Author: Gerad Coles

Gerad took to the art of brewing beer very quickly sometime around late 2012 and has brewed many thousands of liters of beer since, striving to outdo himself with every batch. Gerad is a geek who loves to work with his hands just as much as he likes to work on a computer, and is as comfortable with a table saw or chisel as he is programming in Python on a Linux machine.Gerad is the Brewmaster for Prairie Dog Brewing, where he is in charge of developing new recipes and improving upon old ones, piloting new brewing processes and ensuring that quality standards are being met, and managing the fermentation/cellaring of our beer, ensuring it meets quality expectations for appearance, aroma and flavour.

Status update mid October 2016

We have not posted a status update since August, which may make it look like not a lot has been going on, but the reality is that we’ve been quite busy and haven’t found time to put everything into a blog post. I’ll do my best to try to cover all of the milestones that have happened since the prior status update.

Late August: Tyler and Sarah Arrive

Sarah and Tyler go up the hill after fetching many carboys of water.

Sarah and Tyler hauling filtered water from our neighbor’s house up the driveway. Our house has a water softener that wrecks the water for brewing.

In late August our co-founders Tyler Potter and Sarah Goertzen arrived in Calgary, permanently. The two were living down in California up until July and had then taken a long cross-Canada road trip over the summer before arriving in Calgary. Their arrival allowed us to move forward with many more things in parallel, start into serious lease negotiations and legal work, and to do much more homebrewing and recipe development.

Late August: Found a Promising Leasehold

A rendering of a potential facade for the Prairie Dog brewpub.

A rendering of a potential facade for the Prairie Dog brewpub.

In late August we found a leasehold that we think really matches our vision, located in South Calgary near the Calgary Farmer’s Market. We are currently in negotiations for this space and really hope everything works out there for a possession date in January 2017. We are currently working on designs for the interior and exterior of the space.

Late August: Visited Revelstoke

View of a cloudy meadow on Mt. Revelstoke

View of a cloudy meadow on Mt. Revelstoke

At the end of August, all four of us went to Revelstoke for a few days to decompress and to take a tour of Mt. Begbie Brewing, where Tyler’s cousin works. We really enjoyed the brewery tour (and their beer), and partook in some of the other local attractions such as hiking on Mt. Revelstoke and the Pipe Mountain Coaster, and camped while we were there.

Early September: Attended First Yeast Wranglers Meeting

As long as we’ve been planning to move back to Calgary, we’ve been stoked about becoming involved in the Cowtown Yeast Wranglers, Calgary’s largest homebrew club. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an opportunity to attend any of the club’s meetings in the first part of the year before their summer hiatus, so September was the first meeting we could be a part of. The September meeting included judging of a plethora of homebrewed beers made with Red Shed malts. Red Shed had sponsored the competition by donating the malts and helped judge the beers. I was really happy with the level of creativity that the homebrewers showed and the quality of most of the beers. We are delighted to report that homebrewing is definitely strong in Calgary.

Early September: Visited Half Hitch Brewing

Half Hitch Brewing is a taproom/packaging brewery located out in Cochrane and is one of the latest additions to the Calgary-area brewing scene. We were invited out to the brewery by David Neilly, a retired brewer from Wild Rose and founder of the Yeast Wranglers, who is helping the family at Half Hitch with their brewing. We had a really awesome brewery tour with David and talked at length with Chris Heier, Half Hitch’s President, about their experiences so far in the business. It was a really great time and we would strongly recommend you take a trip out there to take a visit.

Mid September: Visited Hobo Malt/Bear and the Flower Farm

Hobo Malt was founded recently by Christopher Fasoli, just East of Irricana, Alberta. Chris has a classic homebrewer attitude, building a lot of his own malting equipment from scratch, and is willing to experiment with small-batch (<1 ton) malting processes to produce unique malts that can only be found here in Alberta. We really liked what we saw and are excited to work with Chris in the future.

At the same time as starting a malting business, Chris and his wife, Jessica, also started a pig farm, which they call The Bear and the Flower. This is not your typical pig farm – pigs are pastured, pampered, and fed a healthy diet of non-GMO, antibiotic-free feed. You can already find Bear and the Flower pigs at several Calgary establishments, and we hope to add Prairie Dog to that list after we open our doors in 2017.

Mid September: First Off-Flavour Tasting Event

Off-flavor tasting night

Discussion at the first Prairie Dog Off-Flavour Tasting Night.

