The last few years have really put the importance of supporting local businesses into focus. Even as some of our favourite spots have closed since 2020, we have also seen so many grow and thrive, partly thanks to our own patronage at our favourite spots.
Among these beloved locals is the Great Western Brewing Company, which has been synonymous with “local” since its beginnings.
As the brewery of the Original 16 line of Western Canadian beers — which are ever-popular in their home province of Saskatchewan and right across Western Canada — Great Western prides itself on its tight-knit team, connections to its community, and, of course, its delicious, smooth brews.
The story of Great Western is, at its essence, the story of the hard-working and ambitious prairie underdog. It’s the story of how 16 employees and their families banded together and pooled their life savings to buy a brewery back in 1989. With Molson closing the brewery, over 40 people would’ve otherwise been out of a job.
While current Brewing Manager Devin Sherling wasn’t himself a member of those original 16 — the namesake of the company’s famed beer — he was always inspired by them, himself being a beer lover from Saskatoon.
“The opportunity to work for an independently-owned, Western Canadian company that brews in my hometown was something I could not turn down,” Sherling tells Daily Hive.
“The Original 16 story has always resonated with me: 16 employees going up against the big corporate giant and beating the odds.”
Under the esteemed Original 16 label are a variety of different brews that are sure to satisfy any beer-lover, no matter your tastes. From the classic Canadian Pale Ale, the crisp-tasting 2.5% alc. Canadian Ultra Lager, the malty and smooth Canadian Copper Ale, and the refreshing Belgian-style Prairie White, these beers are perfect for watching the game or gathering with friends at the pub.
“We make great beer and once you try it, you will love it,” Sherling says.
“Saskatchewan is well known for growing and malting the best barley in the world and we keep our barley grown locally. Quality is critically important, and we make great effort to ensure the ingredients are of the best quality, [and] every step in our process is tested to ensure we are making the best beer we can every time.”
He also adds that Great Western Brewing’s superior product is about to get a huge upgrade with the addition of a new, $40 million state-of-the-art brewery in the works in Saskatoon. This will help them stay truly “local,” brew great beer for Western Canadians, and participate in the community — which is what really sets the brand apart.
“We have created true partnerships in every community we develop into,” Sherling says. “We build trusting and personal relationships that make differences in the community.”
Part of this participation is a strong relationship with local sports teams and leagues, from serving local WHL, curling, lacrosse, hockey, and university sports teams, and in 2022, becoming the official beer supplier for the Calgary Sports & Entertainment Group and Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“To be partnered with such a legendary NHL team shows the dedication and passion the entire team [at Great Western Brewing Company] has to making world-class beer.”
“Everyone at Great Western Brewing Company is proud to be a part of the story and it shows in everything we do,” Sherling says. “Once I started here, it became obvious that it is a great company with great people. Being a smaller company, we have a close and tight-knit team. Together we have been able to take any challenge that comes our way and succeed.”
Even as they continue to grow, Great Western Brewing Company will always have Western Canada covered with premium, highly drinkable, balanced beer to celebrate things done well.
If you want to learn more about the brewery and its products, you can visit Great Western Brewing Company’s website, follow them on Instagram, or pick up a can or a pint for yourself at your local alcohol retailer or bar.