Below is our recent interview with Pat Macdonald, Co-Founder & CEO at United Craft Inc.:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your company?
A: United Craft is a family woman-led craft beverage company started in 2014 by mother-son team Pat and Ian Macdonald who are passionate about flavour development and who want to create tasty beverages that satisfy the thirst and unique flavour preferences of Canadians. We undertake research to determine what today’s consumers really want in a beverage and then engage our innovation pros to create flavours and styles that meet those needs. Our goal is to offer high quality, on-trend products across beverage categories (beer, cider, spiritis, ready to drink beverages) and to be first to market with meaningful innovation.
Recent examples include:
- Our distinctive cocktail-inspired Moi line of beer-based radler spritzes – they are low alcohol , fruity and designed to mirror flavour profiles of popular cocktails like the Moi-Mosa, Moi-Jito and new in 2023 the Strawberry Moi-Garita..
- The new Flair line has a similar cocktail focus; it’s fruit and cider-based and is gluten free and vegan friendly.
- We were also the first to offer an Ontario craft beer aged in oak that was infused with Canadian whisky.
- Back in 2016, we launched Ontario’s first packaged Shandy drink made with a complex botanical blend featuring ginger, and then kissed with honey and lemon.
- Last year we launched a low alcohol radler beverage made with Ontario maple water, which is nutrient-rich and packed with electrolytes.
Our products are distributed to hundreds of LCBO and Grocery stores like Loblaws, Sobeys, Fortinos, etc. as well as The Beer Store. In addition to the brands we develop and own, we offer sales, marketing, product innovation, and logistics services to other entrepreneurs and independent beverage producers across Ontario and now other provinces. We act as their agent. Longer term, we seek to expand beyond beverage alcohol into “no” and “low” alcohol products as well as functional beverages that afford meaningful benefits with simple natural ingredients.
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: What we’re most excited about is the ability for United Craft to serve as an innovation hub for our own products but also for other companies just starting out. This venture also helps us transition to a brick and mortar operation and enable participation across all channels of distribution, including our own retail store.
Niagara Falls Craft Distillers is a very experienced beverage producer with the latest equipment to blend ingredients, pasteurize, homogenize and even nitro-dose a whole range of beverages, plus holds important safety, organic and quality certifications and licenses for both the U.S. and Canadian markets. This collaboration will accelerate beverage development from concept through to flavour development, production, testing and distribution – getting Canadian products to market more quickly – and importantly, at the time consumers want them.
United Niagara Beverages will also now be able to attract production from companies in other jurisdictions (U.S. and other provinces) looking to enter the fiercely competitive Ontario marketplace. The strategic venture possess the product development, quality control, production capabilities, marketing expertise, proven sales track record and know-how of the Ontario marketplace including its regulatory idiosyncrasies.. for one-stop service to those looking to enter Ontario.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?
A: The two companies will be leveraging off each other’s respective strengths: Niagara Falls Craft Distillers with its extensive production capabilities and state of the art equipment and United Craft with its deep marketing and sales expertise, customer analytics, and automated systems for CRM, order processing, logistics and consolidated transportation. and soon Ontarians will see innovative new malt-based ready to drink beverages and spirits in stores. Plus we will be able to customize one-of-a-kind products for licensed bars and restaurants… and even for large private events like weddings.It’s all about being more nimble to move quickly but in a smart, quality-focused manner.
Q: What can we expect from your company in the next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: This Summer we’ll be bringing out new malt-based ready to drink beverages like a High Societe Hard Tea and Turtle Bay ginger beer, both produced in small batches locally. This Fall we’ll be ;launching new spirits including St Lawrence Spirits vodka and HIGH STICK vodka, packaged in a one-of-a-kind hand-blown glass hockey stick – perfect for gifting. More seasonal flavours of beer and ciders will also be available.
Q: What is the best thing about your company that people might not know about?
A: We’re very attuned and supportive of our local communities. United Craft offers a charity beer line under the Brew Aid banner, available at the LCBO. The charitable cause and product name changes periodically but the focus is always the same – generate awareness and funds for overlooked causes by donating 25 cents of each can sold to the designated charity. WE use part of the can to tell the key message of the charity to help raise its profile. Right now we’re offering Brew Aid’s “All You Need Is Love” lager with the net proceeds going to the Rainbow Railroad. Previously we have supported the homeless (with Hockey Helps the Homeless), breast cancer (Look Good, Feel Better) and first responder programs (Wounded Warriors).