If you’ve been following the blog, you probably already know about our first Off-Flavour Tasting Event, where we brought together a collection of homebrewers and beer enthusiasts and made them drink some really awful beer, for science. The event was a great success and we plan on holding another one sometime in the near future. Please read the blog post linked above and send us a private-message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram if you are interested in attending one of these in the future.

Late September: Alberta Beer Week and Calgary Oktoberfest

Every September, Alberta Beer Festivals celebrates Alberta Beer Week. The week coincides with Oktoberfest celebrations all over the Northern hemisphere, which celebrate the harvest and availability of beer. As part of the celebrations, Alberta Beer Festivals held a fairly large Oktoberfest at the Stampede grounds. Tyler and I went to the festival on both Friday and Saturday while the girls were out of town. We were pleased to find most of the Alberta breweries present and serving a variety of traditional and non-traditional beer and one-off casks, and the festival had a variety of food offerings as well as food trucks outside. While at the festival we ran into Graham Sherman, a co-founder of Toolshed Brewing. Graham was really friendly and encouraging, and so we set up a meeting with him for the following week to check out the brewery.

Late September: Toured Toolshed Brewing

We met with Graham on a frosty morning for a tour of Toolshed Brewing while they were closed and things were a little quieter. Graham took quite a bit of time out of his day to take us through his entire operation, showing off the new canning line and answering our questions about equipment, ingredients, and methods. What was most impressive was Graham’s willingness to share information about the business side of starting and running Toolshed; he gave us ideas about ways to allow people to invest in our brewery that we hadn’t thought of before, we really appreciate his openness. Since our tour, Tyler has helped Toolshed can beer on a voluntary basis, as well.

Late September: Completed First Draft of Business Plan

Businessing… #prairiedogbrewing #yycstartup #brewpubcomingsoon

A photo posted by Prairie Dog Brewing (@prairiedogbeer) on

So, it may sound silly, but up until the end of September, we didn’t have a completed business plan to show to anybody. We took a bottom-up approach to the financials, which required about eight months to put together and revise to a point that we were confident in them. Further, much of the business plan is dependent on the location we are looking at, so we couldn’t finish it off until we had settled on something. After loads of late nights, we are happy to say that we completed the first draft of our business plan, at over 125 pages long. We are now revising some aspects of the financials based on feedback from lenders.

Late September: Annex Ales Root Beer Launch

#prairiedogbrewing and @iamjeuro hanging out enjoying @annexales rootbeer launch @bandedpeak_brewing

A photo posted by Prairie Dog Brewing (@prairiedogbeer) on

Annex Ales is an up-and-coming Calgary brewing company founded by Andrew Bullied, formerly of Village Brewing. Andrew is still building his brewery space but has been working with the guys over at Banded Peak to brew pilot batches, and has already launched his own craft soda brand, Annex Soda Mfg. Annex held the launch party for its first soda, a craft root beer, at the Banded Peak taproom on September 29, 2016, and we were there to take part in it. The root beer was really great, and it should be — Andrew said it took him something like 35 test batches to arrive at the current revision. We hope that Annex keeps making the root beer after they have their brewery and liquor production permit because we’d love to carry it on tap at Prairie Dog as a non-alcoholic option. Of course, while at Banded Peak, we also needed to partake in some of their excellent beer, too.

Early October: OnBeer.Org Article about Prairie Dog Brewing

On October 3rd, @abbeerguy Jason Foster published an article about us on his website based on an interview he conducted with me sometime in late August. The article did a good job of explaining our ideology and plans, and we really appreciate Jason putting the time into promoting and educating the public about Alberta beer. If you are interested in Alberta beer, please follow Jason’s website or subscribe to him on twitter.

Early October: Went to Denver and Attended GABF

The Great American Beer Festival may be the largest beer festival in the world. With thousands of beers and hundreds of breweries exhibiting their creations, and tens of thousands of attendees, the pulse of craft beer can definitely be felt at GABF. Prairie Dog’s founders all traveled to Denver to attend the GABF this year, as well as to partake in many of the local Denver-area breweries. We also paid a special visit to New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins and Avery Brewing in Boulder. The trip was a huge success; we tasted hundreds of beers, visited sixteen breweries and several tap houses, and of course attended the GABF. Stay tuned to the blog for a larger description of the Denver trip in the future.

