QuickBooks for Breweries: Good or Bad?

drew's picture

We've talked to literally hundreds of small and large breweries alike in the last few years. About 99% of those breweries said they were running QuickBooks - and for good reason. QuickBooks is easy to use, it's cheap, and the interface is fantastic with all those pretty buttons that inspire a sense of accomplishment when you click them. QuickBooks is by far one of the best off-the-shelf bookkeeping software systems available for small businesses and personal finance.  So it'll work perfect for a brewery too, right? Not so fast.

QuickBooks is perfect if you're a small retail store selling hats and t-shirts or even a “simple” manufacturing business  assembling widgets. The problem is that breweries manufacture items classified under food and beverages, which brings a whole other lot of traceability complications and accountabilty issues. Even QuickBooks Manufacturing is insufficient for what you need to be tracking throughout all the different production processes.

Before you continue down the rabbit hole with QuickBooks, there are some things you should know about bookkeeping software. Here are our top five reasons why QuickBooks is a bad long-term software option for growing craft breweries:

1. Prone to Data Corruption:

Believe it or not, your QuickBooks data is often susceptible and prone to frequent data corruption. If your QuickBooks data file is large or you have multiple users in QuickBooks simultaneously, QuickBooks is not going to be able to keep up with all the read and write requests to your database. The end result is a corrupted file. Not everyone will encounter the unfortunate data corruption scenario, but it's not as rare as you might think.

2. Lack of Granular Tracking

What happens when your SKU count grows exponentially? QuickBooks was not designed for your business if your product has ingredients, packaging, or production processes. OrchestratedBEER traceability means that data is being populated as you go about your daily activities in the system. Read more about traceability for TTB Reporting in our Blog: TTB Reports: How much time are you spending?

 3. Not GAAP compliant

GAAP stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles They are the standards, conventions, and rules that accountants follow in recording, summarizing, and preparing financial statements. It doesn't matter if you have the most trust-worthy employees managing your brewery's books - QuickBooks is susceptible to embezzlement and misrepresentation of financial documents.

It's way too easy to manipulate financials using QuickBooks. For example, anyone with access to your books can issue company checks and delete any record of the transaction. Although QuickBooks has built-in measures to record transaction history to prevent this from happening, these registries can be purged so there's absolutely no paper trail. It's perhaps one of QuickBooks' dirty little secrets (so don't tell anybody). Because OrchestratedBEER's accounting is built on the GAAP-compliant SAP Business One platform, there's no messing around. Everything you do leaves a paper trail, which is a good thing if you ever get audited.

4. Less Desireable for Investors

If you ever plan on selling your brewery in the future, you're going to need back dated financial reports from day 1. Investors probably won't buy a business if there's no financial paper trail for every penny spent. It's almost like buying a used car with no title or previous history - no record, no sale. QuickBooks can keep records but not the granular details that mean the most to the party interested in buying your brewery. 

5. Not Designed for Breweries

A square peg will probably fit in a round hole if you apply enough force. Good luck getting that peg out of there if you need it. In other words, if you have QuickBooks  integrated and daisy chained with multiple systems together with your elaborate spreadsheets, something is going to go wrong. There's this law named Murphy named after all the people that try to do this.  QuickBooks was not designed for batch manufacturing, variance production or anything involving a multi-process bill of materials (BOM).

Save yourself the trouble by starting out with the right accounting and production solution from day one. If you've already been in operation for some time, it's best to migrate to brewery-specific software now before it becomes a time-consuming migration process with all the data you've accumulated over the years.

One Brewery, One Software

OrchestratedBEER is an all-in-one solution designed to replace QuickBooks with its own GAAP-compliant accounting platform at the core. Accounting transactions are automated in the background as brewing processes occur, so there's no dual-entry into multiple systems. Anything else that promises to "integrate" with your current QuickBooks system is just a temporary Band-Aid on a serious problem.

Now, you're probably thinking: "It sounds too good to be true and there's no way I can afford this." With OrchestratedBEER's cloud-based Ondemand product, you can! We now have 16 breweries using OnDemand producing an average between 800-2,500bbls/year. Five breweries signed on with OnDemand before they even started brewing. Why? Because they saw the value of a scalable all-in-one solution built specifically for the craft beer industry.

Next Steps:

Watch the quick accounting demo below or download the deep dive Accounting Demo to learn how OrchestratedBEER is a brewery management software solution that will grow with you throughout the entirety of your business.