Spectrum Beer partners up for East Van Pride celebration

This week, Spectrum Beer is pleased to announce our partnership with Man Up and Eastside Studios to present #upandupPRIDE, a four-day Pride celebration being held at the MOD Beverage / Spectrum Beer brewery in East Vancouver.

This year, #upandupPRIDE is replacing Eastside Pride, a weeklong series of events that was postponed due to the COVID-19 and plans to return in 2022. This year’s events are a scaled back version of Eastside Pride, featuring four of its most popular events: Man Up on Friday; two versions of Le Hangover on Saturday;  Level Up on Sunday; and Late Afternoon Snack on Monday

Not only will this weekend be a celebration of diversity and inclusion, it will also be the post-COVID blowout the East Vancouver Queer community has been waiting for (with safety protocols in place, of course!).

“We’re really hoping these events will get people back on their feet and be a morale booster,” says event organizer Ryn Broz.

“We’ve really been missing having events. Events spaces are so important to the Queer community and in East Vancouver in particular, where there aren’t many physical gay bars. Without our events, we’ve had virtually no gathering space over the past year and a half.”

MOD Beverage, which owns Spectrum beer, is donating the use of its facility for the outdoor festival. Spectrum Beer long supported East Side Pride, partnering for the events since the brand’s founding 2018. Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ community was one of the first local communities to embrace Spectrum, thanks to one of our original brewers, who was also a drag performer and enmeshed in the local drag community. One of Spectrum’s first beers, Miss Tanjie Tangerine Wheat Ale, was named after Miss Vanjie of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, which helped the brand find a niche among the Queer community almost immediately.

“Inclusivity has been one of the pillars of the Spectrum brand since day one,” says MOD Beverage president and founder Paul Mroczek.

 “It’s really about being an ally to the LGBTQ2+ community and doing more than simply changing your Instagram avatar to a rainbow flag once a year. It’s about being a partner and advocating and giving opportunities to people in this community whenever and however we can.”

Attendees to the events can expect DJ sets, live music, 15 different drag performers, food trucks, games, and a Spectrum Beer giveaway contest.

On Friday night is Man Up, Vancouver’s longest running drag show, which will also feature live music from local bands. On. Saturday will be two separate sessions of Le Hangover, which started eight years ago as a small Pride parking lot party and swelled over the years to be one of East Side Pride’s most popular events. On Sunday, is Level Up, is a BIPOC-focused music event run by run by DJ and producer Softieshan. Monday evening is Late Afternoon Snack, a late-in-the-day brunch patio hosted by Pride Monday and Continental Breakfast.

Online tickets are sold out for all events, but a limited number of door tickets will be available on the day of each event. The event will be held entirely outdoors, with organizers adhering to, and in some instances exceeding, current COVID-19 protocols. Masks will be required on the dance floor in order to keep everyone as safe as possible. 

If you’re going, we can’t wait to see you there!

Catching Up With Odin Brewing

Odin’s Quest Hazy Pale Ale will be released this July.

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.

Whoa!

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


Spectrum Beer Co. Launches New Margarita-Themed Mixpack

When a character in pop culture resonates with the public in a big way, they’re often pulled out for a spinoff. It’s happened with Han and Chewie, with Wanda and Vision, with Saul Goodman and, yes, Joey Tribianni.

Now it’s happening with Margarita Gose. That’s right! Spectrum Beer’s Margarita Gose has been pulled from the top-selling Sour Pack to star in its very own mix pack

Today, we introduce the Margarita Machine Gose Mix Pack, including three brand-new and exclusive margarita-inspired beers: Watermelon Margarita Gose, Strawberry Margarita Gose and Blue Raspberry Margarita Gose. (Before we go any further, yes, blue raspberry is a flavour and that flavour is best described as “blue”…).

Rather than utilize the standard 12-pack carton everyone else uses, we’ve done something a little different, offering a more elongated carton that, when placed upright, mimics the look of those actual margarita slushy machines you see in restaurants and resorts all over the world.

Indeed, the experience we’re hoping to achieve with this new mixer is to offer a mini vacation away from home while stuck at home, back to that wonderful beach resort from however long ago. Remember that? So fun.

Each of these new recipes are based on the original Margarita Gose, which we launched in 2018 and has been a top-seller for Spectrum ever since, in both its six-pack format and as part of the Sour Pack mixer.

Speaking of the Sour Pack, if you’re asking, “If Margarita Gose is leaving the Sour Pack, what does this mean for the Sour Pack?”, then you are indeed a keen observer and probably a superfan. Good for you. We’ll have an announcement about that coming soon.

