'It's completely different than that bar vibe': Why craft beer is growing in popularity in Saskatoon
SASKATOON -- The COVID-19 pandemic may have delayed the opening of Saskatoon’s newest craft brewery, but it hasn’t diminished the owners’ excitement in becoming a part of what could be a rapidly growing trend in our province.
“It's been it's been at the forefront of my mind for three years,” said Better Brothers Brewing Company co-owner Jeff Rushton, who along with his twin brother and co-owner Nathan, is now looking at opening the first weekend in September.
Rushton says while he attended brewery school at Olds’ College in Alberta, he noticed the craft beer industry gaining momentum.
“I feel that B.C.’s craft industry has been going pretty strong for the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “Then Alberta's industry over the last five or six years, it's just blown up from seven or eight craft breweries to now over 150.
“That is slowly working its way east. So it's just hit Saskatchewan basically this last couple of years, and I think we're right at the forefront. I think in the next two years, you'll see another 10 or 15 breweries come to Saskatchewan.”
The Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Authority says there are about 35 microbreweries in the province, with 16 micro-distilleries and 10 cottage wineries.
John Styles opened Outlaw Trails Spirits Distillery in Regina in 2016, and says “the industry has experienced phenomenal growth and appreciation.”
“Things evolved out of the home brewing groups that were located in various parts of the province, and people developed a real appetite for beer that wasn't a beer their dad drank,” he said.
According to Styles, it’s the variety of tastes and styles that craft brewing can produce that has made them so popular, adding that some places will “have 12 to 17 beers available for you to try.”
“That's part of the appeal of craft culture,” he said. “It's about experimenting. Experimenting with your taste buds and experimenting with the talents of the various craft brewers that are around town.”
Styles says as long as people are willing to keep experimenting with different tastes and experiences, the industry will continue to gain popularity.
“That really is what drives it, it's the individual’s experience, wherever it is that they've tried this new and interesting product.”
Rushton believes part of the reason for a growing number of craft breweries stems from the owners, and their willingness to welcome more people into the community.
“It's funny because a lot of industries kind of get scared of having competition, but it seems like with the craft industry the more the better, just because it is at the forefront of everybody's mind,” he said.
“We've seen in Alberta, because they're so common, rather than just going to one craft brewery in an afternoon you go to three or four that are grouped together.”
Rushton says another reason for the popularity of craft breweries is their atmosphere.
“They're basically like an adult coffee shop, like the same kind of feel. You can just go sit down have a beer, talk with friends, and it's completely different than that bar vibe. It's just very inviting and kind of a homey feel,” he said.
“We're just really excited to get open, and we love Saskatoon. In the next five years, we're super stoked with the craft industry and where it's going to go.”