Steelback Brewery

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Steelback Brewery
Location Tiverton, Ontario, Canada
Opened 2004
Closed 2010

Steelback Brewery was a Canadian based and owned brewery, located in Tiverton, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Huron.

History[edit]

The start[edit]

Steelback Brewery was started in September, 2002 by Frank D'Angelo while looking for expansion space for his juice company, D'Angelo Brands. [1] He found a site in Tiverton, Ontario, for sale by Barry Sherman, founder of Apotex. The facility came with a brewery which D'Angelo had intended to sell, but ultimately decided to start a beer company with the funding of Barry Sherman. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of D'Angelo Brands.[2]

The company's promotional strategy included extensive sponsorship of sporting events and venues, including purchasing naming rights to the Sauble Speedway in Sauble Beach, several community arenas in Toronto, the Grand Prix of Toronto and sponsorship of a Formula One racing team, as well as the Toronto Argonauts.

In 2006, the company purchased the naming rights to the Steelback Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, the new home of the Ontario Hockey League Sault Greyhounds for $1.35 million over 10 years.[3] The company also explored reviving the defunct Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League, under the new name Ottawa Steelback.[4] There was speculation that the bid to resurrect the Ottawa Renegades was nothing more than a publicity stunt,[5] and the offer was subsequently declined by the CFL.[6]

Citing poor revenue, high marketing costs and the weak Canadian dollar, both the brewery and D'Angelo Brands filed for protection from creditors. Court documents show that Barry Sherman's Wasanda Enterprises Inc. was owed $101,619,464.20.[7][8]

On November 1, 2007, D'Angelo sold his majority stake in Steelback Brewery to Jonathon Sherman (son of Barry). D'Angelo remained as chairman of the company with a minority interest.[9][10] Later in the month, the insolvent company was granted court protection from its creditors.[11]

The relaunch[edit]

In May 2008, Jon Sherman became the official owner and CEO of the new brewery. As part of the overall changes, the new brewery added Ian MacDonald as president and appointed Jayne McGillivray as their brewmaster.[12] Steelback switched gears from the flashy prime time ad campaigns to a more local and minimalist approach though print, radio, and billboard advertisements in five Ontario markets along with their home of Bruce County; the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, London, Hamilton and Windsor.[13]

As part of the relaunch, Steelback felt it was important to pay tribute to its roots in the area of Bruce County, as such a local landmark, the Kincardine lighthouse is featured on new packaging.[14] Packaging was switched from clear plastic bottles to traditional brown bottles, and local ingredients were used when possible,[15] with an aim to provide "craft beer at mainstream prices".[16][17]

Following the relaunch, the company won multiple brewing awards and also was awarded Sobey's Business of the Year Award on March 21, 2009.[18]

The closure[edit]

In July 2009, Ian MacDonald left the brewery. Later in the month, 35 of Steelback's 39 staff members were laid off, leaving a skeleton staff of four to continue producing and selling beer. Sherman cited low sales as the reason for the layoffs.[19]

In January 2010, the remaining staff members were issued letters of termination and the brewery was quietly shut down with no official announcement.[20][21][22][23]

Products[edit]

At the time of closure, Steelback's six beers included Steelback Premium Lager, Steelback Tiverton Honey Brown, Steelback Premium Draught, Steelback Tiverton Dark, and Steelback Light, and only on draught, the Steelback Red Maple.

Awards[edit]

2007 Ontario Brewing Awards

  • HONEY BEER CATEGORY– GOLD MEDAL – Steelback Tiverton Bear Honey Brown
  • DARK LAGER CATEGORY– GOLD MEDAL – Steelback Tiverton Bear Dark Lager
  • LAGER CATEGORY – SILVER MEDAL – Steelback Red
  • LAGER CATEGORY– BRONZE MEDAL – Steelback Silver

2007 Canadian Brewing Awards

  • NORTH AMERICAN STYLE DARK LAGER CATEGORY– GOLD – Steelback Dark Lager
  • HONEY/MAPLE LAGER OR ALE CATEGORY– SILVER – Steelback Honey Brown
  • LIGHT (Calorie Reduced) LAGER CATEGORY – BRONZE – Steelback Light

2008 Ontario Brewing Awards

  • DARK LAGER CATEGORY– GOLD MEDAL – Steelback Tiverton Bear Dark Lager

2009 Ontario Brewing Awards

  • HONEY BEER CATEGORY - GOLD MEDAL - Steelback Red Maple
  • DARK BEER CATEGORY - SILVER MEDAL - Steelback Tiverton Dark

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]