About the Founders

The founders of Prairie Dog are regular, down-to-earth people who have a huge appreciation for craft beer and are passionate about the local community. All of the founders have spent a lot of time in breweries and beer bars enjoying beer of all styles and origins, and want to bring the same level of quality and variety to the Calgary scene that they encountered in places like California, Oregon, and Colorado.

Gerad Coles

Founder and Brewmaster

Gerad Coles, Founder and Brewmaster of Prairie Dog Brewing mashing in.

Gerad is passionate about transparency, sustainability, and community. He was born and raised in Calgary and before founding Prairie Dog Brewing, had a 14-year background in computer programming and managing operations for tech companies and busy websites like iStockphoto and Yahoo’s Polyvore, whom he spent four years working for in California’s Silicon Valley. It was while living in California that Gerad developed a strong interest and appreciation for craft beer, and where he first decided to try his hand at brewing.

In the years since that first batch, Gerad has brewed thousands of gallons of beer at home, and immersed himself in the craft by joining local clubs, reading dozens of beer-related books, listening to hundreds of podcasts and watching films. Gerad and his wife have visited many breweries and tried thousands of beers, and he even worked for free at a brewery to get a feel for commercial production. For years, Gerad has worked to challenge the quality of commercially-produced beers with his own home-brewed creations. After more than a decade of designing and maintaining complex technical infrastructure and managing technical teams, Gerad has developed a set of instincts that we believe will give us an advantage in developing and managing a successful, sustainable business.

Jay Potter

Founder and Executive Chef

Jay has been working in the restaurant industry for 20 years. He completed his Red Seal Accreditation in Ontario in 2013 after working in kitchens from the age of 14. After numerous years in the industry, working full-time in kitchens throughout College and University programs, he realized that food-service was where he belonged.

Following in the footsteps of his Grandfather Fred who was a cook during the 2nd World War and owned a restaurant/catering company in Hamilton, Ontario, Jay learned that hard work, determination and perseverance were key traits that would help him succeed.

Jay’s food-service resume reads like an eclectic music library. He has done everything from fast-food and production baking during his early teen years to modernist cuisine and golf course restaurant management in his late 20’s. He has worked in independent restaurants as well as managed a corporate Italian-American kitchen. Jay had the opportunity to live in Calgary for 2 years where he worked for a stint at one of Calgary’s top rated downtown restaurants.

For the past 3 years Jay has gained a wealth of industry knowledge while working as a Marketing Associate with one of North America’s largest foodservice distribution companies. Though he has been out of his kitchen “whites” for a couple of years, his industry expertise gained from conversing with over 35 regular clients will prove vital in Prairie Dog’s success.

Tyler Potter

Founder and Head Brewer

Tyler is a driven builder and problem solver. He is a community leader and is passionate about bringing people together to achieve more as a team. He spends most of his free time making things, fixing things, and brewing beer. After diving into beer making, he has spent the last year and a half setting up a large scale home-brewing system and operation in his friend’s garage and has spent countless hours listening to podcasts and studying books and blogs about beer making, brewery operation and beer in general. He has successfully brewed over a hundred gallons of beer (all-grain) and has thrown out a batch that was faulty. He cut the line in terms of producing quality homebrew; brewing all-grain with the right equipment (much of it home-fabricated), with the skilled tutelage of Gerad, and with an understanding of the science, produces beer at an advanced level considering his time involved in the hobby. He regularly brews on a smaller-scale system at home leading a team of 2 or 3.

Tyler has formally been in computer science for over 13 years, with a College diploma in Computer & Networking Systems and a University degree in Computer Science. He has been building websites, applications, and hobby electronics for even longer than that. Tyler has been working at Google Inc. for over 5 years and has excelled in process engineering: making workflows, engineers and business run more effectively by building tools, analyzing processes and delivering creative and innovative solutions. In his most recent role, he was an authoritative resource and built a team of subject area experts to support several teams (hundreds of engineers, in offices around the globe) developing the next generation of AdWords. Tyler has applied his design and building skills to his beermaking, producing several temperature control systems and an advanced control and reporting system for his homebrew-house.

Before working at Google, Tyler spent six years freelancing while going to school, building for the web – sites, e-commerce, apps, platforms and more. He has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and helped to build a small business in Montreal as VP:Development until moving to California. In Montreal, Tyler discovered the variety of beer beyond the macros and fell in love with microbreweries. Moving to California exposed Tyler to a vast landscape of beer styles, flavours, and experiences.

Sarah Goertzen

Founder and Director of Quality

Sarah first started drinking beer at a small brewery in Halifax, while on a brewery tour with a bunch of her fellow chemistry grad students. The tour guide had his work cut out for him in trying to answer all the nerdy questions the students had! Since then, she’s had an appreciation for the science of beer-making, though she was still not a regular beer drinker until discovering the craft beer scene during the five years she lived in California.

Sarah holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in chemistry. Through working at small companies in Silicon Valley, she has been accustomed to ‘wearing many hats’, and lending help where needed. Her experience in performing various types of testing in both the battery and pharmaceutical industries has allowed her to vastly expand her knowledge of analytical chemistry and Quality.

Her attention to detail and strict adherence to method reproducibility has allowed her to gain opportunities to work on method development and to write Standard Operating Procedures for both R&D and for QC in a small production facility. A brewery lives (and dies) by the quality of their beer, and Sarah will play a pivotal role in ensuring that Prairie Dog Brewing has a top-notch Quality program that is adhered to at all levels of operations.

Laura Coles

Founder and Director of Marketing and Public Relations

Laura is our Director of Marketing and Public Relations (PR). She was born in Edmonton, AB, but was raised on Vancouver Island where she eventually found her way into sales/customer service for a Victoria-based book publisher before making the leap to the mainland to work in customer support at iStockphoto, a Calgary tech startup at the time (where she met her husband Gerad). Laura and Gerad also ran a successful photography and canvas printing business until they shut it down because it wasn’t enjoyable anymore. After moving to California with Gerad, Laura became involved in organizing a large San Francisco Bay area women’s
meetup group (where she met Sarah Goertzen) and expanded her skills into digital marketing and social media.

Laura is a creative who loves free-form art like sculpting and
making clay pottery. Laura also enjoys travel and the outdoors, especially swimming, hiking, sailing and camping. At Prairie Dog, Laura is in charge of all aspects of marketing such as online, print, and radio advertising, and organizing our involvement in festivals and events. Laura also designs and orders all of the lovely merchandise available at Prairie Dog, like our apparel, coasters and glassware, and she has hand-made all of our tap handles up to this point. Laura works very hard to ensure that Prairie Dog Brewing continues to operate in a manner than is consistent with our culture and brand.

On the Public Relations side of her role, Laura is the first point of contact for most of our online inquiries and comments. Laura
reads and responds to nearly all of our Google reviews, social media messages and website-based emails. Laura is the creative mind behind our posts on social media and she and Gerad share the role of being our resident photographers and graphic artists. Laura handles inbound requests from charities, sporting leagues and teams, and coordinates most of the events and activities going on at the pub, both internally and customer generated.

She has a passion for learning as much about beer and has her level one certified beer Server on her way to becoming a Certified Cicerone.  Laura founded Calgary’s Barley’s Angels Beer Education Society (BABES), a group devoted to educating and fostering the appreciation of craft beer among women.

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