From small bars to upscale restaurants, craft beer has taken over taps across Canada. And Alberta is no exception — growing appetite for local craft beer has spurred many local entrepreneurs and inspired them to tap into the brewing.
This week, Inspired YEG features Goat Locker, a passion project started by Brett Lovas and a couple of his friends.
Inspired by the Rise of Craft Beer in Canada
After trying their hand at home brewing and distilling, Brett Lovas and a couple of his friends decided to take it to the masses. They realized that craft beer in Alberta was going to enter a huge growth period, so they decided to get in on the action. Fortunately for them, entering the industry in our province is easier than ever before — the laws has been changed a few years back making it easier for people to start their own brewery.
The Story of Goat Locker
“We have created Goat Locker to be very approachable craft beer, while still focusing on the highest quality of ingredients and care. We figure that there is a lot of people making beer in Alberta and we as an industry are trying to turn people onto local beer,” says Will Tanner, the Goat Locker Sales & Marketing Representative.
Goat Locker has been supplying venues in Alberta with kegs of locally brewed beer starting from May 2016, and since then their supply chain has grown significantly.
Today, Goat Locker products are distributed throughout Alberta and can be found at Sobey’s, Safeway, Liquor Depot, and many small independent stores. They are also served at many restaurants including Craft Beer Market, National, Original Joe’s, The Keg, to name a few.
Currently, Goat Locker offers two full-time products — Goat Locker “Pale Session Ale” and the “Fainting Bock.” The PSA is a 4.5% West Coast Pale Ale which has hints of citrus and sweet bready malts. The “Fainting Bock”’ is a 5.6% German style Lager with rich malt, hints of caramel and just enough hops to make it not to sweet.
“Our lager, The Fainting Bock, is a German style lager. We use Alberta barley and German style hops. The lager has been very well received as not many small craft brewers make a lager as a full-time offering, especially a Bock style. Besides Bock being a beer style, Bock is also the German word for Goat, so we called it the Fainting Bock (Goat). It fits well with our branding and fits even better with our brand story. Now you can hang out in your local Goat Locker with a goat (the can is made to look like a goat),” explains Will.
He also adds that their styles are a great transition into craft beer for people looking to make the switch but don’t necessarily want something too big and overpowering.
“Our goal is to show people craft beer comes in lots of varieties and there is something out there for everyone. And Goat Locker is a great place to start.”
The Company’s Biggest Hurdles and Biggest Achievements
Will believes that the biggest achievement for them so far is consumer feedback.
“We have gotten great feedback about our products so far through our events and working beer shows. It’s very rewarding seeing people enjoy our beer and story. Lots of work goes into creating the beer, and it’s very reassuring seeing people enjoy our brand. We are still very new but are extremely happy with how our beer has been received, and have a great foundation going forward.”
When asked about the biggest hurdles for Goat Locker, he says that it is distribution. He also adds that it is the most common hurdle for all breweries. “There is only a certain amount of taps and shelf space out there, and everyone wants more,” comments he.
The Power of Strong Brand Identity
Will believes that creating a powerful brand identity is one of the key components of being able to stand out as a brand and developing strong relationships with consumers.
“The brand is critical to your business. Obviously, the beer is the most important but after that consumers like a brand that they think is fun and cool. Making people relate and enjoy your brand is huge to your success.”
He sees a lot of opportunities for strengthening brand identity through events for interacting directly with consumers and talking to them about the brand. One of the recent events Goat locker organized was their Stampede party that took place on July 12th at Vagabond YYC.
“Such events allow people to meet those behind the beer and interact with craft beer lovers.”
Tips from Goat Locker for Aspiring Brewers
When it comes to advice for aspiring brewers, Will recommends the following:
1. Make sure you love making beer. It’s a tough and competitive industry to get into, and patience is everything.
2. Work every beer event. It’s rare we get to interact directly with consumers so talking to people about your brand and getting them to try the product is crucial. It’s not the fastest way to get your product out there, but your business will grow one sample at a time.
What is Next?
The next big thing for Goat Locker is the release of a seasonal menu in the coming winter of 2017.
“We are also currently looking for locations in Calgary to build our brewery. We’re getting to the fun stuff… Stay Tuned!”
Interested in learning more about Goat Locker? Still wondering what their name stands for? Go to goatlockerbeer.com to find out!