Great Western Brewing Company Takes a Gamble
It’s not all that often that you hear about small brewers succeeding on a provincial scale. In Ontario, it’s a coup if a brewery gets into an LCBO release. The stakes are different in Saskatchewan, however, where there are fewer players in the game.
Take, for instance, the Great Western Brewing Company, which has recently released Original 16 Pale Ale. For the first time in their history, Great Western is rolling out a product to all of Western Canada at once. It’s a crisp, smooth beer with incredibly persistent carbonation that is double aged for a total of 31 days. There are some slight citrus and floral aromas present, but there’s no overwhelming hop presence. In short, it’s the kind of beer you really want to drink on a hot day in the prairies. Possibly in large quantities. Hydration is important.
Great Western CEO Michael Micovcin related to me that Original 16 is the brewery’s foray into the premium market in Western Canada and envisions the beer holding its own against brands like Keith’s and Blue. I can’t say that I disagree with him about this possibility, if only on the strength of the marketing.
Great Western, as you may know, is the little brewery that could. In 1989, when the brewery (a Molson-owned property at the time) was going to shut down, a group of 16 employees banded together in order to purchase the facility, which takes up a city block in downtown Saskatoon. Since then, they have garnered a number of accolades, including a gold medal from the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards for their Brewhouse Light and a 2009 World Beer Award in the Best Standard Lager category.
It’s an improbable story, not only for the amount of pluck and determination shown by the owners of the brewery, but also because Molson decided to sell it to them in the first place, instead of shutting the door on possible competition.
Original 16 Pale Ale is the result of nearly 18 months of research and development on the part of the Great Western Brewing Company and is timed to coincide with the 20-year anniversary of the first bottle to come off the production line.
It’s a sophisticated marketing decision. The website for the product (www.original16.com) features a documentary in which many of the founding owners of the brewery appear to tell their stories. It’s thoughtful and touching and the kind of thing that is likely to produce a single manly tear if you’re a beer enthusiast. In a market where brand recognition is based on ideas and images, Great Western has instead made the decision to proudly display their history. Sure, it’s a play to emotion, but it’s a true story; one where the little guys win.
It remains to be seen exactly how successful the product will be in Western Canada. Original 16 is the result of a number of consumer taste panels, meaning that it has been designed to appeal to the popular preference. While it’s certainly a well-made beer, I think it’s the story that will put them over the top. Choosing a beer to drink will always be a matter of taste, but the legend will at least get people to try it. Sometimes, that’s what makes the difference.
Source: Toronto Sun
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22nd Annual Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence Celebrated
Saskatchewan’s tourism industry honoured businesses and individuals at the 22nd annual Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala, which was celebrated on Wednesday, April 20 at TCU Place in Saskatoon.
“The Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala pays tribute to entrepreneurs, volunteers, businesses, and attractions committed to a ‘culture of quality’ for our sector,” Dr. Lynda Haverstock, President/CEO of Tourism Saskatchewan, said. “It is a privilege to honour those who soar above and beyond expectation to make our province a superb destination. Tourism Saskatchewan is delighted to host this annual celebration. Our congratulations are extended to all of the award recipients and nominees.”
A 12-person tourism industry committee selected the 40 finalists and 13 award recipients from nearly 60 nominations. The Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was selected by Sue Schigol, Chair of Tourism Saskatchewan’s Board of Directors, and the Outfitter Legacy Award recipient was chosen by the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association.
The awards gala was among the highlights of the fourth annual HOST Saskatchewan Conference, an impressive tourism showcase held on April 19-20 at TCU Place in Saskatoon. A joint venture of Tourism Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association, the two-day event featured informative workshops and networking opportunities.
The winners of the 2010 Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence from Saskatoon and area are:
Business of the Year Award
(Over 50 Full-time Employees)
Delta Bessborough Hotel, Saskatoon
Since it opened its doors in 1935, the Delta Bessborough Hotel has been more than just a hotel on the riverbank in Saskatoon. Because of the beautiful setting and grandeur, it has naturally been a destination hotel over its 76-year lifetime, and the city’s signature landmark. From the moment a visitor enters the impressive lobby, it is evident that the staff are there to be of service. With a philosophy of exceeding expectations, their friendliness and efficiency speak to a culture that cares about those who enter its doors. The Delta Bessborough Hotel is a tourism business that definitely draws visitors to Saskatoon, and the province. It is because of this commitment to unparalleled customer service that the hotel has witnessed successively stronger business performance over the past decade. The Delta Bessborough is Saskatoon’s hotel of reputation, occasion, and destination because it is dedicated to creating a positive experience for all visitors.
