THE WAKKER WEEKLY
Issue #1500 – Posted on: 28-Oct-2019
Welcome to a special milestone edition of the Wakker Weekly newsletter! Our very first weekly newsletter was published on February 4, 1991. Back then our newsletter was mainly distributed by fax and was called The Bushfax. A number of years later it became The Bushwakker Picayune and finally the current newsletter name was adopted, The Wakker Weekly. Our newsletter is still made available in hard copy and is available at our front counter. The majority of our 1200 subscribers receive their weekly Bushwakker news via email. We would be remiss if we didn’t remind our hard copy readers that you can register to receive our weekly newsletter by visiting our website homepage at www.bushwakker.com.
Our weekly newsletter has certainly evolved since its humble beginnings of being composed on company letterhead using a typewriter. Although our weekly food offerings have become much more interesting, they still maintain their bistro quality/ pub fare/comfort food roots. The number of Bushwakker beers available has increased 10 times over and we also now have the opportunity to embrace the products available from other Saskatchewan craft breweries and distilleries which simply did not exist at the advent of the grunge music movement. Our number of regular music events and special events continues to grow but the signature Bushwakker events such as the Annual Single Malt Scotch Tasting, Brewer’s Dinner, Blackberry Mead Release, First Firkin Friday and Robbie Burns Night will always remain.
The late Bushwakker co-founder and president, Dr. Bev Robertson, always maintained that in addition to providing quality food, beer and service in a welcoming atmosphere, a successful business is one which embraces, celebrates and gives back to the community it serves. We do love our city and province and enjoy sharing the talents of many members of our local arts community.
As you read this 1500th milestone edition, we would like to take this opportunity to offer our sincere gratitude for your almost three decades of incredible and enthusiastic support. We would not be here today if it were not for your loyal patronage. We are very proud to be a Saskatchewan craft beer pioneer and to have served as inspiration to others to pursue their dreams of opening their own craft brewery or distillery. This makes our province a better place to work and live, enhances our tourism industry and local economy as well as increases the pride we have in our own community.
NEWS FROM THE BREWERY! Head brewer, Michael Gaetz, reports our seasonally available UNRELIABLE NARRATOR IRISH WHISKEY & HEMP BROWN ALE, GREAT PUMPKIN SPICED BROWN ALE, BLOOD ORANGE BLONDE, GRANNY’S BITTER, BREW N’ GOLD DORTMUNDER EXPORT LAGER, MOTHERWELL BARNSTORMER RED FIFE WITBIER and FAFARD’S SQUIRREL ALE are currently on tap. There are also batches of ARCTIC DARK MUNICH DUNKEL, KAI’S MUNICH HELLES, UPENDI PINEAPPLE PASSIONFRUIT BLONDE ALE, HARVEST LAGER and MISSILETOW ALE working their way through the brewery.
Our October Premium Wine Features are the DIABOLICA WINES from B.C. The red is a Merlot/Petit Verdot/Shiraz blend and the white is a Pinot Gris/Chardonnay. Both are $7.95 for a glass and $21.95 for a half litre.
Chef Mike’s famous low and slow prime rib dinners returned last weekend and were a huge hit. Our Bushwakker PRIME RIB WEEKENDS will be offered every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the next few months. Topped with rosemary red wine au jus and served with Jumbo Yorkshire Pudding, veggies and potatoes. Available in both an eight ounce and ten ounce cut.
Bushwakker Brewpub’s Writers Corner Seeks Books! Our 4rd Edition Writers Corner Launch will take place on Saturday, November 9 at 3:00 PM. We are seeking donations of recent publications (2017-2019 publication dates) from Saskatchewan authors (all genres) to help expand our library within the Writers Corner. The goal is to gradually increase the size of the library each year. More book shelves will be installed as the number of books increases. The books in the corner library will be available for patrons interested in reading works by local authors and the books are to remain in the brewpub at all times. To be considered for the library, books must be a minimum of 40 pages and professionally bound. Please drop off a copy of your recently published book (along with purchasing information which can be shared with brewpub patrons) to Grant Frew at Bushwakker. You can email Grant at email@example.com. Rotating individual author biographies and brief book synopsis are featured in the brewpub’s weekly newsletter and social media channels on a regular basis.
THE BUSHWAKKER GOODNESS IS SPREADING! ALL SIX REGINA SLGA stores are now offering a varied selection of Bushwakker beers in 650ml bottles. The Quance street SLGA store is also offering growler fills of our number one selling DUNGARVON IRISH RED ALE. Regina’s Urban Cellars east location and Metro Liquor also offer a selection of our bottled beers.
