Brothers Brewing Company has the craft beer industry seeing double – and it’s not just the suds talking. Interview by TNL contributor, Carly McHugh.
Since their recent debut, 22-year-old twin brothers Colton and Asa Proveau have provided a fresh, unique approach to brewmastery for Niagara and the surrounding area. The Local met up with these two young hopefuls at Iggy’s Pub and Grub to discuss their triumphs and prospects.
Hailing from a musical family, the initial dream was to pursue a career in that industry. However, with the financial situation as a deciding factor, Colton and Asa chose to utilize their creativity elsewhere. It was through their older brothers’ interest in craft beer, along with further education from a school project that they decided to pursue the art of the brew.
“It hadn’t really taken off in Ontario yet,” Colton said. “It was more so in the States, and we sort of saw what they were doing and all the small breweries that were opening up and really focusing on being really creative, local businesses, and we were like, ‘Hey,’ you know, ‘that’s really something we could see ourselves getting into, and something we could see working in Ontario.’”
From there they ‘hopped’ to it, started making beer at home, and took a year off after high school to learn more about the industry and make plans for a successful future.
The final decision was that Asa would focus on the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations program at Niagara College and Colton would study Business Administration at Brock. Both obtained mastery experience from working in breweries and winery establishments, as well as a better understanding of the beverage craft.
“We really taught ourselves everything we know,” Asa explained. “So we kind of both have the knowledge on either end, and there is no set kind of responsibilities. We do everything together.”
And they mean everything. Both Colton and Asa have been wholly committed to the branding of Brothers, taking pride in the DIY approach to their merchandise and advertising.
“We want to be a part of everything we do, because it’s so small and we want to shape every facet of it,”
“But it’s also an economic thing. So, it’s a lot cheaper to do things yourself, ” said Colton.
Ordering a Brothers beer will give you an idea of what they mean. Each of their coasters is hand-stamped, with a number out of 2,500 written on the back – currently, the numbering system is at the halfway point. Their hope is that beer lovers will take notice and start to recognize Brothers Brewing Company.
“We made our brand and all the imagery ourselves,” said Asa. “Downloading programs and figuring out how to do things because there was no other way. So, it’s pretty satisfying to be able to have built everything with these four hands.”
Aside from their branding, Colton and Asa are known for educating the craft beer community on different styles of beer. Right now, Brothers produces two product streams: a pale ale series and an experimental series; their mission is to appeal to not just their age group, but the entire craft beer community.
The pale ale series features a variety of hop profiles including Galaxy, Cascade and Mosaic – the latter of which, rocking a versatile fruity aroma, has been featured locally at Iggy’s, Kully’s Original Sports Bar, Mahtay Cafe and The Merchant Ale House.
Anything goes for the second stream, and the goal is to keep it as distinct as possible. More recently, in collaboration with another brewing company, they produced a white stout – an irregular venture in Ontario.
“We try to keep things as unique as possible, and creative. Because we’re so small, we can do those sorts of things. So, we really want to take advantage of the small volumes.”
Brothers operates out of a newly-opened brewery on the Proveau family farm in Effingham, as well as Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus when Colton and Asa are able to rent tank space. They are currently working on having a facility open to the public within the next year.
Once Brothers has a place for the public to visit, they want it to be unmatched by anything ever seen from a craft brewery – something to remember beyond just their innovative, quality beer.
Until then, Brothers Brewing Company is continuing to prosper locally and have begun to branch out beyond the Niagara region, offering their brews to cities with more refined taste in craft beer; they are currently distributing to Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.
“Just recently, I’d even say in the past six months, Niagara’s acceptance of craft beer has gone up largely,” said Colton. “I’m sure we’ve been a tiny factor in that; but even just the interest from other people wanting to open their own breweries. You’re seeing bars within the six months or now bringing in craft beer and trying to be craft beer-centric. But I think Niagara’s going to grow beyond those places. I think there’s better potential here.”
Ingenuity has been a key quality for the growth of the Brothers brand, and being young guns in the industry has also helped them establish a reputation within Ontario’s craft beer market.
“People really like helping young entrepreneurs”
“When we go in and we meet with different bars to try and get our product in, you can kind of see it in their face that they’re surprised that we’re so young, Asa said. But then, I think they really do feel like it’s unique enough that they want to help the young guys.”
Expansion of the company’s boundaries is a major prospect – especially once Colton finishes school; but they still plan to stay as independent as possible in order to keep their brand modest and unique.
“We’ve sort of been holding it back, but at the same time it’s allowed us to plan every little detail of when we do expand,” said Colton. “We go around to different breweries, we pick what we like and we see what we’re going to do when we finally do expand.”
Colton and Asa find their identical upbringing makes them ideal business partners; they have similar ideas for the prosperity of the company and find it easy to collaborate with each other on future business endeavours.
“I imagine it’s a lot more difficult for people who don’t have a partner that they can rely on,” said Asa. “In businesses they sort of discourage you against partnerships for that very reason,” Colton added. “But I think we’re sort of an exception.”
Some more entrepreneurial advice from Brothers Brewing Company: gain as much experience and as many contacts as possible – and never forget your varied educational influences.
“Niagara College was the one that gave us the opportunity to start,” said Colton. “We initially just started contracting from there. We hadn’t even got our licenses; we were just a brand off of the college. So we essentially created our business and our identity from nothing. We didn’t invest any money into it; we just sort of grew it with the help of them. So, can’t say enough, really.
“We could almost go anywhere in Ontario to any brewery and have met the person before at different industry events. It’s not really a competitive industry right now because it’s such a small percent of the total beer market; everybody supports each other. So, it’s really unique in respect – I’ve never seen another industry like it.”