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Grading the social media presence of local breweries

Posted by Ben Johnson / February 22, 2012

Toronto beer social mediaWithout the advertising dollar of the multinational corporations with which they often compete, many of Toronto's local brewers have embraced social media as their chief marketing vehicle of choice. And some have proven that they can do so exceptionally well. Here are seven local breweries that have shown that, in addition to supplying Toronto with great craft beers, they are web savvy businesses interested in social community building.

Mill Street Brewery
With over 4800 followers on both their Facebook page and Twitter profile, Mill Street has proven that they're adept at spreading the word about their beer to the public.
Mill Street is also very good at featuring announcements about promotional events being held at the various bars that serve their beers.
Both feeds are clearly frequently maintained and both feature quick responses to public inquiries — their Twitter account notably even features a response to a user on his blackberry to express frustration about the level of service they're receiving at one of Mill Street's Brew Pubs.
Grade: A+

Junction Craft Brewing
Owner and Proprietor Tom Paterson's personal Twitter feed and Junction Craft's Facebook page are frequently updated with relevant links and both engage followers and other organizations. Junction Craft's website is also effective and features an interactive map of where to find their beer around town, a regularly updated blog, and links to their other social media outlets, including their YouTube channel.
Grade: A+

Great Lakes Brewery
Clearly Great Lakes embraces the more genuine community element of social media and their Facebook page reads a lot like the profile of a friend who also happens to run a brewery. They post outbound links to hockey-related content and the personal interests of whomever's running the page on a given day. Similarly, their photo albums are dedicated to social events held at their facility. Great Lakes clearly understands the role of social media to start conversations about their products and they've even made attempts to create twitter hasthtags specific to their product such as #ProjectX to promote their monthly one-off beer events and #GLBjubilee in honour of their 25th year in business.
Grade: A

Sawdust City Brewery
Sawdust's Facebook page features links to video tastings of their beers and both their Twitter and facebook page are being used to provide updates when new restaurants and bars start selling their beer.
Sawdust also has a frequently updated blog written by Sam Corbeil, their Brewmaster. It's a well-written, up-to-date blog about all the goings-on related to the brewery. With just four followers so far and almost no comments, it isn't a huge hit, but it's still a very new beer and the idea of offering so much direct access to information about the company is appealing in an era when people like to know as much as possible about the food and beer their consuming.
Grade: A

Spearhead Brewing Company
Spearhead's Facebook page features photos of their beer being enjoyed and promoted at various Ontario venues and food and wine expos and they also smartly and frequently interract with the public and other local organizations. Most notably though, Spearhead is wisely using social media to directly engage their public with savvy promotions that encourage user-generated content, for example: "Win a $100 gift card by uploading pics of yourself with a Spearhead!"
Grade: A

Amsterdam Brewing Company
Amsterdam's Twitter feed enjoys a popular following and also communicates directly with local businesses and followers. Unlike any other brewery here, their Facebook page features a splash page asking that you "like" their fan page before you can even peruse what it has to offer, which includes swag-promotions, conversations regarding products, and advance notice regarding up-coming one-off offerings. While there doesn't seem to much of an attempt to drive traffic to their website, Google's smart enough to index it first in search results for the brand. Disappointingly, there are currently no listings under their "events" tab there and the photo gallery does not appear to have been updated since 2010.
Grade: B

Kensington Brewing Company
You might say that owner Brock Shepperd's approach to social media is appropriately suited to the laid-back vibe of his beer's namesake neighbourhood. He clearly understands the importance of social media to a thriving brewery and keeps his beer's Twitter feed frequently updated, mainly by engaging other beer fans and organizations with direct messages. Kensington Brewing Company's less-frequently updated Facebook page isn't exactly stellar and a sparsely updated website doesn't have too many bells and whistles but clearly Shepperd gets the draw of the conversational approach to social media.
Grade: B-



I / February 22, 2012 at 01:53 pm
Myself, I prefer the underground brewers who rely upon word of mouth to make themselves known in the City. There is nothing quite like a rich and smooth IPA made by some craft brewers who lovingly slaved over the vats for the sake of my enjoyment?

No sir, there isn't.

Ratpick / February 22, 2012 at 02:04 pm
"Grading the social media presence of local breweries"

What a strange thing to want to do on a Wednesday afternoon. Oh well, I'll give you a page view anyway.

MattB / February 22, 2012 at 02:13 pm
Interesting typo ... Great "Leaks" ... that's what I usually have after enjoying their beers ...
Connie / February 22, 2012 at 02:21 pm
I don't really care what a beer's facebook profile is like so long as it tastes good...
pz / February 22, 2012 at 02:35 pm
umm, Steamwhistle??

