What it’s Like to Launch a Brewery in Ontario During a Pandemic
Richard Wood has quickly created one of the Kawarthas’ most-beloved craft breweries.
The current President and Co-Founder of Bobcaygeon Brewing Company, who has a Masters of Applied Science from Queen’s University, has also seen quite more in 12 months since opening his breweries new Peterborough location, then some breweries see in three years.
Richard, who also has a Bachelor of Engineering from Queen’s, says that’s
Below is our Q&A catch-up with Richard (while he catches his breathe between home deliveries and new beer launches):
PKED: Why did you choose to open up a location in Peterborough?
Richard: We were excited to open up in Peterborough due to the close distance to our operations under development in Bobcaygeon and the new market that would be available to us. Bobcaygeon is a bit of a drive from Peterborough and the eastern part of the Kawarthas, so with our location in Peterborough we are able to better serve local residents and cottagers.
PKED: When did you first open and what was the response like pre-COVID-19?
Richard: We opened in Peterborough in June 2019 and the reception had been great pre-COVID. Our taproom was getting busier and busier as people learned about our new location.
PKED: What has it been like trying to get the Peterborough brewery up and running and having a pandemic thrown into the mix?
Richard: We were fortunate that the pandemic started during our slow season so we had more time and capacity to adapt our business model. It was still a sudden shift in our production needs and lines of business however our team was able to adapt quickly and adjust to the new normal.
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PKED: How you have had to pivot your business plan since COVID-19?
Richard: Launching our online store was the biggest change. Pretty soon after shut down occurred we began selling beer in our online store and launched free home delivery in the County of Peterborough as well as the City of Kawartha Lakes. As well, the closure of bars and restaurants led us having to shift our production mix away from draught beer to cans and bottles.
PKED: What are some small wins/big victories that you’ve had as a business through this?
Richard: I am most proud with how our team was able to adapt to the shift to online sales for delivery and curbside pick up. This program replaced the volumes we lost from the lines of business we were forced to close, namely our taproom and sales to bars and restaurants.
PKED: Has your business model shifted because of COVID-19 and will you be carrying over any changes post-COVID?
Richard: Most definitely, online beer sales were new to us and it has greatly exceeded our expectations.
PKED: What new brews are you working on, and what are you releasing publicly over the summer?
Richard: We release new beers almost every week! We recently brought back our extremely popular Starry Night Chocolate Stout, and we participated in the Black is Beautiful world-wide collaboration – look for our version in the coming weeks.
PKED: How have you been using ecommerce to keep up with demand through the pandemic?
Richard: E-commerce has been very valuable to us, and allowed us to keep the lights on during the pandemic. We were fortunate to have great support from the community and we thank them for supporting all local small businesses such as our own.
PKED: Any final thoughts for readers?
Richard: Curbside pick up 12-5 every day and free home delivery on orders over 50 Wed-Sat.