22-year-old entrepreneurs launch new London brewing company

Michael Woolfson left and Jack Jelinek right, co-owners of Crank Lite Lager. Crank Lite Lager

“There is a market for this” is how many entrepreneurs first start, and it’s that mentality that led two friends, still in school, to start brewing beer.

Jack Jelinek and Michael Woolfson, both 22, are the owners of Crank Lite Lager, an idea they first came up with last September while finishing their honours bachelor’s degrees at Western University’s Ivey Business School.

“Mike worked for some time at a craft brewery, and he thought, ‘I can do this and I can do this better,’ so he came to me with this idea,” Jelinek told Global News.

It took Jelinek all of 20 minutes before he was on board, and so began the brewing journey.

The product is targeted at young adults with the motto “Cheap beer shouldn’t taste bad.” Right now, they sell a case of 24 cans for $36.

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“I thought there is a gap in the market for a beer targeted at young adults and young professionals and who better knows this market than a young adult like myself?” Woolfson said.

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They worked with Equals Brewing Company, a contract brewery in London that assists small upstarts in creating their own unique flavour and then bottles and packages it for them to sell.

They started brewing in December with a plan to sell whole to festivals and events, which quickly changed with the spread of the coronavirus.

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Since the pandemic hit, the business has started to take off, with the two capitalizing on liquor stores temporally closing. Thanks to what they call the “ice cream truck of beer” or the “Crank Tank,” the two contact everyone they knew offering door-to-door beer delivery.

Michael Woolfson left and Jack Jelinek right, co-owners of Crank Lite Lager. Crank Lite Lager

“We thought, ‘This is our moment’ — we hopped right in the truck and started delivering beer. It was a grind, and it was a long day, but it was exciting,” Jelinek said.

On the first day, they sold 80 to 100 cases.

The two partnered with local restaurants and bars that were forced to shut down and then delivered the beer on their behalf. Currently, they are partnered with Supermarket restaurant in Toronto, focusing their deliveries on the GTA.

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They currently produce around 70 hectoliters a month, which they will be doubling come September.

As of Monday, Crank Lite Lager is sold in seven beer stores in southwestern Ontario, including London and Toronto, with plans to expand into a total of 15 come September.

Woolfson said they plan to make the business a household name and eventually take on some of the larger brand names.

“We think we have something here and are looking forward to where this takes us,” Woolfson.

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