Adin Wener on the business of craft beer

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Adin Wener, founder of Henderson Brewing Company, to talk about the ins and outs of the craft beer business. 

What’s the business model of a craft brewery?

“For craft breweries, certainly in Ontario, the growth has to be out of your taproom. Your most profitable channel is always selling out of your front door. More and more, that is the survival model, because there's no middleman. Bars and restaurants should represent about 30 to 40% of your mix. Consumers try beers at restaurants and then buy them at retail.”

How do you develop new products to keep people interested?

“When selling through your front door, you can almost go anywhere: We recently took a story about the official food of Toronto, the peameal bacon sandwich, and made a salty beer to go along as a pairing. But if you’re putting a beer into mass production, you think about things like the time of year, and what’s selling. And ask, do you want to be a leader or a follower?” 

Have you seen a trend towards drinking less?

“Yes. The older generation saw Gatorade as a health drink. These days, you have 30 different types of bottled water. There’s an array of health drinks. So maybe you're spending your money on those, and then a couple of beers. Or you're buying alcopops or dipping into wine. The choice and selection now versus what the older generation had is night and day.”

This excerpt has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to the full interview on Free Lunch.