Oct. 26: THE 2019 NHL HERITAGE CLASSIC. The Winnipeg Jets play host to the Calgary Flames at Mosaic Stadium. This will be the first NHL regular season outdoor game that will be held in a neutral site territory that is not formally part of an NHL market, the first regular season game held in Regina, and the first regular season game held in Saskatchewan since 1994. Come enjoy our game day gourmet Rink Burger & a Pint specials. Choose from either our Jets Burger or Flames Burger with any regular Bushwakker pint for only $19.95. May the best burger win!
Oct. 27: TICKETS TO OUR NOVEMBER 23rd SINGLE MALT SCOTCH TASTING EVENT GO ON SALE AT NOON TODAY! This year’s special order single malts include: Glenmorangie Spios rye cask, Arran Marsala cask finish, Kilkerran 12 year Campbelton, Tomatin 18 year, Auchentoshan 21 year and Bruichladdich Octomore 9.1. Performances from The Regina Highland Dance Association and The Regina Police Services Pipes & Drums. 150 tickets will be made available at $89.95 each. Last year 120 tickets sold in only 23 minutes! Be sure to arrive early to ensure you get your tickets. A special Glenfarclas Berkshire Pork Loin Chop Dinner Feature will also be available as a dining choice prior to the event that evening.
Oct. 28: Monday Night Jazz & Blues. ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT. Veteran Regina act delivers fine jazz standards. 8:00 PM.
Oct. 30: Wednesday Night Folk. BRADFORD. Talented acoustic folk duo featuring Brad Papp and Mark Radford. 8:00 PM.
Oct. 31: ANNUAL BUSHWAKKER CELTIC HALLOWE’EN PARTY. The big night falls on a Thursday this year! Win a $100 Bushwakker gift card in our costume contest. Enjoy our Great Pumpkin Spiced Brown Ale, devilishly delicious food specials and great live music from one of Saskatchewan’s most energetic and danceable Celtic bands, THE TILTED KILTS! $5 cover charge in effect. Show starts at 8:00 PM and concludes at midnight. Costume contest is at 9:30 PM.
Nov. 1: FIRST FIRKIN FRIDAY. A decades-old Bushwakker tradition! A piper from the Regina Police Services Pipes & Drums leads a keg of special brew in a procession throughout the brewpub. A guest volunteer is selected to wield the handmade wooden maul affectionately referred to as “The Mighty Firkin Wakker,” and attempt to tap the firkin in one mighty blow. Hopheads rejoice! This month’s firkin offering will be a Fresh Cascade Dry-Hopped Harvest Lager. The delicious suds-soaking experience takes place at 5:30 PM.
Nov. 2: RIDERS VS. ESKIMOS. The final regular home game of the season starts at 2:00 PM. We open at 11:00 AM. Enjoy our gourmet EDMONTON BURGER & A PINT special all day or all night. Come join the Sea of Green and come “devour” the competition!
Nov. 4: Monday Night Jazz & Blues. BILLY HUGHES & THE INSTIGATORS. Rockin’ blues band will take you back to the days of the Plains Hotel Saturday Afternoon Jams. 8:00 PM.
Nov. 6: Wednesday Night Folk. JAMES IRVING. Nickletree frontman delivers a solo acoustic folk rock show. 8:00 PM.
By Jason Foster
Recently I offered some thoughts about what breweries could learn from those that came before and failed. I offered up 8 lessons to learn (there may be others, this was just a start).
That post got me thinking about what it takes to succeed (rather than not fail). One of the comments to the post suggested I should highlight breweries that are “doing it right”. While a good suggestion, I am not sure I want to point to specific breweries. Rather, I got thinking about a piece that explored the business models that seem like they have potential.
Of course this is a dynamic, rapidly changing industry, and so what model might work now may not work in a few years. So take that caveat to heart.
What I have noticed is that there has been a noted increase in the number of plausible business models in the industry. In the 1990s, the only model that worked on the prairies was the so-called Alley Kat/Wildrose/Brewsters Model. Offer four or five core beer, including a blonde ale/lager, a brown ale, a hoppy offering and, of course, a fruit beer or two. The fruit beer became, inevitably, the most popular beer and kept the lights on, while reputations were built on the other offerings.
