CO2 to nitrogen for brewery operations. Since it’s a new fix for a lot of us, there are still questions on how to effectively make the switch without impacting the quality of the beer – especially with respect to oxygen pick-up and DOs in the final product.

To help breweries in New England during this [potential] transition, we would like to support, by using our dedicated QA/QC lab, team, and facilities to test your DOs and can seams for free. Our experienced team will take care of testing DOs, doing digital seam checks, and sending you a QA report.

Why are we doing this? Because we love great beer, and we believe it’s important to be a part of the solution for high-quality execution for our friends and community in New England craft beer. We’ve also done some recent interviews and podcasts about the transition to nitrogen, in the hopes of being a resource to other breweries:

Craft Beer & Brewing Industry Guide: As the CO2 Shortage Drags On, Is Nitrogen an Option for Your Brewery?

Brewer Magazine: Quick Steps Dorchester Says Can Help Lower Your CO2 Usage

Brewbound Podcast: The Latest on the CO2 Issues (feat. James Haugh of Dorchester Brewing & Amy George of Earthly Labs)

To learn more about the DO and seam checking offer, email or complete the form on our website ( to get the process going. It’s our way of helping the New England craft community ensure quality, regardless of brewery size.

The Dorchester Brewing Team

By in Meet Our Team Comments Off on Meet the Team: Drew Shalian, Sales Manager

Meet the Team: Drew Shalian, Sales Manager

You may have noticed we’ve been stepping up our wholesale game with more and more DBco cans and taps popping up around the state of Massachusetts in restuarants, bars, retail and liquor stores. Along with our new look we rolled out with brand spankin’ new labels, we are so happy to also share the face behind our sales game – Drew Shalian, our new Sales Manager here at Dorchester Brewing Company. Along with our distributor, Craft Collective, Drew is committed to making sure our freshly brewed craft beer is sent out into the world to enjoy!

Meet Drew!

I grew up in Boston and southern Florida and have lived in Dorchester for the past eight years. I’m committed to my community and I like to support local organizations and businesses which is what drew me to DBCo first as a loyal customer and now as my professional home. I look forward to weekend adventures with my family and you can usually find us at Castle Island, hiking in the Blue Hills, or relaxing at one of Dorchester’s parks or beaches. 

How did you get into the craft beer industry and sales?

I have always worked in the service industry and have appreciated craft beer for a long time. About 10 years ago I walked into my local liquor store and ended up helping a customer pick out different beers. The owner overheard and offered me a part-time position that evolved into a full-time role as the beer and spirits buyer. After a while I got to know all of my sales reps and learn about their jobs and knew a role in sales would be really exciting for me. I moved on to sales positions for a few local companies and eventually made the switch to a distributor. When I saw that my neighborhood brewery was looking to bring on a sales rep, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the team. 

A day in the life of Drew!

I start the day early and drop my son off at school here in Dorchester then usually grab a coffee from Reign Drink Lab or home.stead Cafe. When I visit accounts in and around Dorchester, I can make my way to the brewery for meetings and banter then I’m on my way out to visit new and old friends of DBCo! Sometimes I’ll grab a sandwich at The Daily or banh mi at Banh Mi Ba Lė for lunch. Other days I’ll head outside of the city to continue to expand the DBCo footprint or to meet with our distributor, Craft Collective. Every day is different, but the goal is always to strengthen relationships and get our beer into the hands of new fans. 

What do you like best about the industry?

The people and the camaraderie. I really like being able to connect with and learn from new people. 
Favorite part of the job-It has been great to share the story of our brewery and see people enjoy the hard work of our production team. 

Favorite beer style?

It’s impossible to pick just one but I gravitate toward Sours, Saisons, and Pilsners. 

Favorite DBCo beer?

This is like asking me to pick my favorite child!  I love Neponset Gold as my everyday beer, but lately I have been digging Sad Boi Szn, a Brown Ale that we‘ve been pouring at the tap room. 

Favorite M&M BBQ item?

Everything from M&M is amazing, but a favorite is the Honey Hot Chicken Sandwich with dumpster fries. My five year old loves the Dot platter with Mac & Cheese.

By in Meet Our Team Comments Off on Meet the Team: Kimi Nelson, Tap Room Manager

Meet the Team: Kimi Nelson, Tap Room Manager

The face behind the mask! As we continue to serve our customers in the Tap Room, we want to share our stories with you! Our team in the front of the Tap Room are amazing at helping you find the perfect beer (or other drink of choice) and providing the best hospitality to our visitors! We are so lucky to have a great group of employees and we’re excited to share another one with you today. Meet Kimi Nelson, who has been on our team for a while and recently promoted to Tap Room Manager!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I grew up in central MA where I first started working in hospitality. After the brutal 2014-15 winter season, I decided to move to California where I started working in my first brewery. I instantly fell in love with the craft beer industry and the people that surrounded it. If I wasn’t at work, I was out searching for the closest beer festival I could find. After 6 years in California, I decided it was time to come back home to Boston. Now when I’m not at work, you’ll either find me on long treks with my dog, at a concert, or visiting more local breweries. 

