A lot of stuff is going on in the Northwest and here at GrowlerWerks. First off, the weather here in Portland has entered the rainy season, so it’s wet, cold, windy... almost perfect for a good winter ale! We've been working hard here to keep our commitment of delivering the uKeg so you can keep your draft beers fresh. There have definitely been a lot of bumps in the road to get there, but now that we're well into production on the uKeg 64 and making good headway on production development of the uKeg 128, things are starting to smooth out. Our focus now is to keep this momentum going, and to deliver an awesome product as quickly as possible.
In addition to the 200 uKegs we’ve already shipped, we now have 500 in our warehouse ready to start being sent out this week. These are still being 100% inspected and re-worked onsite as needed before they ship. There are a few remaining quality issues that are outside of our quality threshold, and we want to make sure that every uKeg we send out looks great and works great right out of the box. On a recent visit to the factory, we realized the way they were doing their quality checks varied from our plan in some key places, and we were able to correct these differences to match requirements. We also hired a full time manufacturing engineer onsite to help ensure quality in the future.
A container of 1638 shipped last week, it's currently crossing the Pacific Ocean, and due to arrive by Dec 12. This shipment ended up pushing 2 weeks behind schedule because of a mistake at the plating supplier for the “gooseneck” tube (the tube that connects the top of the uKeg to the tap). Unfortunately, the plating supplier didn’t match the color close enough to meet our standards, and we had to strip and re-plate over 2000 pieces.
The next container of 1638 is currently scheduled to ship this weekend. The factory is about halfway through this already, and they’re on a pace to be able to make over 200 uKeg 64’s per day.
Unfortunately, this means when accounting for home delivery, only 4,000 units or so will reach backers by Dec 31, with the remainder arriving quickly after Jan 1. We realize these delays put the delivery of rewards for many backers after the Christmas Holiday, which is something we’ve been trying very hard to avoid. We know that this disappointing for you, and disappointing for us too. We do appreciate your continued patience, and to show it we'll be including an extra token of our gratitude with all uKegs that won't make it people before Christmas.
We sent out a survey to the folks who received our first 200 units, to make sure there was a good user experience, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Over 90% of backers said they would recommend the uKeg to a friend, and 89% said it their uKeg kept beer as fresh as the first pint. We also received great feedback on some things we can fine-tune to bring positive experiences up even higher. Thanks to those of you who filled out the survey.
We just received 10 copper-plated samples from the plating company and they look great. We expect to start filling containers with copper units that will be delivered in late December or shortly after the New Year.
As we stated in our last update, we’ll be producing the uKeg 64 through the end of 2015, then switching over to uKeg 128 production in the beginning of January.
Brian will be visiting the factory during the first two weeks of December to approve the new uKeg 128 bottles. The bottle form is completed and the last step is to qualify the neck forming step. Production versions of the sight glass and brass parts have been made, and the caps and the taps are all the same as the uKeg 64.
As some of you GrolwerWerks-ers have noticed, yesterday we heard through the grapevine that a lawsuit was filed against us regarding patent infringement. We haven't been served a complaint, but we understand that a stainless steel growler company has an opinion about the validity of their claims and their IP. We strongly believe the allegations are unfounded. We are reviewing with our legal counsel, and that's all we can say for now. In the meantime, we'll keep focused on working hard to make and ship uKeg pressurized growlers to you!
The GrowlerWerks Team