Event of the Year Award
(Budget Over $20,000)
IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, Saskatoon and Regina
In 2008, it was decided to create a Saskatchewan-wide bid to host the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, mainly in Saskatoon and Regina, to benefit the entire province. The Bid Committee’s mission was to host the best event in the championship’s 34-year history. Not only was the bid successful, but the event, held December 26, 2009 to January 5, 2010, was an unqualified success, showcasing the province, upgrading sports facilities, and bringing major tourism dollars into communities in Saskatchewan. About 302,000 spectators attended the 31 games, and 23,500 more took part in six pre-tournament games held throughout the province. Approximately 21,000 out-of-town visitors attended games in the two host cities. The total economic impact was estimated at over $81 million.
Gil Carduner Marketing Award
(Budget Over $20,000)
Trails of 1885
The Trails of 1885 initiative partnered sites related to the North West Resistance of 1885 in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta, focusing primarily on product development and marketing to ensure long-term viability. This interprovincial trail provided a rare opportunity for the Prairie provinces to collaborate and mutually develop Aboriginal tourism initiatives. In 2010, Trails of 1885 succeeded in bringing together over 125 coalition members and developing eight battle sites and six related locations to engage resident and short- and long-haul markets. More than $250,000 was spent on promotion of the Trails of 1885 product theme. Elements of the successful marketing campaign included: highway signage, billboards, radio ads, a high-profile media launch, website development, 1885-branded merchandise, and the distribution of a 16-page travel guide to 350,000 households throughout Saskatchewan.
Human Resource Development Award
Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA)
The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) employs more than 2,100 people at seven locations throughout the province. SIGA casinos entertain millions of guests annually and offer the excitement of slot machines, table games, a full line of food and beverage services, and live entertainment. The casinos feature traditional First Nations hospitality and SIGA’s focus on hiring and building First Nation’s capacity within its workforce is clearly identifiable. Managers are accountable for implementing measures to ensure business success and a satisfied and stable workforce. Programs such as the Tuition Reimbursement Program, employer paid certifications and memberships, paid time off to attend annual/regular seminars/events, professional development, and improved chances for promotion are all a part of SIGA’s human resource development initiatives.
Online Marketing Campaign of the Year Award
SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, Saskatoon
For 10 days each summer, the city of Saskatoon bursts into song as the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival plays host to hundreds of world-class artists. Each year, over 70,000 music fans enjoy the sounds of jazz, blues, funk, pop, and world music at what is considered the second largest jazz festival in western Canada, and the fifth largest in Canada. Over the past two years, ticket sales have increased by 70 per cent, and organizers credit a shift in its marketing strategy. Since 2009, following a rebrand, the festival has had a more significant online presence with an updated website, use of social networks (Facebook and Twitter), email marketing, Google advertising, and a MP3 business card. This deliberate combination of online and traditional marketing has helped transform the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival into an even stronger provincial event and an undeniable success, generating over $3 million in tourism revenue.
Service Excellence Award (Individual)
Colleen Norrish, Trails of 1885, Saskatoon
Since November 2008, Colleen Norrish has held the position of Project Manager for the Trails of 1885 initiative. To mark the 125th anniversary of the Northwest Resistance in 2010, Colleen, with the assistance of numerous individuals and partner organizations, developed and implemented 61 events in 39 communities across Saskatchewan. As part of a project that extended across three provinces, Colleen forged and maintained numerous relationships. Ultimately, she helped acquire more than $500,000 in support for core funding, marketing and promotion, and legacy projects to permanently improve awareness about the events surrounding 1885 and the various related sites across Saskatchewan. Colleen was able to bring together stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds and initiatives to achieve a common goal – to tell the story of the 1885 Resistance.
Travel Media Award
Robin and Arlene Karpan, Saskatoon
Robin and Arlene Karpan published their latest book, Saskatchewan Wild – A Wildlife Photographic Journey, in April 2010. This 128-page, hardcover book features 183 stunning colour photographs of Saskatchewan’s wildlife and wild places, complemented by a well-researched and entertaining commentary. As the first ever high-quality hardcover photographic book devoted entirely to Saskatchewan wildlife, it will be valuable in helping to raise the profile of the province as a nature and wildlife destination. The Karpans have long been recognized as travel journalists with a special expertise in Saskatchewan travel and tourism. Through their publishing company, Parkland Publishing, which they started in 1998, they have completed 10 books on Saskatchewan. Many of these have been Canadian best sellers, and over the past few years, cumulative sales of these books have topped 75,000.
Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Arne Petersen, Elk Ridge Resort
Arne Peterson is a true entrepreneur and visionary. In 1975, he started Precision Service and Engineering in Prince Albert. Twenty years later, he sold the company and it was the success of that business that led him to his next venture – Elk Ridge Resort. In 1991, development began on the ambitious project, located just outside of Prince Albert National Park. Starting with a nine-hole golf course, club house, and pavilion, Elk Ridge Resort has developed into a four-star, four-season facility with a 27-hole championship golf course, hotel and convention centre, three restaurants, saltwater pool, and full-service day spa. The resort also features a RV park, rental cabins, condominiums, and private residential lots. In 2009, Arne was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit for his outstanding contributions to Saskatchewan’s tourism sector.
Source: Tourism Saskatchewan
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