“Senterre loves what he does, and he’s a valuable member
of our team. I haven’t asked him when he’s retiring because
sometimes you don’t want to know the answer to those questions,”
Brennan says the fledgling brewery took some interesting
turns during its early days in business.
“March 26, 1990, is the day the first bottles at Great Western
came off the line. There was some early success with folks in the
province wanting to support a local brewery, and along the way
there were a few bumps in the road,” Brennan said.
“We went through a glass shortage at one point early on,
where literally all the employees were going out to liquor stores
and encouraging people to return their empty bottles so that we’d
have enough bottles to produce the beer.”
Brennan says that bottle shortage actually spurred the
brewery to add a canning line for its products in 1990. With
consumer preferences changing from bottles to cans in the
30-plus years since then, there are very few bottled beers coming
off the production line nowadays.
“Last year, one per cent of our production was in bottles,
and this year it’s likely to be zero,” said Brennan, adding that the
brewery now sells just over 40 million cans of beer annually.
Brennan says a few years into Great Western’s journey,
three prominent members of the Saskatoon business community
B R E W E RY P R O F I L E
stepped in when the brewery was on shaky ground financially.
They continue to have an ownership stake in the company, with
the remaining shares belonging to Original 16 members, their
families and employees of the brewery.
Impact of the pandemic
Great Western Brewing Company beer is available across the
four western provinces and is distributed through Brewers
Distribution Ltd. in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba, and
currently through ContainerWorld in British Columbia.
Brennan says a portion of Great Western’s sales is with bars
and restaurants, so Covid-19 has been a hit to that side of the
business. However, retail sales have shown significant growth,
thanks in part to the proliferation of delivery services and apps
during the pandemic.
“Obviously, consumers still like to have a cold beer, even
though they may be doing it over a Zoom call with their friends,
so we’re pleased that they’re picking us up on the retail side,”
In addition to its Original 16 brews, Great Western Brewing
Company offers 10 other beers catering to different segments of
the beer market under its Great Western, Brewhouse, Gold Strong
and Olympia brands. Last year, the brewery also got into the
Photo courtesy of Great Western Brewing Company
SUMMER 2021 § POURED CANADA § 15