By Carlos Oen
Imagine that after playing for two years on Vancouver’s best stages you’ve just been signed by a major record company with plans to take you touring across Canada. Now trade your axe for a keg of cold beer and your tom-toms for tasty six-pack of crafted lager, for you are in Good Company now.
It all started at the Cobalt, one of Vancouver´s favourite bars (currently under undergoing upgrades). From years of experience behind the bar, entrepreneurial Patryk Drozd realized live music lovers and bar patrons alike wanted an affordable beer. Two years ago, all customers could get in the $4.50 range was a boring, generic and industrial can.
Drozd and his partner Michael Kiraly, a biology professor at Capilano University, decided to do something about it. Good Company Lager was born with a specific mission — Putting cans in hands.
“What we wanted to do is create a local craft value brand that we could introduce to the market and support the local community,” said Drozd. “We wanted a brand that was reflective of what we represent in the community. What that wanted to be is a local-draft-beer alternative to what doesn´t exist in Canada.”
Vancouverites are known for supporting local brands, and this one started by supporting local music bands and artists. A virtuous cycle was formed and Good Company Lager became a success.
Little did Drozd and Kiraly knew they were being watched by one of North America´s most important wine and spirits distributor – Southern Glazer´s Wine & Spirits.
A year-and-a-half after the kickoff, the distributors of brands such as Grey Goose, Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire and Patron contacted Drozd. They wanted a beer in their Canadian portfolio. The conversations resulted in a signed deal to distribute Vancouver´s Good Company Lager across Canada. These local guys went national.
“Suddenly this fun little project turned into something really serious,” said Drozd. “We were just a little company with two guys and a truck. Just slinging beer. All of a sudden we are getting to that level now. It’s pretty interesting.”
The first stage is to distribute Good Company Lager in B.C. and Alberta. It’s all part of a three year project to take it across Canada. Drozd is calm and keeps his feet on the ground, telling himself he will believe it when he sees it.
Hard work and vision have helped Drozd to co-own the Cobalt, the Boxcar and the American. These are Main Street´s Holy Trinity of bars. He sees much of his success coming from supporting the community. When Good Company Lager came out, many of the communities that Drozd has helped turned around and gave their support.
“People are excited about Vancouver. People are very excited about things from Vancouver. And people want to support people that do things in Vancouver. There is a growing support network for local stuff. For a long time Vancouver never had that,” said Drozd.
It is time to raise the pint high, wishing success to this fermented, yeasty, and local band. Cheers!