Taking the Fuss out of Fizz: A story of innovation
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Guy Tipton and Cyril Meagher share a love of beer and innovation. Founders of BrewWizz, these self-professed “fizz geeks” develop innovative products that are improving the craft brewing process.
It all started five years ago when Tipton made a keen observation while at a brewery. “Beer was spilling on the floor when it should be going in bottles, and that’s just very frustrating for everybody. I mean, you don’t want to waste beer,” laughs Tipton.
The outcome of that observation was the idea of automating the carbonation process, ultimately helping brewers be more productive and profitable. An experienced technology developer, Tipton knew it could be economically disastrous for breweries to continuously lose product due to spillage from the carbonation process.
Already working for Meagher’s company, Allendale Electronics in Lockeport, Tipton pitched the idea of manufacturing an automated carbonation system with the working title of “FIZZWIZZ.”
Meagher was more than game. “That had been my objective for a long time – trying to find something of our own we could build here,” says Meagher.
“And that’s really when the fun started,” says Tipton.
Guy Tipton and Cyril Meagher, founders of BrewWizz, standing with their creation, the FIZZWIZZ
How It Works
What, exactly, does the FIZZWIZZ do?
“It gives brewers a repeatable product that saves them money, time, and CO2,” says Meagher.
By automating what is usually a very delicate, hands-on process: carbonation.
Typically, during the carbonation process, someone consistently checks the tank to ensure the carbonation levels are correct. Oftentimes this involves making special trips to monitor the tanks throughout the night to ensure that when the packaging crew arrives in the morning, everything is ready to go and there aren’t any delays.
The FIZZWIZZ streamlines the carbonation process, removing the need for manual intervention.
“If you have something that's going to do it automatically, then when the brewers show up in the morning, they're ready to package and you don't have downtime waiting for something to happen,” says Meagher.
It also ensures the CO2 levels are optimized for bottling, reducing CO2 waste as well as spillage. One experiment conducted with Tusket Falls Brewing Company illustrated that brewers were saving roughly 30% CO2 usage and approximately $1,000 worth of product per batch.
“They’re cutting their spillage and they’re getting efficiency up, which is not only great because I love beer, but it’s also a cost saving,” says Tipton.
And customers all over the world are loving it – from brewers here at home in Nova Scotia to brewers in the US, UK, Japan and Australia.
Tipton says the development process for the FIZZWIZZ was unlike any other product he had worked on throughout his career. The key differentiator? Being surrounded by experienced manufacturers rather than developing solo.
“I’d always been in the situation where I was a developer and then other people built our electronics,” says Tipton. “As an electronics engineer kind of guru type, I wanted to use the fanciest, smallest components, and it was awesome to have the people at Allendale saying, ‘Why would you do that? I wouldn’t put that component there.’”
The Bubbles Anywhere edition of the FIZZWIZZ
This efficient, collaborative development period allowed BrewWizz to get to market quickly in 2016, selling to local Nova Scotia brewers such as Boxing Rock and Garrison Brewing, as well as Upstreet Brewing in Prince Edward Island.
Throughout this early period, Meagher and Tipton spent a lot of time with customers troubleshooting installs. They say feedback from local brewers is a significant contributing factor to the success of FIZZWIZZ and BrewWizz as a whole.
“The local craft brewers in Nova Scotia, they’ve just been amazing. They’ve been so supportive, so collaborative,” says Tipton. “All these issues of getting the FIZZWIZZ installed in all these breweries in Nova Scotia helped us then figure out the main way to install the product, and now we have a self-installed product, which is phenomenal.”
“The ability to go into breweries allowed us to see what we needed as a kit to sell with it, so now we can ship it anywhere around the world and it has everything the brewers need,” says Meagher.
“We can ship it to Australia and not be stressed that they’re not going to be able to install it.”
The information they gathered through working with local brewers also helped BrewWizz identify other opportunities for product development such as thermowells and adaptors, carbonation stones, temperature sensors and more.
When it comes to growing their customer base, Tipton and Meagher say word of mouth from satisfied brewers has played a big role in their expansion. They also credit initiatives like Nova Scotia Business Inc.’s Export Growth Program, which they have used to attend trade shows around the world.
“Every time we go to one of these conferences, we come back with anywhere from 50 to more than 100 good leads,” says Meagher.
Cyril Meagher at the Ontario Craft Brewers Conference
One lead that came out of a trade show visit in Nuremberg last year resulted in a partnership with Wild Goose Filling, which is now distributing the FIZZWIZZ worldwide.
While in-person conferences are no longer in their immediate future, BrewWizz still intends to continue to expand further in the US and European markets. They recently took part in NSBI’s “Up to Speed” series focusing on digital marketing to help them build their online audience and drive sales through their online store.
But as they’re planning their overseas expansion, BrewWizz says they’ll be forever grateful for the support of their early adopters. As a thank you, Tipton and Meagher recently gifted their 500th FIZZWIZZ unit to Garrison Brewery, who had purchased four units right off the bat when they went to market four years ago.
“They were really instrumental in getting us going,” says Meagher. “We wanted to show our appreciation.”
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