This meeting was held in the Trinity United Church sanctuary and began at 9:55 am chaired by Vice-President Julian Sale. There were 36 members in attendance. Julian opened the meeting by welcoming all in attendance with a special welcome to today’s guest presenters, Asa and Colton Proveau. Julian gave a big thank-you to Andy Curtis for filling-in at the last meeting on short notice.
For openers Julian provided some rather obscure known facts on several topics.
Coffee Club – Andy Curtis The coffee club meets every other Thursday at 10:00 am at either the Boathouse or the Airpark Café. Everyone is welcome.
Activities – Ray Biffis Regarding the Night at the Races in Elora on September 24th, and the Grand River Boat Cruise on September 19th , beginning next meeting it will be open to signing-up non-members as guests to attend either of these two events until we reach the maximum number.
Announcement Board – David Wallace A volunteer is needed to look after and revise the Club announcement white board for the month of August when David will be away. (Ritchie Zelk volunteered to look after the board and update it for the next two meetings.)
Julian Sale introduced twin brothers Asa and Colton Proveau who started the Brothers Brewing Company located in the Petrie Building in downtown Guelph. This started as a long-term plan that they formulated in their senior year of high school. Armed with degrees in both Business Administration and Brewmaster and Brewery Management, the two worked for some of the top craft breweries in Ontario before launching Brothers Brewing Company in the spring of 2014. While contract brewing a batch of their beer at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery, the brothers met Michael Bevan, then a student in the Brewmaster and Brewery Management program. Seeking a change of pace from his 20 year career with RBC Dominion Securities, Michael was looking for a chance to use his business experience to help a small brewery get to the next level. Joining the Brothers in 2015, the team launched Brothers Ale House this spring in Downtown Guelph!
Asa and Colton Proveau – Brothers Brewing Company (See slides from their presentation on the Club website)
The brothers began their presentation by relating how they got started. In grade eleven they were musicians who wanted to get into the music industry but were also interested in starting their own brew company as a business when they finished their education. At the time in 2008 there were only about 30 – 35 craft breweries in Ontario. Thinking that since craft breweries were expanding in the United States they thought they might get into the business before it fully expanded in Ontario. Because they didn’t really have any money to start this business they thought they would have to tactically approach how to get started. So Colton went to university to get a degree in business administration and Asa went to Niagara College to get a diploma in brewing and brew master.
After graduating they both went on to work at a bunch of different breweries to get some experience. Colton started working for a micro brewery in Muskoka and Asa began working at Sleemans in Guelph. Eventually both brothers were working for a craft brewery in Muskoka and after a few short years of getting some experience and while commuting to Niagara College to work a contract at brewing beer there they decided it was time to start their own business. Their family owned the last vestiges of a once 200 acre farm and they still had the buildings. The original plan was to have an estate brewing operation. However that wasn’t to be because brewing is different than wine production and the Escarpment Commission and the Ontario Government wanted them to put in a $200,000 waste water treatment facility which they could not rationalize given the small amount of beer they were going to produce.
So, they took a look at the industry and how it was shaping up at the time and how small towns were each starting to open up local craft breweries. At this point they started to look at towns where it would be cost effective and they could open up a brew pub. Being familiar with Guelph and thinking this is a town that really needed a brew pup and the fact that it didn’t yet have one they hit on this location. Coincidentally one day they were sitting on a patio looking across the street at the renovations that were starting to take place at the Petrie Building. By checking this out on Facebook they took a shot at sending a post to the current landlords of the Petrie Building to inquire whether or not they would be interested in having a brew pub in the building once initial renovations were completed. The new landlords were also just completing their purchase of the building and after several months of negotiations the chance to set up a brew pub became an opportunity.
Finances became the next hurdle. By chance they met their future new business partner, Michael Bevan who had recently retired from RBC Dominion Securities and had taken a course at Niagara College for brewing and brew master, the same course as Asa had taken. He was interested in investing in a small brewing company so they became partners and Guelph became the place they wanted to set up the brew pub.
Colton and Asa went on to talk about the beers that they brew. They want to be able to brew different beers for all tastes and palates. One beer they brewed was inside of a massive 350 pound pumpkin. They filled the whole pumpkin and recorded the brewing and put this on YouTube.
The brothers did all the internal design work for the building. The finished building pretty much matches their design concept. However, there were a few “finds” they discovered when the building was being renovated. A lot of relics from building including some old shelving were incorporated into the renovation. In the basement behind a tiled wall they found some old bottles that were enclosed behind the wall and these were from a period of when the Petrie building had been a pharmacy. They are now on display on the old shelves. Above the old drop-down ceiling they found some perfectly preserved crown molding which is now part of a feature of the building. The renovation became a two-and-a-half-year-long restoration project on which the brothers did a lot of the work themselves. The building is now recognized as a historic building.
Pictures of the Petri Building undergoing renovation are on the Club website.
The pub is now open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:00 pm – 1:00 am and Friday to Sunday open from noon to 1:00 am. The pub is a communal space and is not open for lunch or dinner however, they have snacks that are from the local restaurants on rotating basis. They promote buying from the local restaurants downtown.
They make their own beer labels in-house and like to be creative in what goes on them. They try to come out with a new beer and label about once or twice a month. There is a mug-club that is used as a way to help with the financing. You pay $100 for a year and get your own personalized mug that provides for $5 fills of beer.
At the end of Asa and Colton’s presentation, Julian Sale thanked the Proveau brothers and gave them a token of appreciation from the club.
Next Meeting – Thurs. August 9th. – with Barry Kay "Public opinion and elections; the politics of policy-making."