Our story starts in 1993, when the Alberta Government was progressive enough to privatize the retail liquor industry in Alberta. Overnight the liquor industry was changed where small and private businesses were able to open retail liquor stores throughout the province. Also entrepreneurs and companies like us could introduce products into the province of Alberta as long as we took all the risks and met all the provincial regulations and paid all the taxes and mark-ups. This is in contrast to most other provinces, where to this day, government appointed tasting panels decide what products are available for sale in those provinces. Of course this poses an extremely large barrier for small companies entering the liquor industry to succeed. In other words, welcome to the great Alberta advantage!
We, Manjit and Ravinder (siblings) are Petroleum Engineers by profession, were born and raised in Calgary and still call Calgary home.
My older sister Manjit (age 19 at the time) and I, Ravinder, at the age of 18 decided to start a company called Mountain Crest Liquors Inc. (MCLI). The mandate of Mountain Crest Liquors was to bring design, create recipes, and market high quality premium liquor and sell them at a discounted price in Alberta. We started with rum, rye, gin, blended scotch and vodka. Things went well for us but our big break came when Tequila prices in Canada sky-rocketed due to a ‘so-called’ blue agave shortage in Mexico (the main ingredient in making tequila). We quickly secured a supply of tequila at an amazing price and gained a large market share of the Tequila business in Alberta.
The Liquor business was great but our dream, and the engineers in us, wanted us to be in the beer business, so in 2002 we incorporated a company called Mountain Crest Brewing Company (MCBC) to create and sell premium beer at discounted prices. Upon entering the Alberta market, Mountain Crest Classic Lager (our flagship brand) had instant success and quickly became a household name. The consumers loved the beer so much that they suggested the slogan ‘Damn Good Beer’ and we happily obliged. The “Damn Good Beer” slogan can now be found on many of our beers – including Mountain Crest Classic Lager, Mountain Crest Blonde and Clear Creek Ice. Of course, we also have another 20 craft and session types of brews in almost all genres of beers produced in the world.
My sister and I also believe in being socially responsible in all facets of our business. We were the first brewing company in Canada to voluntarily put a Management Warning on all our cans and bottles that we produce. The Management Warning on the cans reads as; “MANAGEMENT WARNING: Please do not drink and drive – ever. Expectant mothers should avoid drinking alcoholic products. Enjoy this product responsibly – Respect yourself and others“. We have recently put this on all our products because we believe that as a responsible brewer and citizen of this country, it is important that we do our part to educate Canadians on the harms caused by alcohol. We were recognized for this initiative and were awarded FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) Recognition Award.
We purchased the Joseph Huber Brewing Company, the second oldest brewery in the United States, in 2006 in Monroe, Wisconsin and quickly renamed it to “Minhas Craft Brewery”. This officially made us the Youngest Brewery Owners in The World.
We are extremely excited to have opened the Minhas Micro Brewery in Calgary and would like to further develop the Craft beer market in Canada as well as to develop unique beers such as our Gluten Free beers for the North American market out of this wonderful city of Calgary, Alberta.
Manjit and Ravinder Minhas