Birth of a Recipe

Here at MOD, we’re in a constant state of experimentation and product development. In a way, we’re an assembly line of new products, with at least two new products coming out every month this year – and in some months, many more.

 But how is a new product developed? How does it go from an idea to a six-pack on the shelf? How many people are involved?

This week, we’ll be releasing Spectrum Birthday Cake, back by popular demand. In honour of this anticipated release, we thought we’d take you through how we take each of our new releases from conception to reality, through the perspective of how we created one of our most popular and bizarro beer releases.

 There’s no singular way we come up with new beer or product ideas. Inspiration comes from all directions. We tend to focus on consumer insights to drive any new product idea, usually by looking at what’s trending locally and what’s popular in the US.

 With Spectrum in particular, we take inspiration from unusual places, like food or drink flavours not commonly associated with beer, but which can then be replicated into one. So it was with Birthday Cake, which was inspired by a Timbit.

 “This is a very Canadian way of finding a recipe,” says Paul Mroczek, co-founder and president of MOD Beverage.

  “I noticed that the Birthday Cake donut was the most popular Timbit when Tim Horton’s released it a couple years back. It was the first one to go whenever someone brought a box of Timbits around,” he says, careful to add, “Not that I eat a lot of Timbits…”

 Paul then started noticing Birthday Cake-flavoured sweets all over the place. The Birthday Cake zeitgeist had arrived.

“I thought, ‘This is unique enough, interesting enough, maybe we should try to make a beer out of that’,” he says.

 Once a new concept is ready for development, it’s kicked over to MOD’s Market and Channel Director, Kendra Belsheim, who quarterbacks every new idea until it hits the market. It’s her job to ensure the products are developed properly and to ensure all markets we sell to are purchasing it.

 On any given week, she’s collaborating with around 100 different people to ensure something like Birthday Cake (along with everything else) is available on store shelves: warehouses managers, distributors, government agents, sales representative, liquor stores all across the country, plus everyone on MOD’s in-house team that touches the product.  

 Her first job, alongside Paul, is to figure out the release date of a new product, then plan backward from there.

 “The release date is generally dictated by the brand plans and the concept of the beer,” Kendra says.

 Often, a new concept is matched to a particular season. Spectrum Margarita Gose was first launched in Summer 2018 to suit the warm weather vibes. Other times, it’s about mimicking what other companies are doing. Spectrum Pumpkin Spiced Latte Ale was timed for release the same day that Starbuck’s released its actual Pumpkin Spice Latte last fall.

 Birthday Cake was a little different. It was first released in February 2020, when there was a gap in the release schedule. It occurred to Paul that February statistically has the least number of birthdays in any given year, so he cheekily launched Birthday Cake with that in mind.

 “Because Birthday Cake was a success last February, we thought he’d try to replicate that this year,” Kendra says.

 Once the release date is figured out, the project is kicked over in two directions to work on it simultaneously, over MOD’s in-house innovation team and its marketing team.

 The innovation team includes Evan Doan, MOD’s Innovation and Efficiency Manager, who develops all recipes for us.

 Because Spectrum doesn’t have a taproom (yet), we’re unable to test small batches on draft, so bench testing is needed in advance to ensure it’s, you know, worthy of human consumption. For new concepts, it can take between 1-3 months of bench testing, though a recipe is usually developed and ready for production after two trails, which takes about a month.

 When developing the Birthday Cake recipe, Evan knew that utilizing cake ingredients – eggs, wheat, sugar, etc. – would wreak havoc on the fermentation process. Instead he bought a birthday cake recipe box from the grocery store, which is a kind of angel cake. He then sent that cake to a flavouring agency, which was able to use natural extracts that highlighted cake flavours in a way that was manageable in the brew process without causing fermentation issues at a large scale.

 “It was one of those times where the recipe development just came together easily,” Evan says.

 The marketing team develops the packaging concept, the name of the beer (if a name hasn’t already been created), and any campaign that might be involved in the launch and ongoing sale of the beer.

 While this is going on, Kendra will work on the government plan – what parameters the product needs to work within to fit on a shelf in every province in Canada. Birthday Cake is carried in B.C., Alberta and Manitoba, so she needs to navigate each provinces requirement for alcohol sales and ensure its listed. It can be a lengthy process and needs to be done for every new product in every SKU (industry speak for stock-keeping unit, or each format of every new release).

 A side note here: We’re making this seem like this is all worked on in silos. It’s not. While everyone is responsible for some aspect of the product development, there’s constant collaboration and discussion of how things will develop. Everyone’s contributing to various stages any given time.

