Photography: Mauricio Calero
When it comes to food and drink, Toronto is in a league of its own. Our cocktail scene is impeccable, and new chefs and restaurateurs continue to push the envelope in order to offer fresh perspectives. But it’s not just the bars and restaurants that are defining the culinary landscape. It’s the individuals behind some of the city’s most exciting food and drink companies that are also staking their claim on the cultural capital in Toronto. And while building a brand is no easy task, every so often there are those few cases that break through the fold because of a great product, a strong team and perfect timing. These three companies embody those very characteristics and have captured a group of engaged and loyal followers along their trajectory to success. Here’s what you can learn from them.
Ace Hill Beer
From left to right: Richard Lambert, Noah Gill, Mike Wagman, Blake Anderson
Chances are, if you’ve gone out for a drink in Toronto, you’ve probably seen someone enjoying Ace Hill Beer. Their cans are unmistakable and unique in a market chock full of brands with less than stellar packaging; stark white with a single “A” that serves as a beacon for all that they stand for. Years ago, Blake Anderson would brew his own beer at home, serving it amongst his friends and family as way to fuel his interests and bring his loved ones together. It wasn’t until he started refining his skills and started to get acknowledgment from respected beer awards that he considered turning his passion into a full-time career. Together with a few of his friends — a powerhouse mixture that includes a restaurateur, entrepreneur and marketing expert — Ace Hill Beer was born.
“Premium simplicity” are words that co-founder Mike Wagman uses to describe the brand. In less than a year, Ace Hill’s signature pilsner has managed to land in more than 175 bars, restaurants and venues across Toronto, excluding distribution at the Beer Store and LCBO locations. With no signs of slowing down, their trajectory to success has been the result of three core pillars to which Wagman considers essential to the cultivation of their brand: “team, product and community.” Their ability to bring people together night after night over a shared drink and new memories has undoubtedly established Ace Hill Beer as one of the most beloved brands to come out of the city.