Common Crown Brewing Co. Co-Founder Andrew Moreau is reflecting on the wild ride the last few months have been for the Calgary-based brewery. And he sounds like his sense of positivity is well-intact.
“It’s been magical to observe how entrepreneurs have responded to the pandemic,” he says. “They had to overcome the same anxieties as everybody else and still have the bandwidth left to be creative.”
Andrew is quick to talk about the creativity of his fellow business-owners in Calgary, but his team has been every bit as effective. When COVID-19 shut down the global economy, Common Crown Brewing swiftly went into action. It was clear their taproom would be closed indefinitely, and business needed to move online.
“Right away, we talked about ‘Project Beer Run’. Our whole thing is to be social and maintain community, so how could we offer safe home delivery with a personal touch? In just under 24 hours and many pots of coffee, we had our website up, processes written, and an idea to include handwritten thank you notes with our contact-less deliveries.”
Even though Project Beer Run is up and running, it remains a strange time to be such a “social business”, as Andrew puts it. Still, the company is well aware that the choices they make today have the power to impact their community in a positive way. That’s why they’re partnering with small businesses to highlight their work. Common Crown believes focusing on “hyper-local relationships” is key to rebuilding the economy.
Andrew gives an example: “There is a company called Rusted Petal that had a fantastic idea. They run workshops for people to make things with their hands, benches and things like that. They opened the same week the shutdown started, so they needed to pivot into offering packages of materials for people to make things at home. We’re putting out a Father’s Day beer in a 4-pack holder made by them so that we can promote their business.”
Andrew knows that “local” can be an over-used and empty term, but for Common Crown, it’s a legitimate passion. That might be, in part, because the company started four years ago as a family affair, a “side project that was meant to just be fun, but became a whole lot more.”
Andrew’s twin brother and co-founder Damon Moreau had been working in the film and television industry and was ready for a change. He used to tell Andrew how he wished he could find something he was as passionate about as film. But Andrew knew that Damon frequented the U-brews in Vancouver whenever he was in town for a production.
“So, when brewing regulations changed in Alberta, Bob and I talked Damon into becoming an entrepreneur with us.” He laughs. “It’s funny how you say ‘We’ll never do a start-up again’, but as soon as beer is involved, it becomes a good idea.”
The road to establishing a sustainable business was a roller coaster for the three partners, as it always is. Most significantly, the craft beer boom that occurred in Alberta produced an overwhelming amount of competition. But Common Crown simply focused on their “fundamentals”: making approachable beer to introduce a burgeoning but brand-new audience to the pleasures of drinking quality craft.
During these years of establishing their business, Great Little Box Company became, as Andrew puts it, “not just a packaging supplier, but a partner.” The perks of working with GLBC? “It’s not just the service, the quick turnaround, the ability to react well to our craziness. It’s about their knowledge of what we do and how to get the best bang for our buck.” For example, Andrew says GLBC’s advice to create metallic labels that “pop off the shelves” was a winning factor in their fight to differentiate.
Companies that truly make the term “local” meaningful are precious, in our books. Calgarians, check out Common Crown’s Beer Run—but look forward to the day you can connect with these great people in their taproom again.