A Saskatchewan beer company has something brewing, and it isn’t just the beer.
“At 94 years of age, it is beginning to show its age,” admitted Great Western CEO Michael Brennan. “We risk every day that one of our pieces could break and we won’t be able to produce beer.
“That’s a risk I can’t live with as a CEO, so that’s what’s really driven this.”
Great Western Brewing is in discussions with the City of Saskatoon to approve zoning for an addition to the brewery that would be built into the current parking space.
If approved, construction will begin next year.
“We’ve been talking with the city for a number of months, but have gone into the formal process now with them,” Brennan said. “They have to go through an approval process as the zoning for this area was changed many years ago, so we’re not actually zoned to add a new brewery on this site.”
The expansion would cost the company around $40 million and double the current output of beer to 100 million cans per year.
“It’s going to be one of the most modern breweries in the country,” Brennan said. “Right now we use about 900 litres of water to make 100 litres of beer and we’ll cut that in half.”
Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce CEO Jason Aebig says he is excited to see how the expansion will bring more business to a growing area of the city.
“I think it’s a great development for Saskatoon, because in effect it’s an expansion of the city’s business core into north downtown,” Aebig said. “With Great Western’s expansion, this will continue to shape 2nd Avenue North as a key business corridor.”
“It’s great because with the opening of River Landing and now these anchor businesses on 2nd Avenue North, in effect it kind of bookends downtown and we start to really see the expansion of the core which is exciting for all of us.”
He says it’s a testament to the business that despite decades of challenges and a recent pandemic, Great Western Brewing is still bringing more jobs and growth to Saskatchewan.
“It’s a made-in-Saskatoon success story,” he said. “We should all be really proud of it and really thrilled that this company continues to grow and grow roots right here.”
Great Western’s CEO says it’s a success story to which he’s proud to be adding a chapter.
“What fires me up the most is …the 16 gentlemen that 31 years ago, took a risk to keep this brewery alive in the city,” Brennan said. “And (the fact that) we’re able to continue that legacy on for those gentlemen.”
He adds that they are enthusiastic to provide more job opportunities at a difficult time for people in the province.
“We employ 100 people across western Canada. The majority of them are here in the city. Being able to build on site allows us to use our existing packaging facilities without having to reinvest there but at the same time protect jobs.”