@MattB: hah! great catch
Frank replying to a comment from pz / February 22, 2012 at 02:43 pm
I don't think Steamwhistle can really be counted among the "little guys" any more. They've clearly got a massive marketing budget. Some of these seem like they're just one dude on twitter.
McRib / February 22, 2012 at 02:55 pm
whatever happened to the Parkdale brewery? Was that just a trolling attempt as was highly suspected at the time?
Ben replying to a comment from McRib / February 22, 2012 at 03:03 pm
I've been trying to get to the bottom of that for blogTO readers for a while now. Stay tuned...
Jordan / February 22, 2012 at 03:13 pm
I agree with Ratpick - this is a strange article, who is this actually relevant to? Who actually reads beer facebook and twitter feeds - who has time for that?!
Marina replying to a comment from Frank / February 22, 2012 at 03:19 pm
Hey Frank - Just want to say that it's one girl behind the Twitter & Facebook of Steam Whistle: Me! :)
Marina replying to a comment from pz / February 22, 2012 at 03:19 pm
Thanks for mentioning Steam Whistle :)
Yes replying to a comment from MattB / February 22, 2012 at 03:34 pm
Amazing and true!
Hardik Mahora replying to a comment from Jordan / February 22, 2012 at 03:37 pm
This is a great adverteisment!
nice / February 22, 2012 at 04:19 pm
nothing wrong with free advertisement for great local brewers!
roy / February 22, 2012 at 04:40 pm
No Steam Whistle???? That's a pretty big faux pas! People who know, understand that they are a craft brewery, they do well, but they can't be called a big brewery, visit the sleeman/sapporo brewery or now that's what you call big!
James / February 22, 2012 at 06:15 pm
How does Steam Whistle not qualify as a local craft brewery??? BlogTO fail
Tomas / February 22, 2012 at 07:55 pm
Where's Black Oak on this? They have a great online presence!
Reid / February 22, 2012 at 09:09 pm
... Where's Steam Whistle?!? I don't think it gets any more local or craft than that. And they kick ass in social media.
Richard Roe / February 22, 2012 at 09:23 pm
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pz replying to a comment from Marina / February 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm
No probs, Marina. Felt it was my duty as a Torontonian to mention this oversight... now how about throwing a 12-pack suitcase my way?? :)
Gaber / February 23, 2012 at 12:10 am
Make a $1.75 Tallboy and I'll like you on facebook...
Kurt Yates / February 23, 2012 at 09:33 am
I don't think this is a strange article at all. In fact, it's all too relevant considering I stumbled upon it while ON THE INTERNET. These hosers who criticize social media probably wouldn't even be on this page had it not been for Facebook, etc. I frequently receive updates from all the craft brewers I have searched for online, and appreciate discovering new brewers like I did from this article. Bravo and keep it up!
Marina replying to a comment from pz / February 23, 2012 at 09:43 am
Want to come by for a pint to our brewery? I'll host!
Jay / February 23, 2012 at 10:28 am
Cam Heaps is a DB and thinks his brewery is to good to be part of the Ontario Craft Brewers, so Steam Whistle should not be in this list. Great job BlogTO
Marina / February 23, 2012 at 11:27 am
Steam Whistle is a proud member and supporter of the Ontario Craft Brewers:
Andrea / February 23, 2012 at 11:30 am
How does Great Lakes Brewery (with one of the weakest ever craft beer brands) make this list, where Steam Whistle (with arguably one of the strongest, if not THE strongest) doesn't?

J replying to a comment from Marina / February 23, 2012 at 11:50 am
sorry my bad! could have sworn he had an issue with the OCB. I guess they should be on this list.
Beth / February 23, 2012 at 03:25 pm
Good article. You should also check out Cameron's Brewing. They have a strong online presence and the beer is great too... esp the Doppelbock!
obnoxious / February 25, 2012 at 03:27 pm
Dear Blog To

I think you seriously have to re-evaluate the people writing your posts about beer. Since you have started to increase your public awareness of craft beer, the topics and reviews have been pretty dull, inacurate and a poor representation of this community. There is far more creativity in local craft breweries that are never mentioned on this site.

Don't just post about beer because its the cool thing now.

I give this post a solid C for lack of research. Step up your game.
Ben replying to a comment from obnoxious / February 27, 2012 at 05:11 pm
Please feel free to point out any inaccuracies and I'll happily fix them. I'd also love to hear which craft brewers you think I've overlooked in my ongoing beer coverage and I'd be happy to take a look.

Cute name.
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