Brick Brewing

Perfecting Ontario beer

“Canadians’ pride in our beer is second only to our hockey”

In anticipation of the May 24 long weekend and the beginning of the “beer drinking season”, Brick Brewing launched a high-profile media campaign, marking an exciting new chapter in the history of the 26-year-old Canadian brewery, one that sheds its quiet humility and embraces a reenergised direction for the brand. Emerging from a period of internal restructuring on all levels of operations, the team at Brick is experiencing a renaissance—a revitalised pride in the organization, its history, and, of course, its beer.

Theirs is a uniquely Canadian story. The Brick Brewing facility, located in Formosa, Ontario, has a brewing heritage that goes back to 1870, but the Waterloo facility that started the whole Ontario craft brewing expansion opened in 1984. And with three facilities (the third in Kitchener), the brewery is the fourth largest in Ontario, and the fifth largest in Canada. So the brewery’s typical yet endearing Canadian reticence for “boasting” must be the by-product of being the only 100 per cent Canadian owned brewery in that list.

Consumers have been overwhelmingly responsive to Brick Brewery’s new Ontario-owned campaign, which was precipitated by the push to go from being a secret gem to a crowning jewel in Canadian brewing. “I think we always knew it was important for Canadians to feel a sense of heritage and ownership,” says George Croft, President and CEO of Brick Brewing.

“One of the things that became very obvious was consumers’ lack of awareness of the significant amount of change that has happened within the beer category in Ontario,” he adds. Croft is referring to the foreign ownership of other breweries in the region. “When we probed people about how important it is that a brewer is Canadian-owned and even from Ontario, it became quite obvious that it was quite significant,” Croft says. Brick Brewing is confident its proud-to-be-local campaign will carry its sales well into the future, as the company hopes Ontarians will adopt the brand as their own.  

Industry recognition

A lot of Brick’s success has to do with winning brewing awards. As the recipient of over 60 international brewing awards, the company was awarded four of the prestigious medals at the Ontario Brewing Awards this year. The company’s three prioritized trademarks—Laker, Red Baron and Waterloo—all fared exceptional results.

Particularly exciting for Brick Brewing was when its Laker Light won the gold medal for the growing Light Beer category. The company’s “Make’r a Laker” campaign has found mass appeal amongst consumers who previously misjudged the product as a discount beer.

“I think sometime people just associate the price with the quality of the liquid, so for us it really was a moment of truth,” says Croft. “We knew that the liquid quality in our Laker trademark was equal to or better than most other products, but obviously winning the gold award really validated that position. Folks can get the gold-medal-winning product at significantly lower price than other products.”

Brick Brewing also took home the gold medal for Laker Honey in the Honey Maple category, the People’s Choice award for Laker Honey, as well as the silver medal for Waterloo Wheat in the Wheat category.

Beer for the masses

Having enjoyed consistent success is catering to beer aficionados, Brick is now ready to bring that success to a wider audience. The Brewery is set up to produce 5.5 million cases of beer bottles a year, which is equivalent to 132,000,000 bottles.

“Setting a different pace has allowed us to be very focused upon getting the organization fixed, and diligently working on the quality and consistency of our product. We are well prepared to look for incremental volume. We have a huge focus on quality,” says Croft.

 “Our intent is not to be pretentious. We think the quality and the consistency of our liquid is fabulous and we would just encourage people, next time they are at the Beer Store, to pick up one of our brands and give us a try,” says Croft. In a beer industry that is increasingly dominated by foreign players, Brick remains a proud, home grown, 100 per cent Canadian-run business that has been working 26 years to become the “next big thing.”