Mid October: Set up Calgary BABES

As part of our plan to work with the community and ensure that women are included in the craft beer movement, Laura has founded a Calgary chapter of the Barley’s Angels, a women’s group devoted to craft beer education and appreciation. The chapter name is the Barley’s Angels Beer Education Society of Calgary, or Calgary BABES, for short. The chapter will host events at various local breweries where women can learn about the various styles of craft beer and the offerings of local craft brewers, as well as how beer is made, beer off-flavours, and a lot more. Laura is currently building a facebook page for the group, and expect to see more here on the Prairie Dog website in the future. Please contact Laura at babes@prairiedogbrewing.ca if you are interested in joining the group.

Okay, that’s about all of the status updates I can think of right now, although I’m sure I missed one or two things along the way. All of us at Prairie Dog hope you enjoyed this post and look forward to any feedback you have. Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for more real-time updates about what is going on with Prairie Dog and its founders, or craft beer in general.

Quality Management is Our Responsibility

Beer flight at Russian River Brewing in California, a brewery known for its attention to detail and quality management.

We at Prairie Dog are incredibly passionate about Alberta beer and consider ourselves fortunate to reside in the province that grows the world’s best barley and wheat, which it supplies to some of the biggest names in craft beer. In the current atmosphere of incredible craft beer growth, it can sometimes feel like we are perfect. Our beers are great, the people we meet are so positive and awesome, and the industry is a joy to be a part of. However, we worry that this era of bliss can lead to complacency and a false sense of security among brewers and brewery owners. This article is the first in a series devoted to Quality Management, our first defense against complacency and an often-overlooked topic at fledgling breweries, who often struggle just to keep up with demand.

Only five years ago the Alberta craft beer market was sparse, with maybe ten or fifteen breweries dispersed throughout the entire province. Today we are at closer to forty, and that sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t anywhere near the density found in places like Colorado or Oregon, which each have hundreds of breweries (see this map of Denver). There is a lot to be said for (friendly) competition — it tends to drive up quality and consistency over time. Mature, competitive markets produce some of the most highly-rated, innovative craft beer today, and the reason for that is probably that the brewers there have to work hard to stay relevant in their crowded markets, producing consistent, defect-free beer. Quality Management could mean the difference between long-term success and failure of these breweries.

We already have several great Alberta breweries that can compete against those breweries on quality, like Troubled Monk, who won silver at the 2016 World Beer Cup in Philadelphia for their brown ale against 80 other breweries worldwide. Products like this will help push the entire Alberta beer industry forward and elevate the expectations of consumers. However, if we really want Alberta to become known as a world craft beer destination, we all need to do our part by working with each other and putting our egos aside, comparing our beers, seeking out people who have well-developed palettes for constructive criticism, and continually striving to improve quality, even when it already looks excellent.

Quality Priority Pyramid - Brewers Association. This pyramid shows that before a brewery can focus on things like shelf-life or preventative maintenance, it must first focus on good management practices (GMPs), hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), developing standards, etc. Each step in the pyramid relies on the one underneath.

Quality Priority Pyramid from the Brewers Association. Before a brewery works on things like improving shelf life, it must first focus on good manufacturing practices (GMPs), hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), developing standards, etc. Each step in the pyramid relies on the one underneath.

To this end, we brewers need to implement and stand by Quality Management standards and procedures based on industry best practices. The Brewers Association has great information and books about how to do this for breweries of various sizes. Quality Management programs cover everything from what ingredients are purchased to how a beer is brewed, fermented, stored, and served. Quality Management is something that no brewery does perfectly and should be continually improved over time. Even though we are far from opening our doors, our Director of Quality and member of the American Society of Brewing Chemists, Sarah Goertzen, is already hard at work studying industry best practices and building a set of procedures and standards for Prairie Dog. Part of this process is learning how other breweries approach QM and evaluating our processes against those of existing breweries that we admire.

As a big part of Quality Management, we need to invest in qualitative analysis for our beers. This doesn’t need to be a costly affair, but it does require some effort. Here at Prairie Dog, we are working to build a tasting panel consisting of friends, family, CiceronesBJCP judges, and future staff, all of whom have been exposed to a lot of varieties of beer and participate in off-flavour tastings to learn to identify faults like DMS, diacetyl, acetaldehyde, infection, and staling/oxidation in beer. In the future, our tasting panel members will be invited to try new beers before we make them public, providing their impressions of any off-flavours that are noticed. We will conduct triangle tests with our panel on different batches of the same beer to measure and ensure consistency between brews. Most breweries are already giving away a lot of beer to friends and family in some way, so why not make them feel empowered by educating them and involving them in determining the direction of our beer? Everyone has blind spots in their palette and should assume that they can’t taste some of the things in their beer that others can, especially us brewers, who may be blinded by love for our craft.

