Behind every good craft beer, there’s a community
Grain Bin Brewing Company is a community-driven craft brewery in Grande Prairie that proudly offers a select line of high-quality flagship beers, as well as locally inspired seasonal brews. The company’s small-batch mindset allows it to create the freshest beer with the greatest variety for its growing community of customers and supporters. As it prepares to expand and move into its new location in September, it continues to excite the community with beers like it’s ‘democracy series’ label where people vote on the ingredients that make up the final brew.
It’s not everyday that a hobby turns into a business. For the six shareholders at Grain Bin Brewing Company, this actually happened three years ago.
Dalen Landis, a Grande Prairie local and one of the company’s six owners, started home-brewing beer after he was out of high school. He moved, completed a Fine Arts degree, got married, worked as a tile setter in the custom flooring industry, took on fine-art jobs on the side and started raising a family. In between all that, he still found a bit of time to brew a nice, cold one. It was hard to find enough time though, so he got together with his friends— Brad Hansen, Carson Siebert, Scott Roessler, Arnold Wiebe and Daniel Hildebrandt—and they ended up taking turns brewing, splitting the time and sharing the cost of equipment.
When the law changed in Alberta around the minimum volume required for a commercial brewery license, the group of friends got more serious about their hobby. However, their goal wasn’t to start a brewery. They just wanted to produce more beer than they were and of the types they liked, all while keeping it a hobby. But other friends urged them to take the leap. They did some calculations and saw that it might be feasible. They took the plunge, leased some space, ordered equipment, set up a small bottling line and branded themselves with a name that reflected where they came from, but didn’t limit them geographically (they were all from the Peace River region in Grande Prairie). And thus was born Grain Bin Brewing Company.
They focused on producing “beer for the people” through their democracy series. Because of their size and volume, they could experiment more regularly and produce smaller batches. They wanted to see what other people were interested in drinking and let them decide what was important to them. People could go online and vote for the next style of beer that the company brewed through this label series. It’s become more than just about the company.
Community was another focus of their beers. They wanted to produce a high-quality product, a really good beer, for people to enjoy. At the same time, they also wanted to help the community and give back to everyone who supported them. “We feel it’s their brewery, too,” says Dalen. Their community beer program involves the charitable organization coming in and designing a beer with them down to the label and name. When the beer sells, the organization gets to keep the proceeds. Sales aren’t huge but the awareness is great as the organization is exposed to a community of supporters that they may not usually be exposed to.
Overall, the company’s goals remain simple and straightforward: continue to think long term, continue to make decisions that make fiscal sense and that the company can afford, be financially sound and get to take on more community requests and campaigns. And of course, always continue to experiment and make good-quality craft beer.
The plan also remains to grow the company at a steady pace. The company has been successful so far thanks to its low-risk decisions, the skill and experience of the shareholder team and the community’s support.
The Next Big Step
The company has always been purposeful and steady in its growth. Its next step now is to move into the new, more central location in Grande Prairie, which is slated to open in September. As part of the expansion strategy, the new location will feature upgraded equipment and services. The company is focused on wholesale currently but is planning to open a retail location as part of their expansion. It’s hoping to raise $100,000 through the loan with ATB LendR. This loan would help the company:
-Transition to the new location
-Offset the additional costs around setting up the new retail location
-Upgrade to larger equipement