 Once recipes and artwork are completed, everything is scheduled for production. Once it’s ready for market, our sales local sales take over. You buy it. You drink it. Hopefully you enjoy it, and everyone does the same thing again.

 Spectrum Birthday Cake is available at liquor retailers throughout BC, Alberta and Manitoba.

Team Profile: Evan Doan

We’re kicking off our Meet the Team series by introducing you to – or maybe in this case, reacquainting you with – Evan Doan, our Innovation and Efficiency Manager.

Evan is the founder and former head brewer at Doan’s Brewing and a well-known figure in the Vancouver brewing scene. Lately, he’s been overseeing recipe development for all of MOD’s existing and upcoming brands, while also leading the charge to make the company more efficient, sustainable and vegan-friendly.

What’s your day-to-day looking like these days?

I’m in charge of all recipe development, but that’s not just writing a recipe and implementing it into the brews schedule. It’s everything else that’s involved. So that’s creating and managing process maps for developing and producing new SKUs, then overseeing quality and bench testing. I’m also improving current SKUs and figuring out the key drivers of each innovation. I also explore new equipment, new techniques, and work toward saving the company money through alternative processes or ingredients and that kind of thing.

 It seems to be equal parts creative and operational.


 On the creative side, what are you most excited to be working on?

Without giving too much away yet, I’m really excited for – let’s just call them non-alcoholic vegan-alternative beverages. There’s a global market for these kinds of beverages right now, and it’s going nowhere but up. Being a part of that is amazing.

 Are you working on vegan-friendly options for the existing alcohol brands?

We’re going to be moving all of our Spectrum beer away from lactose. We won’t be using milk sugar anymore. We’ll actually be making every SKU out of this facility a vegan product, starting in 2021.

 And you’re working on improving MOD’s sustainability practices, right?

Part of my job is to make the company more efficient. So that means using less electricity, less water, less everything, while utilizing better practices across the entire company to have less of a footprint. In the end, this will save the company money. What we’re finding is that the more efficient we can be, the more sustainable we can be, while also saving the company more money. Go figure.

 Is this something you’ve been personally advocating for?

For sure. I’ve been 100 per cent pro-environment my entire life. It’s definitely something that I feel strongly about. I think every company worldwide needs to be striving to become better. No one will be perfect, and certainly not right away. You don’t need to stop using water or whatever, but you can implement better practices. You can educate yourself. Waste Reduction

 That’s what I’m working on. A [seemly small thing] big thing we’ve done here is, for example, on the hot side in the brewery, instead of using a hose to mop the thing up there, push down the drain, use a squeegee that saves 20 litres of water, [but it all adds up]. It’s a matter of educating the team here to understand the consequences of their procedures, and the impact it will have, so they can make smarter, more sustainable choices. That education is a big part of what’s going on here. I am working on this, but it’s definitely going to be a full team effort to get where we need to be.

 This sounds like a pretty sweet job.

 Oh, it’s amazing. It definitely plays to my strengths too.  I love business and I love dealing with people, but I’m not that great at sales and all these other components of running a brewery. What I’m really good at is recipes. I was good at that even as a kid, so being able to utilize flavours and create recipes is definitely my strength for sure.

MOD Beverage’s Simple Guide to MOD Beverage’s Beverages

You might be looking at our company and wondering, “Errrr, there’s a lot going on here. What are these people all about?”

And fair enough! We are doing a lot, but that’s the game when you’re a portfolio beverage company. 

What does that mean, you ask? Simply put, it means we produce and sell more than one brand at a time. There are quite a few companies around the world that operate like this. Some produce and sell their own products, while others operate more like sales agencies that partner with manufacturers. Others still function as some variation of each.

We do it all. We even make non-alcoholic beverages, although those haven’t been released yet (but we’ll let you know when we do!).  

I know it’s a little confusing. So, to help you make a little more sense out of what we do, here’s a primer on our portfolio to give you a better sense of what we do and where we’re going. 


This was launched in May 2018 by Craft Collective Beerworks (later renamed to TBA Beverage), and we purchased the brand from them earlier this year. Spectrum was designed specifically for anyone who liked the idea of craft beer, but couldn’t get past the taste of classic beer styles: lagers, IPAs, pale ales and so on.

So Spectrum was developed specifically as a gateway beer project for  beginners, but that could also be enjoyed by just about anybody. Over two years on, it’s by far the most successful brand in our portfolio, helped in large part to the Sour Pack’s success last summer. We’ll be updating and re-releasing that in 2021, so watch out for that, along with, oh, a dozen other new innovations.

