There’s no need to rally the troops for happy hour at these cutting-edge companies, which reward employees with free beer on-site and a relaxed attitude toward drinking during work hours. From taps to high-tech kegerators and vending machines, these companies have raised the bar in employee perks.
By Amy Chen
Beer flows freely at Kanjoya, a 30-person tech startup with a kegerator dubbed “Beerbo Keggins” after “The Hobbit.” The open tap has a selection that rotates every few weeks, with offerings such as a pony keg of Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin, Kona Pipeline Porter or Gordon Biersch Märzen. Depending on what’s on tap, it’s not uncommon to pair a beer with the company’s weekly catered lunch, though most of the drinking tends to happen later in the day with glasses in hand—only real glassware, of course. “We have many beer enthusiasts (people that literally fly across the country going to various beer fests), so they will accept no substitutes,” says Armen Berjikly, Kanjoya’s founder and CEO.
A newly installed CO2 tap pops out next to the whiteboard at Green Door Mediaworks communications firm, offering a different craft beer every month to the company’s three employees and handful of contractors. After 3 p.m., the team may also reach for a bottle of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Dortmunder Gold pale lager or a can of Oskar Blues’ Deviant Dale’s IPA. A large outdoor deck extends from the open-layout office, “so when it’s closer to quitting time and the weather’s nice, we’ll make the move,” says Chad Whaley, the company’s media specialist who also helps keep the fridge fully stocked.
By late afternoon on Thursdays and Fridays, the eight-person team at HERO|farm marketing agency often helps themselves to a beer from the two kitchen fridges. “Afternoon brainstorming sessions are usually improved with a few hops,” says creative director Shaun Walker. “It’s also important on Friday afternoons to connect as real people after we’ve been working like machines all week.” The on-site “Timeout” happy hour might include Bundaberg, Tooheys, Blue Moon, Tin Roof, Covington or Smithwick’s; favorites are diligently recorded in a beer journal they developed to track origins and profiles. Employees also like to mix things up with Daiquiri Mondays and Wednesdays.
Who needs a bartender when you have Arnie, a vending-machine robot at Arnold Worldwide’s headquarters that dispenses bottles of homebrewed Scottish Ale or Oatmeal Stout? After an employee swipes his or her key fob, Arnie will greet that drinker by name. If Arnie detects a lot of activity, he’ll even tweet from @ArnieBeer with messages like: “Five people in the last half hour. I feel a party coming on.” or “Just one person wanted a beer in the last half hour. I am a lonely robot. Come to Arnie.” Due to Arnie’s popularity, however, the company’s 540-plus eligible employees receive 3-4 beer points per month, with each bottle “costing” 1 point.
SAN FRANCISCO, NEW YORK CITY, SCOTTSDALE & LONDON
About 1,200 employees at four Yelp offices can enjoy a stout or IPA after 5 p.m. local time, thanks to a specially developed iPad app hooked up to a keg of Dogfish Head’s 90-Minute IPA, Ninkasi’s Believer Double Red Ale, or seasonal beers like Samichlaus Doppelbock. After a Yelp employee scans his or her ID card, the KegMate displays how much beer was poured. Employees can then rate the brews from one to five stars. The “Liter-board” tracks who has consumed the most over the last week. Don’t want to publicize your thirst? You can still pour a glass without scanning the ID card, but really, where’s the fun in that?