What do you get when you put a lifelong passion for vintage trucks and beer together? If you’re Red Truck Beer Company founder Mark James, you get a brand that’s powerful enough to have thrived for 17 years. What started out as a single brewpub in North Vancouver in 2005 is now a beloved craft brewery with loyal fans spanning BC and Alberta.
“Mark always loved working on trucks and then having a few beers with friends,” says Laura Hamacher, Red Truck’s Director of Marketing. “That was the main inspiration for the brand. Our first customer was the Vancouver Canadiens, and kegs were first delivered to Nat Bailey Stadium in the back of our 1946 Red Dodge pickup truck, Old Weird Harlod.”
From these humble and fun-loving beginnings, the word started to spread. As the craft beer scene grew, Red Truck expanded right alongside it. By 2014, they had fully outgrown their first location and made the move to their current facility in East Vancouver, becoming the fixture of that venerable neighborhood that they are today. In 2019, they launched their ready-to-drink product line and made their debut in liquor stores across BC and Alberta.
“We have a lot of fun making products in this category. We always say that we are a brewery first, but we really love making the ready-to-drink beverages too. This allows for diversity in our portfolio.”
As Red Truck has navigated all of this growth and change, their brand identity—inspired by those truck-and-beer-filled afternoons—has remained strong. The best way the team can describe this identity is that it is “built on the values of a simpler time.”
“The culture of Red Truck is about honesty and simplicity. We talk about the old days of not needing a dictionary to order a drink, of a handshake being a contract. In terms of our beer, we keep our recipes simple, we don’t outsource, and we don’t use preservatives or pasteurization. Over the 17 years we have operated, our goal has always been to build trust in our community and everywhere where we sell our beer that our brews are local, and handcrafted with clean, high-quality ingredients.”
The biggest challenge Red Truck has faced in recent years is the same one all craft breweries have faced: ever-growing and rapidly evolving competition. In this industry, technology and innovation moves at an accelerated clip, and trends constantly come and go.
“We are lucky to be a really agile team with awesome facilities. Everyone acts like an owner and is not afraid to bring ideas to the table. We work together incredibly well and make decisions quickly.”
Part of being an agile team is working with partners who can keep up. Fortunately, Red Truck found a packaging partner who fit the bill in Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC).
“GLBC is a great partner. Sometimes we have big asks that require a turnaround time that really shouldn’t be possible, but GLBC figures out how to do it. They’re also a great resource in helping us learn and understand more about what is possible with our packaging. When we recently launched a product in clear glass bottles, they walked us through what was out there in terms of folding cartons and what would work best.”
Red Truck’s vision going forward is to keep doing what they have been doing: growing and having plenty of fun. As they do, we’ll be along for the ride—and we bet that ride is going to be vintage, boldly coloured, and filled with friends.