But things are different today. I believe there a few ways to make a living brewing beer in this region. Below are my initial thoughts on what those models are. I reserve the right to amend and update this list as I consider things further. Factors I considered include the approach to the beer (styles, core line-up, rotational, etc.), brewery size, target market, scale of distribution, and revenue sources. I did not consider aspects that I consider marketing, such a labels, overall branding, strategies for attracting business (live music, promotions, hosting events, etc.), and so on.
Also, I fully recognize anytime you try to create a taxonomy, you necessarily over-simplify. So take that caveat as well. Finally, I, for the moment, am excluding contract brewing and the options it provides. That is a huge complicating factor that I will try to address at some point in the future.
Model #1: The 1990s Approach
I mentioned this model above. Today’s well-established brands in the region built their business by leveraging local and offering beer that would appeal to consumers not familiar with craft beer. The 1990s was a slight tweak on the 1980s – aka Big Rock – Model. It clearly still works as those breweries are still going strong.
I am less convinced a new brewery could open with that specific model, but with some tweaks (see below) it is still a very viable approach.
Strengths: Offers an accessible gateway offering to introduce craft beer while still providing something for a wide range of consumers, including more serious craft fans. Creates space to build a lasting brand. Flagships create the cash flow to allow for some limited experimentation.
Weaknesses: Likely works better in a less-crowded market. The appeal of light-bodied beer and fruit beer remains undeniably high, but does a flagship of that nature allow a brewery to stand out anymore? Requires a patience that may not be possible in this fast-moving industry.
Model #2: Broad Appeal Production Brewery
Retail distribution comes with its own set of challenges.
This is one of the tweaks on Model #1. Here we are looking at a brewery that builds slightly larger with the goal of broader distribution. They provide, like Model #1, a range of styles with an eye toward approachability and appealing to a broad audience. They are large enough that provincial and regional distribution is necessary or at least a medium term goal.
Strengths: Can create deeper and broader brand awareness for longer term stability. With appropriate support can sell more beer and take advantage of production efficiencies. Ability to build upon early positive reputations and successes.
Weaknesses: Requires significant capital input upfront, with the flipside of having potentially impatient investors. In a crowded and dynamic market, growth can be slower than anticipated, creating cash flow problems. Mistakes or poor quality product can be particularly damaging to reputation and, therefore, prospects.
Model #3: Multi-Segment Production Brewery
This may be the trickiest model to stick the landing. The design is to build a production brewery (i.e., focused on retail sales), but attempt to extend the boundaries of what production breweries produce. The beer style selection is a bit edgier, the choice of core brands less expected, but there remains a commitment to broad appeal. These breweries will have an anchor that is an accessible option, but likely not a fruit beer. That core beer will be accompanied by other beer that push the production envelope somewhat, stylistically. More out-there styles will populate the rotational list. The goal remains a slightly larger distribution, but “in their own way”.
Strengths: In a way gets the best of both worlds. You get to develop a reputation for quality, innovative beer while also selling decent volumes of beer. Large enough capacity to meet demand but small enough to remain nimble.
Weaknesses: Quality is everything here. If you fail to build a reputation for quality product, you won’t create the buzz or move the volumes that you need. Access to capital and cash flow can be a challenge in the early days. Generally a bit of a high wire act.
Model #4: Tap Room Brewery
At the opposite end of the scale is the small brewery that sells most of its beer directly from its tap room. Brewhouse size tends to be smaller and location, while still important, is less crucial than some models (see below). The goal is to build a small, loyal customer base who connect with the story, the local angle and the feeling of being a trailblazer. The model takes advantage of the higher margins that come with selling your beer at retail prices without distribution and other costs.
Strengths: Lower upfront capital and ongoing operating costs. Can take advantage of micro-marketing to hit desired target markets (geographically, demographically, etc.). More opportunity to experiment and offer innovative styles. Also more space for quality variability due to the smaller, more loyal fan base.
Weaknesses: Limits to growth and revenue generation. Less ability to respond to market demand if something is successful. Limited capacity for broader reach or brand development. Small size means more vulnerability to market fluctuations and/or internal challenges.
Model #5: Small, Local Brewery
This model takes the tap room model up a notch. Much, if not a majority, of sales still come from the tap room, but there is an added interest in some local distribution. The brewhouse is still fairly small, but they add a packaging line and push keg sales more. The intention is to distribute only in the local community and environs but the model offers a bit of a hybrid. The importance of the accessible anchor increases but there is still plenty of space for experimentation. Profile is a bit higher but remains a local story.