 Try this! Hot Pink Lemonade Sour – the first beer released and still a top-seller.

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Another brand purchased from CCB / TBA. This one was created to compete with the rash of mediocre lager brands selling at low prices. Clearly there was a market for good beer selling at low prices, right? Well, there was. And there is. We love Haus, and you should too. Keep an eye out for a rebrand sometime in 2021.

Try this! Haus 15-pack, duh.

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Parade Hard Seltzer is our take on the hard seltzer craze that’s taken over the country. But we’ve added a twist, introducing classic flavours from our collective past. It’s cold-sugar-fermented, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, 100 calories and all that fun stuff.

Try this! Parade Fruit Punch

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Canned wine! It’s a thing. It’s going to be more of a thing. We’ve sourced the grapes from California and are cellaring it in Vancouver for an easy-drinking canned beverage designed for basically any occasion where wine is warranted and permitted. We’ll be introducing some more sparkling, easy-drinking, lower ABV variations on these concoctions later this year. Watch out!

Try this! Sparkling Sauv Blanc

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It’s cider! In a can! It’s good.  It’s made using a modern hybrid recipe from Pacific Northwest apples. It’s smooth and goes down easy. It’s also delightfully dry, as well as zero sugar, naturally gluten-free, vegan-friendly and only 120 calories per can. We’ve only released the one flavour so far, but more are coming in 2021. Yes, we have lots on deck in 2021. Oh god.

Try this! Zero Sugar Apple

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Look y’all, coconut is nothing to fear. OK? And we can prove it – you just need to try some Mighty. Ours is the only naturally cold-sugar-fermented hard coconut water out there – made with real coconut – rather than coconut-flavoured vodka that’s been released by other companies over the past few years. It comes in two flavours, the OG coconut and a pineapple-flavoured, which, look, if you’re worried about it tasting too coconutty, try this and thank us later.

Try this! Mighty Pineapple

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An artisanal and infrequent beer project, consisting mainly of IPAs, that we picked up from CCB / TBA. What does the future hold for Phantom? Who can say? Here today, gone tomorrow.  Or is it?

Try this! Mind Fuzz IPA

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In 2017, Craft Collective secured the rights to be Odin’s Canadian partner. Odin’s founders are actually Canadians who, after years living and working abroad, settled in Seattle and opened Odin. When CCB helped Odin come into Canada, they refreshed the brand, updated the portfolio to include the wildly successful Galactic Space Dragon.

 We’ve picked the brand up where CCB left off, where it’s currently serving as our most “traditional” craft beer brand, complete with lagers, pale ales and all the weirdly experimental limited releases you could hope for.

Try this! Galactic Space Dragon IPA

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It’s alive!

Well, we’ve finally launched!

We’ve been hard at work getting this company up and running, and now that we’re officially herewe’d like share a little about who we are and what we do. 

MOD Beverage Inc. is a locally owned, multi-brand beverage start-up based in Vancouver, focusing on innovative product and brand concepts for the Canadian alcoholic and non-alcoholic markets. Our current portfolio is made up of Spectrum Beer, Haus Lager, Boujee Wines, Parade Hard Seltzer, among others, which are distributed across the country.

MOD is inspired by the success of institutional global beverage companies but funnelled through a Millennial perspective: innovative and sustainable, with brands that capture the imagination and products that inspire.

Last month, MOD acquired some of the assets from the now-defunct TBA Beverage (formerly known as Craft Collective Beerworks and Factory Brewing). These assets include beer brands Spectrum Beer, Haus Lager, Phantom Beer and the Canadian operations of Seattle-based Odin Brewing, as well as the brewing facility at 1575 Vernon Drive, Vancouver, B.C.

While MOD will retain some of the great brewing, operations and sales talent from TBA Beverage, MOD is a new business, locally owned and operated, with a new ownership and management structure. 

The company is wholly owned by founders Alex Milne, CEO, a Vancouver-based serial entrepreneur with 15 years of start-up and manufacturing management experience; and Paul Mroczek, President, a beer industry veteran in both the craft and macro sectors.

We’ll be developing and launching more new brands, with plans to develop each into self-sustaining companies. The goal is to build a portfolio that champions every segment of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage markets, from cold-brew coffee to hazy IPAs and everything in between. 

We really see this as a way to merge the quality of our favourite craft and artisanal brands with the more sophisticated sales and distribution models to reach every corner of Canada (and beyond, eventually).

This is just the beginning. We’ll be sharing more info on this page, including new brand and product launches, expansion plan, musings about the industry, and other news.

We’re excited to be here. Stay tuned! 

–      The MOD Team