For quantitative analysis, several laboratories will test beer for various off-flavours that result from process issues or infection, for a nominal fee. It may be costly to lab-test beer on a frequent basis, but it is definitely a good idea to do it periodically to ensure that changes in equipment, ingredients or procedures haven’t negatively impacted the finished product in a way that was missed by the brewers or tasting panels. Some of the lab instruments required for QM are not expensive, like microscopes, plates, dyes, balloons and test tubes, and the American Society of Brewing Chemists has come up with novel ways of testing various characteristics without the use of costly instruments.

Finally, we can never consider a recipe “finished”. Our recipes have to evolve over time with access to ingredients, and our brewing processes will evolve to maintain pace with industry learnings and best practices. As brewers, we need to stay in touch with the rest of the industry about what is going on, first by working with others locally, then by leaving our bubble and attending conferences like the Great Canadian Beer Festival, Craft Brewers Conference or Great American Beer Festival (GABF), where industry leaders give talks and share information, and beer from a variety of areas is available to taste and compare with our own.

GABF is this week, October 6-8, in Denver, Colorado. All of the founders of Prairie Dog Brewing will be attending the conference and touring breweries like New Belgium, Avery and Funkwerks, helping us maintain our connection to the craft beer movement as a whole. Mature and well established craft beer markets play host to craft breweries that have stood the test of time and risen to a level of quality production that we wish to emulate.

A lack of Quality Management at any local craft brewery can leave a bad taste in customers’ mouths and hurts the reputation of our industry. We all have a responsibility to ourselves, our customers and our peers to ensure that Alberta beer quality is just as high as you would find in Denver, Portland, Vancouver or Vermont.

We are interested in knowing what you think of Quality Management in Alberta breweries. Is there something we missed? Have a question or a comment about this article?  Comment below or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and let us know what you think.

Status update early August 2016

Prairie Dog Level at the Palliser One parking garage in Calgary, AB.

Prairie Dog Level at the Palliser One parking garage in Calgary, AB.

TL;DR: Not all founders are full-time in Calgary yet, but we met up recently to finalize plans, visited with other brewers and got a good a feel for Calgary craft beer. We’ve been looking at properties and are getting serious about a couple of them, but nothing picked yet. Finalizing business plan and making a lot of beer to develop recipes, can use feedback. Anticipating opening no earlier than July 2017.

Starting a new business is a complicated affair. Being a producer of alcohol, a brewery may be one of the most regulated businesses you can start up, even more so when you add food production to the mix. There is a lot for us to do and a lot of things have to go on in the background before many of the sexy, customer facing announcements can be made. However, there have been a few interesting developments of the past few months that we can talk about.

The Three Ranges Brewing Company are a small-town company making full-flavoured beer in Valemount, BC.

3RBC are a small-town company making full-flavoured beer in Valemount, BC.

In late May Laura and I went up to Valemount, BC to work at Three Ranges Brewing Company (3RBC), which was founded by our cousins Michael Lewis and Rundi Anderson. We spent about nine days in Valemount, and I spent most of my time at the brewery helping Michael and his assistant brewer Clayton in all capacities. While there I prepped and filled a lot of Sanke kegs, learned to use industrial chemicals like caustic and peracetic acid to clean out tanks post-fermentation, harvested and reused yeast, mixed a honey addition for a batch, and of course brewed a lot of beer. Laura and I also spent time learning more of the back-office side of things, getting familiarized with software and accounting, ingredient purchasing, and filing for excise tax and provincial markups. I also learned about tap maintenance and even made a delivery to a local customer. It was a lot of twelve to sixteen hour days that felt like three weeks of work condensed into one, but we had a blast and were able to learn a lot of things that you just can’t do at home as homebrewers. A huge thank-you goes out to Michael for letting us monopolize his time for the week and for taking so much of his limited personal time to go over our financials and assumptions with us.

Shortly after this time we began an engagement with First Key Consulting out of Vancouver, who are providing us with feedback and advice for our business plan. We learned about First Key on recommendation from another startup brewery owner we had met in Valemount, Bjorn Butow, who is founding CrossRoads Brewery in Prince George, BC. FYI – CrossRoads are currently looking for a qualified head brewer and brewery manager, spread the word if you know someone.

