The Beer Spot is a New Zealand-based tavern with forty rotating flavours of convenient take-home, beerilicious greatness, as fresh as the day the local brewers put them in the keg. They pride themselves on showcasing the best beer from New Zealand’s 200+ breweries. Whether you are a craft beer connoisseur or just looking for a taster, you can try them onsite at one of their five Beer Spots around Auckland or you can take them away in purged and pressure-filled bottles to enjoy at home. The beer on tap is constantly changing so it’s a perfect place to refine that beer palette. The Beer Spot was keen to make a shift from their standard PET takeaway bottles, to a re-fillable, larger 1L swing-top style glass bottle that they had made custom for their takeaway service. Whilst the PET bottles were lightweight and better for sending orders out, The Beer Spot and its customers were wanting a more sustainable option. Keen to preserve the quality and freshness of their takeaway beer, an amber-coloured glass bottle was the best option. The Beer Spot’s custom-made bottles – the “Roadie” ticked all the boxes however, there wasn’t an off-the-shelf bottle filler that fit the custom glass bottle shape and that allowed for them to be purged and pressurised when filled, so The Beer Spot wanted to create their own.
The Beer Spot approached Blender with a rough prototype of what they wanted. The requirements were simple – it needed to lock the bottle against the seal as the bottles are purged and pressure-filled. It also needed to be retrofitted to all of the 40 taps that they have set up at each of their 5 locations around Auckland. It also needed to be UV resistant for their outdoor beer gardens, and be resistant to the cleaning products that they use in-house.
Blender got straight to the point, and designed two concept options, 3D printed the prototypes, and took them in for testing. Through this testing process, small iterations were made to ensure the final design met all the requirements. We added a feature around the collar of the bottle to allow the bottle to seal and not rock out of position if it was knocked.
Material selection was key in determining the best solution to balance aesthetics, durability, and scalability. Aluminium was first explored and while this option looked quite good when first installed, it was incompatible with the cleaning solution the taps require and it would degrade. Furthermore, aluminium tended to expand and shrink depending on the temperature of the room, impacting functionality. Ultimately, the best material was injection moulded, food-grade PPE blend thermoplastic. It was selected due to its UV and chemical resistance, durability, and strength and being injection moulded, it is easier to scale up.
Blender was also able to help with the small details which made a big difference to The Beer Spot. One small example of this is the sourcing of the small acetal bush/washer that fits into the bottle gripper to allow smooth turning. Everything The Beer Spot had tried didn’t allow for smooth rotation of the tap and deformed easily. Blender was able to understand the issue and find a solution and supply everything together removing the hassle for The Beer Spot.
”“as soon as Blender came on board, they just understood it and everything became easier"
The final bottle gripper is an injection-moulded plastic part that fits onto their existing beer taps. It rotates and holds The Beer Spot’s custom glass bottle in place so they can purge and pressurise before filling with beer. A simple yet effective project which allows The Beer Spot to maintain their excellent standard of beer for their takeaway service. As this was The Beer Spots first design and manufacture project, they wanted to stick to what they do best, that is serving beer and leant on the strengths of the Blender team to utilise our supplier network to source materials and manage the supply chain to deliver a small batch of 500 parts.
The Beer Spot had tried prototyping the solution themselves and worked over a year with an out of town engineer trying to perfect this simple part. Laurence van Dam, owner of The Beer Spot said “as soon as Blender came on board, they just understood it and everything became easier”. Blender was able to apply our specialist knowledge in 3D printing prototypes and material selection to come up with helpful suggestions on design modifications. Laurence felt working with Blender removed all the third party explanations because we just understood what was required and saved him a lot of time researching materials. Blender was also able to help him learn about the processes in product development too. He valued learning about 3D printing and its limitations and benefits for quick prototyping and testing.
The Beer Spot has now released their new bottles at all of their Auckland sites, and their Beer Bottle Gripper is installed on 200 taps to allow happy beer drinking customers to take their favourite craft beers home.