Strengths: More opportunity to build the brand locally. Creation of multiple revenue sources and some limited opportunity to grow. Retains local story and appeal for those interested in that niche, while broadening the overall audience. Anchor brand can be more innovative or edgy.
Weaknesses: A bit more capital commitment upfront. Need to sell to off-site clients without the size or resources of larger breweries. Limited ability to meet successful market demand. Division of resources and attention. Increased need to have a noticeable anchor brand.
Model #6: Push the Boundaries Brewery
A push the boundaries brewery needs a mad scientist persona
This model may not be a full-fledged model (I can’t decide), but it is a conscious business approach taken by some breweries. So for now I will leave it as its own model.
The crux here is that the brewery intentionally leads with ambitious, edgy styles and approaches to styles. The aim is to build a reputation among craft beer aficionados as being a brewery for them. Obviously quality of the product is essential, but so is creativity, being on top of trends and innovations, and a panache at niche marketing. The size of the brewery can vary (which is why I am not sure it is a full model), but generally goes beyond a taproom-only brewery with a component of packaging and distribution.
Strengths: Can play in the “deep end” of beer styles. Offers room for mixing up offerings and thus less reliant on a core beer. Once reputation is established, gives room for a higher price point and, therefore, higher margins.
Weaknesses: Less ability to appeal to a broader audience (although that may be changing over time), limited market penetration potential. Highly dependent upon consistently offering quality AND creativity.
Model #7: Brewery with a Restaurant/Restaurant with a Brewery
Attaching a restaurant to a brewery adds to the complications.
My last model is quite different, and highly recognizable. Here I would include the classic brewpub, but also those breweries that have some distribution but anchor the business around the restaurant. The key here is that we are talking about more than a tap room with a kitchen offering paninis, pizza or other lighter fare. The core of this model is a full service restaurant with a full menu, broad range of drink options and an attention to food in addition to beer. These breweries are part of the restaurant industry, which is a notoriously difficult and complex business to be in. Thus a whole other set of skills and knowledge is needed.
Strengths: Multiple avenues for promotion of the brand (via beer, food, atmosphere, etc.). Create a home base for sale of beer (at retail prices). Can provide a full-range entertainment experience.
Weaknesses: Fully engaged in the challenging restaurant industry, complete with its additional staffing requirements, complex planning, capital and operating needs, etc. Brewery reputation becomes dependent upon food quality and overall customer experience – things not related to beer itself.
So, for the moment, I have identified seven distinct business models. I recognize that life is more complex than theory. As I tested the models by trying to classify breweries I know, some breweries didn’t quite fit, or could reasonably be slotted in more than one. I don’t think that is a weakness of my taxonomy, but a recognition that the industry is increasingly complex. However, I still think that if we strip each brewery down to its core approach, they fit into one of these models.
In which model does your favourite brewery fall?
Am I missing a model? Am I completely out to lunch? Distinct possibilities.
A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband, “You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in the Holy Land, for $150.” The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home. The undertaker asked, “Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?” The man replied, “Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance.”
Our Oct. 25th-27th Weekend Special: Prime Rib & Giant Yorkie. 8 oz – $23.95 & 10 oz – $27.95
Soup & Sandwich Special is $13.95. All hot specials are $16.95, except where noted, & include a serving of soup du jour, house, or Caesar salad.
Fri., Oct. 25
Roasted Butternut Squash
Roast Beef & Cheddar on French
Sirloin Steak w/ Beer Jus & Garlic Mashed Potato. $17.95
Sat., Oct. 26 &
Sun., Oct. 27
Burger & a Pint. $19.95
Steak & a Pint. $21.95
Mon., Oct. 28
Ham & Asparagus Melt
Smoked Salmon Fettucine w/ Bacon Lardons
Tues., Oct. 29
Chicken & Feta Calzone
Beef Bordelaise Bread Bowl
Dungarvon Irish Red Ale
Wed., Oct. 30
Chicken Florentine w/ Red Wine Sauce
Blood Orange Blonde
Thur., Oct. 31
Pulled Pork Bun
Porter BBQ Beef Ribs w/ Steak Fries
Sodbuster Brown Ale
Fri., Nov. 1
Honey Sriracha Baked Salmon w/ Zucchini Salad
Sat., Nov. 2 &
Sun., Nov. 3
Burger & a Pint. $19.95
Steak & a Pint. $21.95
We strive to ensure all weekly specials and soups are made available. Product shortages or unforeseen circumstances may result in modification or even substitution of certain featured menu items.