In early July our partners Tyler and Sarah relocated their belongings to Calgary, leaving the San Francisco Bay area behind. At the same time, our Executive Chef flew to Calgary so that we could all be together and get on an even footing, finalizing many of the details about our business plan and familiarizing everyone with the local Calgary scene. The Calgary Stampede was going on at this time, adding to the sense of what Calgary is all about.

During our “business summit”, we visited several local businesses and breweries. At Trolley 5, another brewpub that opened only a couple of weeks prior to the Stampede, we were lucky enough to bump into Ernie Tsu, one of the owners and a veteran of the Calgary scene. Ernie gave us a private tour and had a lot of great advice for us — we were thrilled that he was so eager to share information and give us pointers, and we are certain that he will be a good friend of the brewery moving forward. And he took the time to do this during the first Saturday night of Stampede!

Later on the same night we visited Last Best, and quickly made a connection with Phil Brian, their Director of Operations and brewmaster. Phil shared samples of his latest Berlinerweisse from a brite tank and ended up chatting with us over pints of his other excellent beers for over three hours! We had been looking at leasing space nearby and asked Phil what he thought about having another brewpub within spitting distance of his own — his answer, “Wonderful!”. Phil believes that the more breweries we have in Calgary the more we all benefit, and having breweries clustered together makes it a lower-risk proposition for someone to go to the effort of commuting down to the Beltline and spending an evening there, since there would be more options if their first target was packed or closed for a private event, making the area more of a brewery destination. We really like the Beltline area and are currently in talks with a landlord there about a space, but there are significant financial and logistical barriers to entry here, so we are also considering other options.

Also during the same week we made pilgrimages to BrewstersWild Rose and Dandy. We would have loved to visit many other breweries as a group but unfortunately ran out of time. Tyler and Sarah left after our summit to begin a six week cross-Canada road trip, something they had to do before starting full time on the brewery, knowing that it could be a long time before any of us get the time to be away for more than a few days at a time. We expect Tyler and Sarah to return to Calgary in early September, and will be out and involved in the scene much more after they return.

One thing we can’t forget to mention is our visit to Red Shed Malting near Red Deer, Alberta. We have always planned on using ingredients from locally-owned businesses, and Red Shed fits the bill perfectly. We met up with brothers Matt and Joe Hamill, who have set up a small but relatively sophisticated malting facility on their family farm. Matt and Joe are homebrewers turned businessmen, and are no slouches when it comes to malting. The two use barley from their own family farm and surrounding fields to produce both a base malt (pale 2-row), which forms the majority of backbone in a beer, and more complex roasted varieties that can give beer caramel, raisin, plumb, chocolate and coffee flavors and aromas. We toured their facility and picked up some of everything so that we could get a feel for the different malts and develop recipes that exemplify the terroir of their local barley. Since the visit we used their malts to brew up a batch of Southern English brown ale, specifically chosen because it is a malt-forward beer that highlights the qualities of the malts being used, and is easy to drink at about 4.5% ABV. The beer came out quite delicious and I can find very few faults with this first recipe, which I developed specifically for the malts available, which begins with a delicious nuttiness and finishes with coffee and toffee dominating and leaving an aftertaste that begs you to drink another. The beer is deliberately dry for a brown, without a lot of residual sugar or cloying aftertaste, which I prefer in my beers in general. Definitely expect to see this beer brewed again and more Red Shed malt used in Prairie Dog’s future!

Beautiful day at Red Shed Malting

A beautiful day out at Red Shed Malting near Red Deer, AB.

As we mentioned earlier, we have been looking around a space for lease for quite a while, all the way back to April or May. We have visited many locations and found more than one with good potential to be a brewpub. Every space has benefits and drawbacks either based on the space itself, the location, the mentality of the landlord, or cost. At this point we haven’t committed to any single location, but have engaged with a couple of landlords to begin more serious negotiations, one in the Beltline and the other in South Calgary near the Calgary Farmer’s Market. The location we choose will have a tremendous impact on the details of our business plan; a location downtown would have a very different set of demographics, operating hours and costs than a location in a business park, so our plan will not really be finished until we have settled on one location.

