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Great Western Brewing Company

Don Elash, one of Great Western Brewing Company’s original shareholders, 1990.
Regina Leader-Post

The Great Western Brewing Company, located in Saskatoon, is Saskatchewan’s sole continuing provincial brewing company. It was opened in 1928 by Hub City Brewing, and was later sold to Carling O’Keefe. Molson’s took over the company as part of a merger with Carling O’Keefe in 1988, and decided to close the plant. A group of sixteen employees and management were determined to keep the brewery open; with assistance from the government, the employees (who acquired 80% of the equity) bought the facility and its assets from Molson in late 1989, and renamed the company the Great Western Brewing Company. In August 2002, Crown Investments Corporation (CIC) sold its interest in Great Western Brewing Company to three private investors for $4 million. The sixteen founding shareholders maintained a 20% share of the company and were given the option to maintain, increase, or sell their shares. Shares were also offered to employees who were not current shareholders. The company currently has 80 employees, and markets beer throughout western Canada.

Great Western started with two initial brands, and expanded by 2004 to include eleven different brand names. The company has contracts with various marketers to produce beer and other beverages in the facility, and also sells other company’s product lines for a commission. Great Western Brewery has been the recipient of a range of entrepreneurial and product awards, including the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Year” and “New Venture Awards” in 1991. The company has also won awards for its varieties of beer: Western Premium Light was a Gold Medal winner at the Midwest Brewers Festival in 1999 and a Bronze Winner at the 2000 World Beer Cup; Western Premium Lager was a Gold Medal winner at the Midwest Brewers Festival in 2000, and a 2001 Gold Medal winner at the Monde Selection in Belgium.

Jessica Pothier

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