How did you get into bartending?

I started bartending in college when I lived in the Fenway area and I loved the atmosphere of serving Red Sox fans on game days. The rush of people from all over kept me moving and on my toes which always added a variety of spice to my day. That’s the best part about bartending – every day is different! As for craft beer, I found an incredible passion in the industry, where I first started in the Bay Area of California – there is definitely no shortage of breweries out there! It’s incredible to see the variety of products Brewers are able to make from the same main four ingredients!

What do you like best about the industry?

The people. Whether it be the folks I work alongside or the guests that walk through the front door, everybody has a different story and a different background. We work in an environment that gives us the opportunity to discover a lot about other people and that has always been the most intriguing part of my job. 

Favorite part of your job?

My coworkers, and the beer! Can’t go wrong with good conversation and delicious libations at your fingertips. 

Favorite beer style?

It’s hard to choose! I’d say my top three are Ambers, Saisons, and Sours.

Favorite DBco beer?

My current favorite is the Winter Brewberry and I’ve loved the previous variations we’ve done of it as well.

Favorite M&M BBQ item?

Can’t go wrong with a Newmarket Sandwich!

By in Meet Our Team Comments Off on Meet the Team: Travis Londen, Brewer

Meet the Team: Travis Londen, Brewer

We’re so proud of the liquids that come out of our Brewery and our amazing brewing team that takes the process from start to finish. Excited to introduce another face on our team who puts his heart and soul into every beer brewed in our Boston brewery!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I grew up in Connecticut, but always dreamed of living in Boston. When I am not working you can find me hiking in the Lynn woods, checking out other area breweries or hanging with my cat Pedey.

How did you get into craft beer and the brewing industry? 

I’ve been brewing beer professionally for 3 years starting at Brewery Legitimus in Connecticut. I moved to Boston for Grad school and kept working in beer and ultimately found a home at DBco after graduating!

What does your day-to-day look like at DBco?

I have been at DBco for 6 months. My day to day ranges a lot depending on the brewing schedule and what’s on deck with our own DBco beers and partners. For the most part, I work on the hot side of the beer production, which is the part of the brew day where I’m making wort. This starts when we’re milling grains and ends when we kill the flame on the kettle. From there, the rest of the team takes over the remainder of the brewing process!

What’s your favorite beer to brew? What about to drink?

I love to brew Belgian style beers and I love to drink lagers and dark beers!

Do you have any advice for brewers just starting out?

You need a willingness to learn and start from the bottom with the goal of working your way – this is essential to really make it in the beer industry Education is important, but experience trumps education. 

What do you like best about the industry?

The collaboration. Everyone is really passionate about the product they make!

Favorite part of your job

Sharing beers with anyone and everyone. 

Favorite beer style

Bier de Garde

Favorite DBco beer

Neponset Gold or Indigo Sunrise

Favorite M&M BBQ item

House Salad with Smoked Chicken or Dumpster Fries

By in Meet Our Team Comments Off on Meet the Team: Chris Geany, QA/QC Manager

Meet the Team: Chris Geany, QA/QC Manager

The DBco brewery team is filled with many different facets of the brewing process from initial recipe development all of the way to packaging. As much as brewing is an art, there is also a lot of science behind it and that’s where Chris comes in! As QA/QC Manager, Chris oversees the quality of the beer we brew everyday through microbiology. Thanks to his expertise and experience, our customers get the benefit of a clean, fresh, delicious-tasting product every time. Learn more about Chris in our blog today:

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I was born and raised on the South Shore. I always had an affinity for the outdoors and moved to Colorado for college chasing snow and mountains. I came back to the East Coast several years later with a taste for craft beer and a Biology degree. You’ll find me most weekends either out in nature somewhere or catching some live music with good company.

How did you get into craft beer and the brewing industry? 

After moving back here I began brewing my own beer at home. I was also working a Quality Control job for consumer products, which didn’t particularly interest me. I found a QC job in the cider world, and spent several years working quality in cider before making the jump to beer. 

How long have you been at DBco and what do you do day to day at DBco

I’ve been with DBco for a few months now. My responsibilities range from microbiology on both fermentations and finished products, to training our operations team to recognize and diagnose potential off flavors. Everything I do here is to ensure the beer we create is consistent from batch to batch, safe and most importantly tastes the best it possibly can be!

What do you like best about the industry? 

A lot of people are drawn to this industry because they want to make something they’re proud of, or they’re just done with corporate work. Either way you wind up with a group of people who genuinely enjoy what they do for work, which is quite rare these days.

Favorite part of your job

One benefit of a contract brewery is you don’t really get stuck in a specialty. We brew everything from Lagers to Hazy IPAs, to Stouts, to Sours. We’re always making something new and there is always something new to learn.

Favorite beer style

If it’s nice out, I’ll go with a Saison. If it’s chilly, it’s Stout season.

Favorite DBco beer

The new and improved Forever OFD as far as year round offerings. 

Favorite M&M BBQ item?

I know it’s called M&M BBQ but don’t sleep on the fried chicken sandwiches!