British Columbians love their beer.
In 2016, the number of craft breweries operating in BC jumped over 25 per cent. Sales also showed healthy growth, especially on the domestic front, with Canadian-brewed beer accounting for over 83 per cent of total sales. While there’s no doubt it’s a crowded marketplace, entrepreneurs still see potential for growth, continuing to open new breweries province-wide in 2017 so far.
Steve Thorp, co-founder of Postmark Brewing and Vancouver Urban Winery, knows more than most about how to successfully launch a craft brewery. We asked him for his tips on how to break into the craft brewing scene.
You’ve got to really understand the type of liquid you’re trying to make – what is your style of beer that you want to make, and really design your brewery around that. I think a lot of times young brewers get their equipment first, then go back to the drawing board to try and see what beer will fit around it. Instead, you’ve got to figure out what the ideal scenario is for your brand, for your liquid, then design your equipment around that.
Talking about equipment, contingency budgets are always needed. Everything takes longer and costs more than you’ll think. Something we see happening with every new brewery that opens is they have overruns on spending and it takes more time than they account for. More time equals more money because you don’t have cash coming in, so be prepared!
Speaking of being prepared, It used to be a lot easier to sell beer out there, but being in a hyper competitive market you really need to get your sales strategy in place, your volume strategy in place, your packaging in place, then go to market strong and make sure that you are consistent there.
For young entrepreneurs I would advise them that whatever they do, make sure your business aligns with your life and your passions, because that passion will drive you on. Find a way to mesh your business and lifestyle together. Don’t get pushed into an industry based on greed or money. Do something that fits your lifestyle, and when you do that, you’d be amazed at how your work and life can come together and you can find balance in between.