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It takes an army... to bottle 2,000 beers by hand

Nick Trougakos Modified: July 31, 2013 at 2:45 pm •  Published: July 31, 2013

Roughtail Brewing Co.’s newest beer and first bottled offering — Hoptometrist Double IPA — began filtering its way onto liquor store shelves throughout the state yesterday.

That fact in itself is really pretty amazing when you consider that on Sunday morning, the beer was resting in two large tanks at Roughtail’s Midwest City brewery. So how did it get from there to the shelf? Just a simple 10 straight hours of hard manual labor, of course.

I volunteered to help the guys at Roughtail bottle Hoptometrist on Sunday for two main reasons:

1. I thought it would be fun.

2. I was hoping to absorb information about the beer business and how it works.

The result: It was fun, and I did learn stuff I didn’t know. What I didn’t expect was how insanely hard it would be.

Roughtail does not have an automated bottling or canning line yet, so the labeling, cleaning, sanitizing, filling, capping, rinsing, boxing and stacking of roughly 2,100 750 ml bottles was done completely by hand by a small army of Roughtail friends and family working in assembly-line fashion.

Yours truly manned one of the two cappers throughout the day. If you have a bottle of Hoptometrist, I can safely say there’s a 50 percent chance that I capped it. If you’re not happy with your capping job, that clearly was not one that I capped.

Of the roughly 10 to 12 hours of work, I think a safe estimate is that we spent six hours filling (with four hand-held beer guns) and capping bottles. We figured at peak efficiency we were knocking out about 10 bottles per minute. Think about trying to maintain that pace for three or four hours in a row — it was intense!

During breaks in filling/capping we were loading and unloading cases and doing other tasks, so by the end of the day, I was pretty well battered and beaten down. But I would easily say it was worth it. We got to accomplish something pretty cool — helping some good guys/brewers get their first bottle out to market.

So when you grab a bottle of Hoptometrist, you can rest assured a lot of effort went into getting it to you. Here are a few more pictures from bottling day:


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