Catching Up With Odin Brewing
Next month, Odin Brewing will launch its latest round of brews, beginning with the much anticipated Odin’s Quest Hazy Pale, and Loki’s Lemon Sour. Then, in August, Odin will drop the Dragon Slayer Mix Pack, featuring the whole range of Dragon beers to date plus a new one: Galactic Space Dragon IPA, Sonic Sea Dragon IPA, Super Galactic Space Dragon Double IPA and the all new Super Sonic Sea Dragon Double IPA.
As Odin’s Canadian licensed sales and manufacturing partner, MOD’s innovation team developed each of these new products. To mark the occasion of these releases, we caught up with Wes Peterson, co-founder of Odin, and see how things have been going for them throughout the pandemic and to hear what plans are in store in the near future.
[MOD] What was the thinking behind the new releases?
[Wes Peterson],We wanted to develop some new concepts that would fit the Canadian market while also playing to Odin’s strengths. The Dragon Slayer, in particular, seemed like a perfect fit, with the rise mix packs, and themed mix packs more specifically.
With Odin’s Quest, we saw that the market has shifted away from malty ales toward hazy and juicy ales, so we thought we should replace Odin’s Gift, which had been a core beer of ours for a long time. But that’s the nature of this business – products come and go.
Loki’s Lemon Sour is actually a rebranded version of Lemondrop, which we’ve released as a limited release the past few years. We wanted to keep that beer consistent with the rest of our offerings.
[MOD] How are things going with Odin in the US right now?
[Wes Peterson] Things are going well on both sides of the border. We’re actually in the process of relocating our main operation out of Tukwila down to Tacoma. We added a second brewpub in Tacoma, which has helped us sustain this transition of transplanting our operations. We’re still in the middle of a lot of that work right now, but it’s exciting. We hired a chef there, Kristen Lyon, who was just competing on FireMasters on the Food Network. We’re looking forward to sort of coming out of this pandemic and hopefully upright like everyone else.
Looking back a bit, how was it launching into Canada? How’s it been operating a transnational craft beer brand?
For the most part, it went relatively smoothly. It was about flexibility on both parts. We came in with a bunch of recipes that we thought would work, but we had to be flexible on those recipes. And we were.
A good example of that was Galactic Space Dragon, which used to be a filtered, traditional IPA, but adjusted to more of a NE Hazy IPA. And we also worked to adjust the branding to localize it to this market.
We came in and were willing to adjust to a new market, so it wasn’t a particularly painful process. It is a matter of understanding that, as much as we like to think that craft beer drinkers are ubiquitous, they aren’t. Canadian craft beer drinkers do vary somewhat from American ones, in their approach and the style of beer they like, and sort of in what gets them motivated to buy craft.
Yeah, Galactic Space Dragon was a big hit here for Odin. Did you change it in the US?
GSD in the US remains filtered and fined. It is a traditional West Coast IPA. So that hasn’t changed, it only changed in the Canadian market. But we adjusted our branding to reflect a more consistent brand on both sides of the border. So we actually took on the brand marks that we have in the Canadian market for the US.
Speaking of COVID earlier, have you visited the US operation since COVID began?
I haven’t been down to our facility in Washington in… it’ll be two years as I think August.
My last trip down was August of 2019. I was planning on going down in December and got pulled away to some other stuff. Then the pandemic was declared early in 2020, and I couldn’t get anywhere, the borders closed down.
Dan [Lee, Wes’s business partner and the other co-founder of Odin] has been looking after a lot – obviously the operation, the transition of facilities, the opening up of the new brewpub and everything else that goes along with that. All in a pandemic environment. It’s been a hell of a challenge, to say the least, but I think it’s gone over pretty well. I’m optimistic we’ll be coming out of the pandemic in better shape than we went into it.
What are your plans are for the brand in Canada over the next couple of years?
I would like to see it continue to grow and thrive. We’re looking at getting a brew pub or restaurant in key markets. We’ve been looking at it for a while now, but the challenge has been, one, the proliferation of craft breweries in these markets. I’m based in Kelowna and I think there are 15 breweries here now. If you look at Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, even Winnipeg, you’re not only dealing with a proliferation of craft beer and craft breweries in the market, you’re also dealing with what I can only call egregious rent rates. I don’t know what you’re seeing in Vancouver right now, but last I checked some of the Kelowna rental rates probably rival what’s in Vancouver right now, per square foot.
So it’s a challenging market and you can’t just come in with models the same. The model’s got to reflect the market, but the model also has to reflect something more. We want to localize it, but it creates challenges when you’re up against the gun on just getting the facility up and running. We’ve explored a couple of partnerships now and, at least as far as I’m concerned, they haven’t been the right ones. We’re still open to that approach.
So you’re staying the course and waiting for the right opportunity?
Yeah. I value the relationship we’ve had with MOD – it’s been a good, productive relationship. We want to continue to support what they’re doing and hopefully they want to continue to support what we’re doing. We’ll continue to bide our time and look for that right opportunity. It’s really about not being just another craft brewery in the marketplace.
Keep an eye out for Odin’s Quest, Loki’s Lemon Sour and the Dragon Slayer Mix Pack, due later this summer. For more info on Odin Brewing, following them on Instagram at @odinbrewing and visit their website: odinbrewing.com