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Tool Shed Brewing and the Golden Growler

Tool Shed Brewing and the Golden Growler

Posted on: June 08, 2015
Author: ATB Agriculture

This innovative craft brewer found a unique way to raise start-up capital. ATB Financial was proud to join in, in recognition of Alberta farmers.

You can brew a few cases of beer in your basement or garage for next to nothing. If you want to go commercial and join the burgeoning craft beer industry, you’re going to need some capital.

Just three years ago, Calgary friends and IT professionals Graham Sherman and Jeff Orr were looking to make that leap. After years of making their own beer in Sherman’s tool shed, they hatched a plan to build a small craft brewery and go for it. In honour of their humble roots, they named their business Tool Shed Brewing Company.

Following a year of guest-brewing at a B.C. facility and importing their product to Alberta, all the pieces came together in 2014. Except for one thing.

“We were about $500,000 short on capital,” says Sherman. “We decided to come up with a sort of membership idea, and see if that did the trick.”

Membership with many benefits

This was the start of the Golden Growler club. For a one-time contribution of $5,000, members would receive 100 refills per year, for life. Add it up, throw in the priceless cool factor of being a craft beer benefactor and $5,000 starts to sound like a great deal.

Before long, Orr and Sherman had signed up 50 Golden Growler members, including craft beer colleague Big Rock Brewery. ATB Financial stepped forward and purchased not one but two Golden Growlers, with a special purpose in mind.

“We dedicated our Golden Growlers to Alberta farmers,” says Terry Andryo, ATB’s Senior Agriculture Marketing Manager. “These farmers, many of whom are long-time ATB clients, grow the world-class barley that goes to Alberta company Rahr Malting. This malt is the crucial ingredient in Tool Shed Brewing’s distinctive craft beer.”

With capital in place, Sherman and Orr built a 15,000 sq. ft. craft brewery and packaging operation in northeast Calgary. If you visit, it looks like the guys have much more space than they’re brewing in. Thinking ahead, they built it with expansion in mind, doing all the millwork and other infrastructure they’d need for years to come.