F E AT U R E
McVicker and Larochelle have been in the pickling business
in Ontario since the early 2000s, and offer several pickled prod-ucts
like The Extreme Bean, The Asparagoos, The Extreme Pickle
Spears and cocktail glass rimmers that cater to Caesar drinkers.
They decided to offer their own Ceasar beverage under the Matt
& Steve’s brand in the spring of 2020 because of the popularity of
their pickled garnishes.
That, of course, was just when the Covid-19 pandemic was
picking up steam, which McVicker acknowledges wasn’t the best
time to introduce a brand-new beverage.
“It was challenging. We always want to get in front of people
and have them sample our product, so we had about 40 or 45
events planned over the summertime. Obviously, that went away,”
“It’s a very competitive category, so we had to figure out how to
quickly pivot and get people interested in our Caesar. We turned to
social media and then just tried to promote it as much as we could
through that. That was really our only channel because we really
couldn’t do anything else.”
McVicker says that despite the challenges, sales of Matt &
Steve’s Caesar have been very good.
“We were very happy with our first year,” he said, adding the
product was initially launched in Ontario, and their market has
expanded to include Alberta, B.C., Quebec, and New Brunswick.
“I think it would have been even more successful if we could
have got our Caesar sampled even more because I believe we have
a great liquid. We want to convert as many people as we can to the
brand, but it’s just going to take some time.”
McVicker says with spring and summer being the peak
seasons for RTD canned cocktails, his business has kicked into
high gear to increase the reach of Matt & Steve’s products. The
company has added to its original lightly spiced Caesar with a
second hot and spicy Caesar offering.
Although McVicker and Larochelle aren’t sure when they’ll be
able to get back to in-person tastings, in the meantime, they are
pulling out the stops on social media to promote their beverage
brand. This includes a new video that recounts the multi-year
journey by the pair to perfect what they consider the ideal Caesar.
“We’ve been crisscrossing the country for 15 years getting
people’s feedback, first with our garnishes and now our beverage,”
said McVicker. “It’s been all about making the best Caesar, so
we definitely have credibility to play in the space. I think that’s
definitely one of the things that attributed to our first-year success.”
Original 16 Hard Seltzers
The Great Western Brewing Company based in Saskatoon, Sask.,
is one of the largest regional breweries in Western Canada. The
company’s roots go back almost 100 years, but that doesn’t mean
its reluctant to try some something new.
Case in point is Great Western’s new Original 16 Hard Seltzers
– the company’s first foray outside of beer. Peach and Lemon/
Saskatoon Berry were the first two flavours, which came out in
July 2020. A third flavour, Cranberry, was launched last November
and then a fourth one, Mixed Berry, was introduced in March of
Michael Brennan, the president and CEO of Great Western
Brewing Company, says the company was inspired to launch a
new line of vodka seltzers under the Original 16 brand after some
consumer research and talking to customers.
He says Great Western has a strong following of customers in
Saskatchewan and across Western Canada who know and love the
company’s Original 16 line of beers, so it made sense to extend the
name to the RTD seltzers.
“Hard seltzers are growing dramatically across North America,
and we wanted to make sure that we were offering our customers
an opportunity to stay with us as a company,” said Brennan. “We’re
proud of our western heritage. We work with a distiller out of
Saskatchewan to source the vodka and we’re using local Western
Canadian ingredients throughout the process.”
The Original 16 Hard Seltzers, Brennan says, have been a “fan-tastic
“We’ve seen growth each time we’ve brought out new product,”
he said. “These are great tasting drinks. I love them. I love beer, but
there are times when a flavoured hard seltzer is a fantastic option
Brennan believes Great Western’s new mix pack, combining
all four vodka seltzer flavours, will be a huge hit come summertime.
“Certainly, consumption of seltzers and that type of a product
goes up at that time, and I think we can catch the wave again this
summer,” he said. “I’m expecting to see pretty significant growth.”
Matt Larochelle and Steve McVicker
Photo courtesy of Matt and Steve’s
Photo courtesy of Great Western Brewing Company
24 § POURED CANADA § www.poured.ca