It Started With One Man’s Thirst
1984 was a simpler time. Men were men, hard drives were just how you got to Edmonton and beer was either “lager A” or “lager B”. But noted beer fan Ed McNally was thirsty for a real choice. And rather than complicate matters by tracking down established import brews, Ed took the “easy” way out and started his own brewery. A feat made more extraordinary by his age at the time. Most sixty year olds are thinking about getting out of businesses and into deck chairs, not Ed. Taking the path of most resistance is a trait that endures at Big Rock to this day – we don’t tolerate compromise in any of our beers and refuse to take shortcuts with their brewing or ingredients.
By 1985 he had found a small space to set up shop, “imported” our first brewmaster Bernd Pieper, and started creating the beers that he liked. At the time Ed was quoted as saying that his plan was to “make the beers that I want to drink, not what will be popular.” That philosophy goes a long way to explaining why our first three beers were Bitter, Porter and Traditional. Of the three, Traditional was an instant hit, and continues to win praise and converts today. As for the others, well, Ed really liked them.
What’s With the Name?
In an industry filled with names that reflect Teutonic traditions, alpine splendour, or brave and furry woodland predators, our company is named after a multi-tonne quartzite glacial deposit located outside of Okotoks, Alberta. This “big rock” in the middle of the prairie is known as an erratic, and we think it fits perfectly with our mission to brew deliberately different beer.
1996 was the year that saw Big Rock move to its current location, having grown much too large for the original facility. We actually have three breweries here now. Our main brewery, capable of producing batches of 200 Hectolitres; the smaller Kaspar Schulz, where we innovate new brews, and our own Nano Brewery which was custom built for our barrel program, and to allow customers to brew their own creations.
The Thirst Continues
In 2012, Big Rock named a new CEO, Bob Sartor to its board. While being mindful of the great traditions behind the brewery, Bob has set about reinvigorating the Big Rock brand with a new mission, new packaging, new digs and of course a determination to brew A LOT of deliberately different new beers. As for what happens next, well stayed tuned, we have big plans.
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