Saskatoon's Great Western Brewery marks 25th anniversary

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Great Western Brewery.

Four of original 16 founders still brewing

Ian Senterre, left, and Bill McLeod toast a quarter-century of brewing success. (CBC)

They chose door number three, and never looked back.

It was 25 years ago when a group of employees at Molson Brewing in Saskatoon faced a tough decision. The company was closing its Saskatoon plant, and the workers could either transfer to another city or be out of a job.

Sixteen of the workers decided on a third option.

They bought the plant and formed Great Western Brewing. A quarter of a century later, four of the original 16 are still working at the plant on 2nd Avenue North.

Four of the original 16 founders of Great Western Brewery are still working at the plant today. (Great Western Brewing)
The brewery dates back to 1927, when it was Hub City Brewing Company. Then it became O'Keefe, Carling O'Keefe and then Molson.

It's now one of the largest regional brewers in western Canada, and it has ten per cent of the Saskatchewan market.

Ian Senterre works on the brewing side.

He said that one of the early challenges was to get people to try their product.

"Change. People, they're in a mode where they've always bought X-brand, whatever it is, and carry on doing that, you've got to change peoples' mindset sometimes just to buy local," he said.

The company launched an aggressive marketing campaign locally to get its name out there.

"I think everyone in Saskatoon had a t-shirt," said Bill McLeod.