Canadian Packaging

Nice Day For A Party!—September 2017, Canadian Packaging

Ontario craft brewers in buoyant mood to celebrate the industry’s stellar growth


October 5, 2017
by Canadian Packaging staff

Caption: Steve Beauchesne, co-founder of Beau’s Brewing of Vankleek Hill, Ont., and 2017 co-chair of the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) association.

For an industry event that’s only been around for less than six years, the upcoming sixth annual Ontario Craft Brewers Conference & Suppliers Marketplace 2017 in Toronto is a crowd-pleaser par excellence.
Taking place at the newly-renamed Beanfield Centre (formerly Allstream Centre) at the Canadian National Exhibition ground on Oct. 19, 2017, the one-day event will bring together more than 1,000 craft beer industry professionals for a full day of educational sessions, lively panel discussions, and incredible networking opportunities offered by a lively Suppliers Marketplace featuring more than 100 exhibitors, along with delicious craft beer and food served throughout the day.
By any measure, the event will be a fitting way to toast and celebrate the breathtaking growth of the Ontario’s craft-brewing sector and the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB) association, which now comprises more than 80 independently-owned brewers united by their shared passion for product authenticity and traditional recipes based on the use of only all-natural, pure ingredients.
According to OCB, “Ontario craft brewers continually strive to improve quality and honor traditional craft brewers through a replication of time-honored brewing styles and a commitment to this Brewing Philosophy.
“We continue to remain committed to individual expression to create high quality, innovative, and unique beers,” OCB states. “The result is a variety of distinctive, flavorful styles  and taste profiles that appeal to beer lovers with a sense of discovery and adventure.
“All Ontario Craft Brewers pledge to brew naturally with malt and other grains, not wort extract, as a foundation for their beers, maintaining authenticity to traditional styles, and  using only all-natural, pure ingredients with no chemical additives, fillers or preservatives.
“The result is a variety of distinctive, flavorful styles and taste profiles that appeal to beer lovers with a sense of discovery and adventure,” says OCB, adding its member-companies  currently offer more than 450 distinct brands based on either traditional brewing styles (Pilsner, Vienna-style Lager, Munich Dunkel, Weiss Beer, Nut Brown Ale, etc.) or the highly innovative styles such as Hemp, Cranberry Wheat, Cask-conditioned Lager, Mead, and Coffee Porter.
The Canadian Packaging magazine recently caught up with OCB co-chair Steve Beauchesne, co-founder of Beau’s Brewing in Vankleek Hill, Ont., to get an insider’s perspective on where the province’s craft brewing industry is headed.

What are the current hot-button issues and challenges for your industry?
Freshness and quality are always top-of-mind topics for this industry. As craft brewers, we all have a shared responsibility to deliver fresh and high-quality beer, because any slip-ups in freshness and quality can impact the entire industry. For this industry to grow and thrive, all craft brewers bear the responsibility of making sure that freshness and quality take center stage with what they’re trying to deliver to their customers.

With Ontario finally allowing some limited beer sales at mainstream grocery outlets, what has been the impact on your industry?
The impact has been very positive for our industry. In grocery stores, craft beer has a market share that is more than double compared to what it is in other sales channels—in many ways thanks to the better access to customers. We hope that government will continue to help out craft brewers by keeping up the pace of rollouts of stores that are selected to sell craft beer.

Is the Ontario craft-beer business nowadays getting too crowded for its own good?
It’s exciting to have new entrants come into the marketplace with new ideas, and I believe there is still plenty of room in the market to support local craft brewing as long as the companies focus on what makes craft beer great—freshness and quality.

Please reflect on the role and importance of packaging for the Ontario craft brewers.
Effective packaging is an absolute necessity for selling the product in the retail space. It’s a cost of business that no craft brewer can avoid, so it makes all the sense in the world to use it to your advantage and leverage that initial investment to really go above and beyond its primary purpose.
In many ways it’s another type of POS (point-of-sale) advertising, and for a small producer it can be more effective than more expensive advertising options, and just as effective as costly in-store promotions.
On the shelf, where you have a captive audience who is ready to make a purchasing decision, packaging can be the proverbial difference maker.
In general, craft brewers are using thoughtful graphic design and illustration to sell their product, with many also using materials and techniques in interesting unconventional ways—focusing on the consistency of brand application and using brand grouping/blocking techniques to cultivate brand
loyalty.
All in all, packaging is the most efficient and pragmatic way for craft brewers to differentiate themselves from the Big Beer brands in the marketplace.”

To register for the Ontario Craft Brewers Conference & Suppliers Marketplace 2017 event, please go to: www.ontariocraftbrewers.com.