The Margarita Machine Mix Pack will be widely available throughout Western Canada beginning this week. To find out more, visit our website spectrumbeer.com and follow us on Instagram at @spectrumbeer.

Parade Hard Seltzer Launches Double Pop Mix Pack

Remember those ice pops from when you were a kid? The ones you’d need to break in two and they’d melt all over your hands? Then you’d lie in the sun and let the flavour take you over completely? Yeah. Good times.

With that memory in mind, Parade Hard Seltzer launches its very first mix pack, the Double Pop Pack, aimed to take you back to that place so many of us can recall. By combining the brand’s two core flavours– Fruit Punch and Pink Lemonade – with four new ones, Parade is offering balanced, flavourful hard seltzers alongside a dollop of nostalgia to get you through this summer.

New for this mix pack are Lime, Grape, Orange and (not at all controversially) Banana flavours, all of which are designed to emulate the classic ice pops without all the added sugar. Each flavour in the Double Pop Pack is sugar-free and 100 calories.

“We’ve seen enormous growth with hard seltzers and RTDs generally over the past year, but in our opinion, they were all missing that wow factor we like to see in new product launches,” says Paul Mroczek, President of MOD Beverage and Founder of Parade Hard Seltzer.

“The market seems ready for more advanced flavours in their hard seltzers – something that’s both familiar, but totally unexpected from a brand like this. I think the Double Pop Pack offers the kind of experience people are looking for this summer.”

Parade utilizes MOD’s Cold Fermented Sugar process, which a variation on the malt-flavoured beverages available in the US. We use a special Seltzer yeast and proprietary fermentation strategy to get a clean fermentation that all but removes the phenolics and esters and allows for a fresh flavour and smooth drinkability.  

Parade launched in Summer 2020 and is MOD Beverage’s first foray into low-calorie RTDs. The mix packs will be widely available throughout. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

For more information, visit paradehardseltzer.com and on Instagram at @paradehardseltzer.

How we’re fighting climate change

What can the beverage alcohol industry do to curb climate change?

We ask ourselves this every day. How can we not? The good news is there’s a lot we can do. We can reduce our waste, for one, and we can begin giving renewables a go. We can raise awareness with our employees, clients and various stakeholders. All are important.

Where it begins, though, is with curbing our carbon emissions and becoming fully sustainable as soon as possible.

Earlier this year MOD Beverage partnered with Vancouver-based Offsetters to develop a plan to get us to zero emissions sometime in the next decade. Our operations and carbon emissions are still being analyzed, so we don’t yet have a realistic target set out. But we are committed to getting there and hope to be a leader in the Canadian beverage alcohol and a beacon for like-minded companies to do the same. By educating ourselves, our employees and our clients, we hope we can raise consciousness on this issue.

We’re excited to go through this process and know it’s the right thing for our business, for our community and for our planet. We were hoping to have the plan unveiled by today, but it’s always better to get it done right than done quickly.

Stay tuned for more info in the coming months as we unveil our plan.

Getaway Hard Cider Releases New Mix Pack

MOD Beverage’s cider brand, Getaway Hard Cider, is readying the release of its first mix pack. Alongside its core Zero Sugar Apple, the mixer will include Zero Sugar Pear and Zero Sugar Pineapple.

We’ve based each of these new recipes off the Apple recipe, adding fresh pear and pineapple juice, respectively. In the case of Pear, the cider is deliciously mellow and lightly sweet, making for a highly drinkable addition to the Getaway family. With Pineapple, we’ve gone for a more tropical take on the classic cider flavour – one that’s smooth, clean and refreshing as it sounds.

Getaway Hard Cider was released in 2020 and was designed to reinvigorate the cider market with a product line that is approachable and flavourful, without utilizing added sugar for the sweetness. Every batch is naturally fermented down to eliminate all residual sugar, so it’s dry and refreshing with just the faintest hint of sweetness. And of course, zero-sugar.

In addition to the release of the mix pack, Zero Sugar Apple has been listed by the BC Liquor Stores and is available at locations all across British Columbia. The mix packs will be launching across Western Canada at private retailers and listed at MBLL/Liquor Mart, Calgary Coop and the SLGA.

For more information, or to find a store near you that carries Getaway, visit getawaycider.com and follow us at @getawaycider.

Spectrum Beer Co. launches ‘Choose Our Next Beer Flavour’ Contest

Is there a wild or whacky beer flavour you’ve been dying to try? Or have you been hoping Spectrum Beer Co. would finally settle down and make a normal beer for once?

