Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in craft breweries, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeremy Taylor, the founder of 2 Crows Brewing Co, a craft brewery in Canada.
Tell us all about your business...
2 Crows Brewing Co is a craft brewery located in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia. We focus on producing modern beers, with an emphasis on quality above all else. We have an extensive wood aging and wild beer program, a diverse lager program that highlights locally-grown ingredients, and produce lots and lots of big juicy IPAs too.
Our aim is to get people thinking about craftsmanship, where their beer is coming from, and the various characteristics that make beer great. We also aim to make the best contribution to the local and global community that we possibly can – we do this by working extensively with local growers and producers to source our malt, hops, and various fruit we use.
We also advocate and raise funds for further diversity and inclusion within the brewing industry through a number of partnerships with a local BIPC brewing collective, and work alongside a number of other local organizations to support our community at large.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a business owner?
Like many brewers I know, I came to the brewing industry in a bit of a roundabout manner. Before getting into brewing, I worked for several years in a molecular biology laboratory, performing genetic sequencing of the HIV virus for clinical and research purposes. I loved the work I did there, but I didn't want to be a lab rat for the rest of my life. I have always enjoyed cooking and playing with flavours, so when my partner got me a very simple home-brew kit my eyes were really opened to the possibilities of brewing – getting to geek out on the science behind brewing, playing with flavour combinations, and ultimately getting a beer at the end of the process seemed like the perfect life for me.
Because I was a bit older and leaving a decent career with benefits etc, I decided to go back to school for brewing instead of starting at a brewery mopping the floor with the aim to work my way up the ladder. I completed an MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Edinburgh's Heriot Watt University in 2014 before working as a head brewer in BC for a few years, and ultimately making the move to Halifax to start 2 Crows Brewing.
That passion for brewing is still the driving factor behind everything I do at 2 Crows, and I am still very much involved in the design and execution of all our beers. We hold ourselves to very high standards here at the brewery, and we have dumped thousands and thousands of litres of beer that haven't made the cut. We also like to have a lot of fun here too – it's just beer after all! – and keep things light with constant experimenting and paying attention to different brewing trends we might want to jump on.
As an entrepreneur, what does success ultimately mean to you?
I think the thing that brings me the most pleasure as a business owner is reaching someone who normally wouldn't drink our beers. The "I normally don't drink craft beer, but I love this!" crowd is a lot of fun, and it is always exciting to challenge people's preconceived notions of what our product will be about. We do a lot of wine/beer hybrids, and a lot of low alcohol beers, and those tend to appeal to folks that would otherwise stay away from craft beer.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being an entrepreneur?
I find it is incredibly hard to ensure a good work-life balance, as owning a business can be all consuming. My partner has been really good at pushing me to switch off on weekends and evenings, but even when I am not at the brewery I still find myself obsessing over different aspects of the business and spending far too much time on my phone going down different rabbit holes in pursuit of 2 Crows' next big thing.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
1. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you, and just as passionate as you are. My business partner Mark is an accountant by training, and he is the guy that focuses on the books. I am a professional brewer, and I get to focus on what I know – making beer. We have also brought on a really great team of folks to help us run the business, and work with our employees strengths and passions to keep this place working smoothly.
2. Try to find a good work-life balance, as it can be all-consuming to run your own business. Take breaks, find people that can cover for you, and turn off your phone when possible.
3. Remember you are part of the community. It is easy to get wrapped up in your own little world as a business owner, and not notice the world beyond the walls of your particular business. Where possible, help out your local community groups, partner with other organizations, and be collaborative -- it doesn't have to be monetary contributions, as that is hard for a new business, but even sharing things on your social media goes a long way to promote others.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We ship beer across Canada, and our website also has a map of various locations where our beer is available. Coming to the brewery itself is always a great experience, and where we have the widest variety of beers available.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as an entrepreneur or business coach that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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