Brewsters Brewing Company Pours into Alberta Liquor Stores
Brewsters Brewing Company is set to hit Alberta liquor stores this September and I recently had a chance to sit down their Beer Ambassador Marcus Brais. Marcus has worked in the industry for about 18 years, starting in the back of house in his early days. He has since made steady growth in his career working his way up to bartender before landing at Beer Revolution and Brewsters 11th Ave location in Calgary a few years ago. He was then promoted to supervisor before becoming a manager. Those who walk into his establishments were always greeted with a smile and a handshake if he was working.
Marcus sees what most of those in the beer industry see; Alberta’s beer scene is growing and growing fast. With the import of fantastic US beer into our marketplace, Alberta brewers are under pressure to try to stand out. With craft beer’s rise in the province, Brewsters wants to be there and have their beer be an option for the provinces beer drinkers.
In parallel to the new imports from the south, AGLC recently changed some antiquated laws to allow brew pubs to sell their beer in retail liquor stores in Alberta and removed
minimum production limits for breweries and distilleries. That sparked a conversation that lead to Marcus helping Brewsters to make the transition into retail. Brewsters Brewing Company started in Saskatchewan in the mid 80’s and made its debut in Alberta in 1989 with the flagship location on 11th Ave SW in Calgary. At the time it was a brewpub; when I first came out to Alberta in the mid 90’s, I remember my first beer there. It has changed a lot since then, no more brewing on site; however Beer Revolution (owned by Brewsters) has taken over the brewery space and has a lot of great rotating taps. Other than the few house brands, nothing is tapped twice in a row at Beer Rev as it’s commonly referred by those that love it.
Until now Brewsters bottled beer was only available in their 12 restaurants and brewpubs throughout Alberta. The bottles are sold individually or in a mix of any four bottles of your choice. The bottling system was a hands-on affair, loading four bottles in by hand to be machine filled before unloading, labeling and packing by hand. With the launch into liquor stores it was best if the bottles were in traditional 6 packs of 355ml bottles. This is where the new bottling line comes in. Once this line is fully setup and commissioned beer will be hitting the shelves of liquor stores in Alberta this September. This will also mean a new branding for the Alberta legend. They are looking for something fresh to accompany the new six packs to the stores.
The beer that will find it’s way into six packs in Brewsters Brewing Company locations and liquor stores will be:
While the following beer will remain in 500ml bottles and available at Brewsters Brewing Company locations only:
All beer on tap will still be available in growlers. You can bring in a clean growler for a refill or buy a new growler full of great beer. Look out for growler specials on Saturday, $3 off!
Brewsters is planning to slowly test the retail waters by getting into only one retail liquor store, but it is one of the biggest here in Calgary – Willow Park Wine & Spirits. Brewsters has also decided to self-distribute their product to have better control and a much higher level of customer service for those who order their product.
At present, Bresters has a brewing capacity of 8000 Hectoliters annually. With their sights set on the retail market they will be squeezing three new fermentations tanks into the brewery that will increase production by 6000 HL per year bringing totally production capability up to 14,000HL. Preliminary planning has begun on an expansion of the brewery – just talks at this point to see about permitting and dealing with the city but if the liquor store launch is successful, Brewsters plans on being able to hit 25,000 Hectoliters in the not so distant future.