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Steam Whistle Brewing: Whistle while you drink

October 20, 2008 by  
Filed under Success Story


For the makers of Steam Whistle Brewing, success is a microbrewery built on traditional values, environmentally friendly ethics, the hiring of passionate Canadians, and customer satisfaction.

It was a simpler time. Well-built cars rarely broke down. Milk was delivered right to your doorstep. Kids played with their hula hoops and Frisbees at family picnics. For many people, the 1950s were an era of principle, integrity and trust – just what the makers of Steam Whistle Brewing are all about.

The refreshing, brightly golden, premium pilsner is the only product made by Steam Whistle since it’s founding in 2000.

“Our motto is to make one beer, really well,” says co-founder Greg Taylor. With the company’s mission to make Steam Whistle the most popular premium beer in Canada in the future, a single focus on quality is brewtally important. “When a consumer has $40 to spend on a premium beer, we’re competing with companies from all over the world, so we have to provide guaranteed value at the premium price.”

Dating back a decade ago, the idea for Steam Whistle was born out of a canoe trip in northern Ontario. Taylor and his two friends, Cam Heaps and Greg Cromwell, were former employees of the Upper Canada Brewing Company, until it was bought out and closed. “We all got together around the fireplace late one night, and realized we missed the fun we used to have,” says Taylor. So, the “The Three Fired Guys” decided to start a brewery, and a place people could really enjoy visiting.

Today, employing just over 100 workers, Steam Whistle sells more premium beer than all other microbreweries in Ontario, combined. The Toronto-based company produces 11,000 bottles per hour, amounting to 110,000 bottles daily. A destination spot for many tourists, the brewery receives up to 70,000 visitors tasting beer and touring the property annually. Steam Whistle caters to all sorts of people, with one thing in common: an appreciation for quality.

“It’s a broad demographic,” says Taylor, who takes care of sales and advertising. “We have customers in university, both students and professors. There are people on Queen Street who enjoy alternative lifestyles, and enjoy Steam Whistle because we’re independent and our beer is all natural. People working in the financial districts like it because it’s a premium product. And environmentalists are attracted because we’re Earth-friendly.”

Steam Whistle’s bottle reflects a conscientious shade of green. Everything at the brewery gets recycled, including the caps. Beer-savvy enthusiasts drink from the company’s imitation plastic cups – 100 per cent biodegradable, made from cornstarch. One of the biggest environmental initiatives comes from Steam Whistle’s supply of Bullfrog Power, an Ontario power company using only green supplies of energy. “We pay an additional 25 per cent for green sources of power, generated from windmills, water dams, and solar panels,” Taylor admits. “We’re all citizens of the planet, and we need to make sure we do whatever we can to preserve it.”

Not only is Steam Whistle considerate about the Earth, it also cares about its people. Last year, the company won the Immigrant Success Award, recognizing employers in the Toronto region who recruit and promote skilled immigrants in the workplace. “We’re not interested in hiring someone with a particular ethnic background, but just people who are passionate about what they do, who are driven to succeed,” Taylor says. “New Canadians, who have left their country and family, are often very dedicated workers and take work quite seriously. Regardless of who you are, if you come here and work in that manner, you’re going to be successful and we’re going to promote you.”

The brewery’s respected philosophy and work ethic has earned Steam Whistle a number of awards. NOW Magazine recently named the company Most Popular Microbrewery in Toronto, and in 2007, Steam Whistle took home gold in the pilsner category of the Ontario Brewing Awards. Steam Whistle’s brewmaster Marek Mikunda, who hails from the birthplace of pilsners, Czech Republic, accepted the award. For Canadian beer drinkers who can’t try the premium pilsner on a brewery tour, the beer is available in Alberta, and soon in British Columbia and Quebec. Whether celebrating an achievement, recognizing a job-well-done, or sitting around the campfire, Steam Whistle is the reward at the end of your day.


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