Beer is among the top consumed drinks in Canada. The Canadian beer industry contributes over $ 14 billion annually in economic activity with 90% of the country’s beer consumed locally. The beer market in Canada is composed of over 650 breweries that are home to over 7000 brands. Before 1646, brewing was done domestically for special occasions and personal enjoyment. The craft beer frenzy began in 1982, then, consumer preference had shifted from larger to more traditionally brewed beer. Commercial beer consumption declined significantly since 2000 while the craft beer sales registered double digits growths annually (http://inspirery.com/eli-gershkovitch/). The craft beer market attracted large and small scale brewers among them Steamworks brewery.
Eli Gershkovitch’s exposure to a different variety of beer and a visit to a microbrewery in Germany influenced his view of the beer market. Having studied law, he got a chance to work with clients that had ventured into the liquor market (The Bro Talk). During this period, he familiarized himself with the laws in the industry, built contacts, confidence, and credibility. He left active law practice to build something that was more tangible and to add value to his career.
Eli Gershkovitch desired to own a place where people could enjoy freshly brewed beers. He identified a building in Gastown that continues to host the brewery to date. However, the liquor control board was opposed to the idea of having the brewery in the neighborhood. Eli Gershkovitch initiated a referendum that led to the enactment of a law that allowed for the operation of the brewery. Steamworks Brewery opened its doors in 1995 in Gastown.
Steamworks’ capacity in Gastown has grown over the years from 184 to 754 seats. Steamworks brewery products include seasonal brews, Steamworks Pilsner, Kolsch, and Pale Ale. The brewery also branched out into neighboring areas like the Waterfront Station. In 2013, another Brewery was opened next to the Burnaby boundary increasing the brewery’s production and revenues. According to Gershkovitch, growth has to be proportionate to demand.
Today, Gershkovitch is an inspiration to many. He has transformed Gastown into an emerging destination for business. His advice to other entrepreneurs is to build a strong brand in the local market before branching out and be committed purpose.