“At a time when we are seeing some craft breweries being
absorbed by large multinationals, keeping Alley Kat in independent
hands was extremely important to us,” he said.
When French and Christensen took over Alley Kat, part of
their business philosophy was not to mess with success. It’s one of
the reasons they decided to keep Neil on the payroll as an advisor
to assist with the ownership transition.
“We didn’t want to just show up and just start changing things.
We told each other that we were going to spend a good chunk
of time just observing and really getting to know the business
and the industry, and why certain things are the way they are,”
“Once we have a good grasp on that, then we can look at
what kind of changes we want to make. We have some ideas in
the back of our head about different things we might want to do
with product line eventually. But we want to be pretty cautious
Six core beer brands
Alley Kat Brewing Company’s line of craft beer includes six core
brands – Aprikat, Full Moon, Scona Gold, Main Squeeze, Fish Bone
and Buena Vista – as well as rotating seasonal brews throughout
Alberta. The brewery recently added a tap room where customers
can sample new craft beer offerings.
“We want to also offer people an interesting variety. Consumers
enjoy sampling new beers, trying something they’ve never heard
of,” said Christensen.
“We offer what we call a Dragon Series, which is a double IPA
that comes out roughly every quarter and features different hops
from around the world,” said French. “We also have a Back Alley
Brews series as well, which is basically for our brewers to have fun
with and create something new and exciting.”
Alley Kat’s latest seasonal offering is a raspberry sour called
RazzyKat. It was introduced this past summer and sales have
been extended because it’s so popular. Working with a Swedish
company that is looking to showcase interesting craft beers from
around the world, French and Christensen have established a deal
that will see some RazzyKat sent to Scandinavia this winter.
Christensen says that opportunities like this are something he
and French intend to keep an eye out for.
“We’re definitely thinking about growth,” he said. “A large
percentage of our business has been in Alberta, but there are
strong craft scenes in many other provinces so we’re definitely
looking at the potential there.”
As Alley Kat continues to grow, the owners say social and
environmental responsibility will always be key aspects of their
“We choose a charity to donate to on a quarterly basis,
something that’s local and aligns with our values,” said Christensen.
“We really enjoy just being a part of the community and doing
everything we can to give back and pay it forward.”
One example was this past summer when Alley Kat chose to
show its support for the Black Lives Matter movement by brewing
a batch of Black is Beautiful beer as part of an international
collaborative campaign aimed at raising awareness about
Participating breweries created their own stout using a base
recipe released by Weathered Souls Brewing, a Black-owned
brewery in San Antonio, Texas. All of the proceeds from Alley Kat’s
sale of Black is Beautiful beer went to the University of Alberta
Black Students’ Association and to Action Dignity, a non-profit
organization in Calgary, Alta., that promotes civic participation
among ethno-cultural communities.
One of the environmental sustainability initiatives at Alley
Kat involves monitoring the amount of water used during the
“We definitely pride ourselves on ensuring that this is as low
as possible,” said Christensen, adding that Alley Kat’s water usage
is “well below the average” compared to other breweries in Alberta.
“We’re always looking at different renewable options that are
out there for us to basically ensure that we are doing our part to be
It was February 2020 when French and Christensen assumed their
new roles at Alley Kat Brewing Company. That, of course, was just
before COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into the global economy.
So, how do French and Christensen feel about their business
Simply put, they have no regrets. While things were a little
touch and go at the start of the pandemic, the young entrepreneurs
were able to adjust on-the-fly to ensure their business didn’t lose
“The timing definitely wasn’t ideal by any stretch,” said
Christensen. “Fortunately, French and I were able to leverage our
business backgrounds to pivot and understand what changes to
make in order to do that.”
One of the changes involved shifting resources from the
licensee side of the business to the retail side to address what was
happening in the marketplace – which meant ensuring Alberta
liquor stores were always fully stocked with Alley Kat products.
“When COVID initially hit, having bars and restaurants shut
down was obviously a hit. Luckily, our business model is such that
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