Once we sign a lease for a location, the rubber will finally meet the road on this project. From the moment we have a location picked out we can begin working with designers, architects and engineers to design the space and decide on any necessary building modifications. All of these modifications and a full sets of drawings must be submitted to the landlord for approval, then to the city for permitting and approval of the land use. A condition of our lease will be obtaining city approval for our land use and building permits from the city, which may take two to four months, after which we could physically gain access to the space and begin work such as demolition, adding floor drains and sloping floors, bringing in a boiler and building the boiler room to contain it, upgrading electrical service, HVAC, fire suppression systems, sewage, and water, as necessary, and at some point, ordering and obtaining our brewhouse, fermenters, and serving tanks. After this we need to build the restaurant and kitchen, update building facades, get inspections from the fire department, health department, and building inspectors, as well as putting in our applications with the AGLC and Federal Government to be allowed to produce and sell beer. After the brewhouse arrives, we have a ton of setup to do with the manufacturer, and plumbing in of various systems such as steam, water, and glycol. At least one chiller system will need to be installed on the roof of our building, as well. Then we have to think about staffing and start sourcing ingredients, building out menus and brewing calibration/test batches.

As should be abundantly clear by now, this is a massive project and it will take a long time to get to a point where we are actually producing beer and opening our doors to the public. We anticipate it taking until at least July of 2017 before our doors open based on our current situation. In the mean time, we are doing our best to get out there and meet other local business owners and as many brewers as possible, and we will be working to meet with more of the local homebrewers through the Yeast Wranglers club and other efforts.

Glycol chiller got a facelift and now will cool two fermenters at once. Also all protected behind a GFCI.

A photo posted by Gerad Coles (@geradprairie) on

We are brewing a lot of beer at home right now, iterating on recipes as much as possible so that we have a large set of well-developed and proven recipes to draw upon at opening. We recently increased our homebrewing capacity from 10 to 15 gallons per batch as well as adding a second fermenter, allowing us to now produce about three times more beer than before. If you are interested in learning more about the process of brewing beer, shoot me an email at the same address and we can arrange for you to work with us for a day while we brew beer.

We are also very excited because we have tickets to the sold-out Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, Colorado in October, where we hope to learn more about what others are doing in the industry around North America and taste many fine examples of beers made from high-quality local ingredients by passionate brewers, just like ours.

Local Business Builds Community

A community of drinkers cheers with their glassesPrairie Dog Brewing’s founders are passionate about community and having a positive impact on it. We believe that a locally-owned business that spends its revenues on other locally-owned businesses creates a positive feedback loop, allowing the local economy to grow and support more jobs while retaining more money; the ultimate in long-term sustainability.

Consider vibrant, cosmopolitan cities like San Francisco. There you find a thriving local economy where consumers turn their noses at chain restaurants and stores and flock to small, independent local businesses. Conversely, dull, unmemorable places where the economy is flat or declining are often full of chain stores and restaurants. That is no coincidence. Businesses are focal points for local currency, and if a business employs a lot of people or spends a lot of currency on other local businesses, the impact of that currency on the local economy is multiplied because it gets a second chance to be spent at another local business, and so on. However, when businesses divert currency out of the local economy, the spending potential for that currency is lost and the local economy can sustain fewer jobs. Unfortunately during hard times people are pressured into buying from non-local businesses to try to stretch their dollars further, but in the long-term this only takes away market share from other local business and puts more local people out of work who then have to stretch their dollars further, forming a vicious cycle.

Unfortunately, the Canadian brewing industry has long been dominated by large, foreign-owned corporations that focus on keeping costs low and prices high, employing a fraction of the staff per unit of beer produced compared to small craft breweries. Further, macro-breweries use their clout to force down the costs of ingredients like wheat and barley, putting pressure on Canadian farmers that are already struggling to make a living. This leads to higher suicide rates among farmers and farm closures, and the purchase of farmlands by foreign-owned conglomerates that in turn use sophisticated mechanization to employ fewer people, and rely on pesticides and GMO crops to produce more pounds of food per parcel of land than would be possible with conventional agriculture. As a result there are fewer jobs and less money in the local economy (doubly so, because not only do the farmers lose their livelihoods but the farming profits are sent overseas to foreign shareholders), as well as increased pollution in the form of pesticide runoff and a loss of genetic diversity in our food chain.

We vow to do our part in stopping the vicious cycle by paying our employees fair wages and supporting locally-owned businesses like coffee roasters, bakeries, and small-scale farmers, as well as new Alberta industries such as hop growers and micro-maltsters. Please help us work towards a sustainable local community by purchasing craft beer and other products from locally-owned businesses. The next time you are out at your favorite brewpub or restaurant, ask your server who the owners are and where they are located — get to know who you are supporting.

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