Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Simon MacLeod, marketing lead of The Establishment Brewing Company, located at 4407 1 Street SE Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

The Establishment Brewing Company is a brewery and taproom located in Calgary’s Manchester Brewing District - an area perfect for brewery-hopping and was recently named Canadian Brewery of the Year for 2021 at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

We brew flavourful and highly drinkable beers, from barrel-aged sours to hop-forward ales, European lagers, and everything in between. We are a band of friends and beer fanatics, united by one common goal: the proliferation of friendship and great beer.

Our objective is to craft world-class beers while never forgetting a beer is only as good as the friends you enjoy it with. So we try to introduce people to local craft beer and open their eyes to delicious, classic, and approachable styles while also pushing the limits on what beer can taste like. We also love to work with other local beer stores and restaurants & bars. Anyway, if you consider beer your friend, we count you among ours.

Tell us about yourself

The Establishment was founded by a bunch of beer-loving friends who were also very talented homebrewers. Three of our founders, Mike Foniok, David Ronneberg, and Brandon Hart, each had over a decade of experience homebrewing and participation in the Cowtown Yeast Wranglers homebrew club.

The name ‘The Establishment’ is a nod to Mike’s old house in Erlton, where we often gathered to try the latest homebrews. We referred to the place as The Establishment after a sign that was propped up in the window.

It was Brandon who found The Establishment sign on a snowboarding road trip and propped it up in the window. Everyone agreed it suited the place, and the name stuck. It was also the place where, after the devastating flood in 2013, a gutted basement led to a newly expanded homebrew system, complete with a yeast lab, and tipped a homebrewing hobby into obsession territory. So, we’d all hang out and drink these amazing homebrewed beers that tasted better than anything we could buy, and half-joke about how we should just start our own brewery.

And then it got real when Mike decided that he actually wanted to make a go of it. So we teamed up, got a business plan together, and made it happen.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment so far was being recognized as 2021 Canadian Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards - a nationwide competition judging the quality of Canadian manufactured beer.

We always dreamed about this happening when we were in the planning stages of the brewery, but it was unreal to find ourselves here less than three years after opening. We feel extremely grateful and proud of our team - a team that's become more like a family at this point. This would not have been possible without the support and passion of our people.

We also feel tremendously proud to be a part of the Alberta craft beer community. This was the second year in a row that a Calgary brewery has been named Brewery of the Year. It was gratifying to celebrate the achievements of Alberta breweries on a National stage with them!

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Rolling with the punches. Business ownership will relentlessly test you by throwing curve balls and challenges when they are least expected. This constantly tests your resiliency and optimism, and with that comes managing mental health and life balance. Business ownership constantly pushes us beyond our comfort limits and demands that we stay adaptive and resilient.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start with a solid foundation, know what you want to do, and know what you value. Stick to it.
  2. Build a great team that you trust, and make sure you share the same vision and values. It’s the people that make a business successful, and it’s impossible to run a business alone.
  3. Ask for help when you need it, and lean on the people around you. Be careful about trying to do everything alone, and always set aside time to take care of yourself!

Where can people find you and your business?

The Establishment Brewing Company
<p>We are a band of friends and beer fanatics, united by one common goal: the proliferation of friendship and great beer. Brewery and taproom opening 2018 in Calgary’s Barley Belt.</p>

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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