We revisit our conversation with Ken Greer of Halifax-based company BeerTech which specializes in draught system technologies. BeerTech offers consulting, design and installation, cleaning and maintenance, as well as beverage dispensing gas services to craft breweries, pubs, and restaurants throughout New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. It’s Ken’s mission to design every BeerTech draught system for “optimum performance and cost savings and do the installation to the highest industry standards.” Even if you’re not in the beverage industry BeerTech has something for you.
The story of BeerTech is a real bootstraps tale. Ken Greer registered the company name in 2013, packed his bags, and headed south of the 49th parallel. “It doesn’t matter what you do, education is key,” Ken said. “When the BeerTech name was mine, I went down to do training at Micro Matic, which is an American company that builds draft equipment and they offer an advanced draft course. The course really teaches you to install draft systems and how to do it right.”
But doing it right is only part of the BeerTech equation. “It’s a really fun industry,” Ken continued. “There’s a lot of comradery amongst the brewers in the craft brewing industry in Nova Scotia and throughout the Maritimes in general. It’s a lot of fun going into a new pub, a new craft brewery or a new restaurant and setting up their taps. Going in and it’s barebones and then setting up their new draft system is a really great feeling.”
Ken explained that the ranks of his from-the-ground-up clientele are growing. When he came back to Halifax from his advanced training program at Micro Matic with his mortarboard in hand, the sun was shining as it were.
“We started right around the time the boom in the craft brewing industry happened,” Ken continues, “When we started there was just one New Brunswick-based company doing draft installations throughout the Maritimes so people were used to being at their mercy. Prices were not at all what they should have been because there was no competition and if your business was in Nova Scotia you could be waiting a while, too.”
As the stand-alone draught systems technology company in Nova Scotia, making hay often means that BeerTech is hitting the open road. If you’ve ever had a growler filled at Big Spruce Brewing in Nyanza on Cape Breton Island or sampled an IPA in the tasting room at the Tatamagouche Brewing Company on the Northumberland Strait or brought home a six-pack of swing-top bottles from the Schoolhouse Brewery in the birthplace of hockey, Windsor, your libation was brought to you in part by BeerTech. “We put in a fair amount of kilometres throughout Nova Scotia,” Ken said. “The number of craft breweries and pubs we’ve done over a five-year period is remarkable.”
Ken goes on to say, “I don’t take any jobs I cannot get to quickly if you have a problem,” he continued. “One of the things that we like to do is educate people – we don’t just come in and install your draft system and then just disappear; we give you enough information to get yourself out of trouble but not enough information to get yourself into trouble. If people get too comfortable with their system they start fiddling and if you start fiddling you can get into trouble. We leave our customers knowing the basic mechanics and science behind their systems so that they can troubleshoot until myself or Grant is on the scene.”
Despite BeerTech’s perpetual growth spurt, Ken explained that he is cautious of too much change. “I don’t want to grow to any more than four people. I want to stay small and stay local and basically just work for small independently-owned businesses like in the craft industry.”
However, that doesn’t mean that Ken isn’t willing to continue to diversify his business model.
“The bulk CO2 side of the business is growing and it’s important to us financially because it’s something we’re doing that our competitors aren’t – and it really fills the gaps between installs. (We get our CO2 and equipment for those installs through Linde Canada and they’ve been great.) 2 Crows Brewing here in Halifax is a complete BeerTech setup. We did their draft system, but we also set up their bulk CO2, installed the CO2 system they require for the brewing process, canning, and bottling. We supply all of that and we do the installation wherever they need it for their operation. We even custom-built storage towers to their specifications for them. They didn’t want tap handles across the bar in front of people’s faces; they wanted bartenders to be able to look across and speak to people without any obstructions and we made that possible. We do tap installations and growler-fill stations for craft breweries and private liquor stores all over.”
BeerTech’s custom tap installation resume includes a 1950s-style ice box and a vintage French oak wine barrel.
And while the rental division at Beer Tech is, as Ken explained, more of a charity than anything else, it’s getting the name out there through a clientele that wouldn’t otherwise be interacting with draught systems technology.
“If you’re going to a cottage or camping or fishing, that kind of thing and you want to dispense some draft we offer units called Jockey Boxes for rental. A Jockey Box is essentially a cooler with a 120-foot cooling coil inside of it. You fill it with water and ice and get the coil nice and cold and then when the draft is dispensed from the keg it travels through the stainless steel coil and cools it and it comes out cold. You don’t need any power, any electricity, for the Jockey Box so you can dispense anywhere you want. If you have enough people and the beer is going to be consumed, it’s a lot easier to carry your beer in a Jockey Box rather than hauling around cans or bottles. It’s also a lot more environmentally friendly because this way you’re not leaving a bunch of trash behind. It’s also just neat to be able to dispense beer at a get-together or on a fishing trip. It definitely has its advantages.”
“We also have Kegerators, which are single-door keg fridges,” he continued. “We rent those out for weddings, stag parties, bachelor parties, and beer events because some of the smaller breweries don’t have mobile units. Most of the time it’s breweries and restaurants who are heading to a beer or wine show and they need a unit and more often than not we end up just loaning it to them.”
For more information about BeerTech’s draught system technologies, including eco-friendly water systems, visit beertech.ca.
By Jamie Barrie