Well, now you can have your say! Spectrum has launched the “Choose the Next Spectrum Beer Flavour!” contest, where people can submit their ideas – however creative or traditional they might be – for a chance to win up to $3,500 in travel vouchers for a trip anywhere in Canada.

The contest is simple: submit beer flavour ideas through Instagram between now and April 20. On April 26, three finalists will be unveiled, where Instagram users can vote on which one they’d like us to make. The winner will be announced May 10, and the final beer will be released in October.

Go here for full contest details and to enter (and make sure to follow @spectrumbeer, while you’re at it).

MOD Beverage to Launch Rail Brand Spirits

Next month, MOD Beverage will launch its new lineup of spirits, Rail Brand.

Launching with Rail Brand Vodka and Rail Brand Gin, the lineup focuses on the simple side of spirits – no fuss, no fancy flavours, just basic gin and vodka that’s perfect for mixing drinks at home or at a bar.

We’d noticed a gap in the market for a no frills, low-key and affordable alternative to the major players in the spirits category. Initially devised to support professional bartenders (hence the “rail” in our name, referring to the rail behind the bar where liquor is kept), we quickly realized the bartenders at home could use something similar.  So, we designed Rail Brand Spirits Co to give both professional and amateur bartenders a quality, low-cost option for their go-to – or “on the rail” – spirit.   

Each batch is manufactured locally in MOD’s Vancouver facility. In keeping with the back-to-basics approach of the concept, the vodka tastes just as you’d expect – like vodka! Same goes for the gin, which utilizes just the right amount of herbal ingredients without overwhelming the sense. Less is definitely more when it comes to this line of spirits.

Tying everything together is minimalist packaging designed to turn heads and give it to you straight. Just like your vodka or gin, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Rail Brand is one of two new MOD Beverage brands launching this spring, alongside Company Cocktails. Expect Rail Brand Vodka and Rail Brand Gin at a liquor store near you this Spring! For more information, visit railbrandspirits.com or check out @railbrandspirits.

MOD Announces New Brand, Company Cocktails

Next month, MOD Beverage will launch its newest brand, Company Cocktails, a line of original canned cocktails created by some of the world’s most distinguished bartenders.

Each new release will be designed by a different bartender, with new recipes slated for release every season. The idea is to offer a craft cocktail you’d find at a downtown bar, but accessible enough for people to take with them back home, to a park or to a party (if those ever happen again).

We’re kicking it all off Lucky You, a collaboration with Trevor Kallies, who’s considered one of the godfathers of modern Canadian cocktail culture. He’s the longtime president of the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association (CPBA), and the longtime Bar and Beverage Director for the Donnelly Group, making him the perfect bartender to launch Company Cocktails with.

“I was excited about the idea,” Trevor says. “I’ve never had the opportunity to put something of my own creation on store shelves. This can hit such a larger and broader audience. It’s not just one bartender serving one cocktail to one guest. It’s an opportunity to put something delicious and amazing into a can that anyone can enjoy.”

Lucky You is a gin-based cocktail with turmeric, lemon and ginger. The recipe was specifically crafted around turmeric, which gives the cocktail its bright, almost neon yellow colour.

“The whole idea of the cocktail combination came from the idea of a juicer, which usually offer some kind of immune juice shots,” Trevor says, “These are based on some combination of high-level citrus, ginger and turmeric for the health and wellness.

“I thought this could be fun and a little bit cheeky to put it in an alcoholic beverage.”

Trevor Kallies posing with a glass of Lucky You.

Company Cocktails is also a collaboration between MOD and Super Collider, a creative agency founded by Damon Holowchak and Steve Cousins, who have designed all packaging and marketing efforts behind the brand and its upcoming releases.

Damon and Trevor are also old friends, having worked together at Donnelly for over a decade. In developing Company Cocktails, Damon says he saw an opportunity to make craft cocktails accessible to anybody, not just people living in downtown centres or highly urbanized areas.

“Canned cocktails are nothing new, but generally what you can get are more traditional cocktails, like an Old Fashioned or a Negroni. There aren’t many premium, original cocktails on the market,” Damon says.

“We also understand the bartending community enough to know there are extremely talented people out there who have great ideas that would work in this format. We wanted to open this up to the variety of amazing talents out there.”

Partial proceeds of Lucky You sales will go to support the CPBA Relief Fund, which was set up to assist bartenders financially during COVID-19. Cocktail Culture also has two more releases planned for 2021, partnering with two of the most celebrated bartenders in Canada.

Company Cocktails is the first in MOD’s Cocktail Culture lineup of canned cocktails and RTDs.  For more information about Company Cocktails, visit the website and follow @companycocktails on Instagram.

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.