Day 518

In a few short weeks, we will all be out looking for jobs, and undoubtedly some of us, at least for a time, will end up as sales representatives, spending our days going from bar to bar trying to convince the manager to buy a keg of our beer. That’s exactly what our Sales & Promotion special guest does for a living– Adrian Pennachetti is a sales rep for Steam Whistle Brewing of Toronto, responsible for the Niagara region of Ontario.

Steam Whistle is one of the big success stories of Ontario craft brewing, started by three dudes who had formerly worked for Upper Canada Brewing. Upper Canada was the second craft brewery to open in Ontario way back in 1985, but by 1998 they had become a bit unfocussed, producing 9 different beers. They got bought up by Sleeman, and pretty well everyone in the company–including the three dudes mentioned before–were fired. In 2000, the dudes decided to start up a new brewery, and almost named it Three Fired Guys before settling on Steam Whistle. (“3FG” is still stamped on every Steam Whistle bottle as a reminder of the name that almost was.) The three fired guys decided that their new brewery would be a bit different. Most other Ontario craft breweries of the time were tucked away in industrial malls, which didn’t exactly attract a lot of visitors. Steam Whistle, in contrast, put up a shiny new shop in the historic CN Roundhouse beside the CN Tower, and became known for their tours as much as for their beer. (Several hundred thousand people visit the brewery every year.) Steam Whistle differed from other breweries in another important aspect–whereas most breweries in Ontario in 2000 made several different types of ale, Steam Whistle settled on producing one single beer, a lager, packaged in a distinctive 1940s-style green bottle. And Steam Whistle has become a giant success story, brewing upwards of 32,000 hectolitres annually.

So Adrian described the sales pitch he makes to the bar manager when he cold calls (just drops in), seeking to get Steam Whistle on tap. Part of Adrian’s pitch is that he can provide all sorts of promotional support for the bar. Steam Whistle has its own in-house creative department so if one of Adrian’s accounts is having a special event, Adrian can get the in-house designers to whip up a special banner or poster. Steam Whistle also provides a line-cleaning service that visits the bar and cleans the Steam Whistle line regularly. And Steam Whistle has a retro bus that can come and pick up the bar staff and take them to the brewery for a tour and party.

So although Adrian had some good advice for us regarding how to approach bar managers, he also has some serious advantages in his back pocket–an in-house creative department and dedicated line-cleaning team?–that most craft brewers can only dream of.

In Brewery Management, we discussed a recent news article about University of British Columbia, where the student union decided to open a student-owned brewpub. We also discussed the possible effects on craft brewers if beer sales in Ontario were to be allowed in grocery stores, in convenience stores, or possibly in combination craft wine and beer stores.

After that little warm-up, we talked about a building for our brewery. Should we buy or lease? Ditto for equipment–should we buy our brewing equipment, or lease it? Keeping in mind that equipment depreciates in value but real estate appreciates in value, the bottom line seemed to be that we should lease the equipment but buy the building–if we have the money.

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