While studying science at the University of Guelph, Nate Ferguson, Richard Preiss and Angus Ross all worked in a wine yeast research lab on campus. However, all three of them were more interested in beer and have all been active homebrewers as well with Nate teaching as a brewing instructor at the Niagara College Brewmaster Program.
With a passion for beer and with a background in microbiology the three friends realized that no one was growing liquid yeast for craft brewers in Canada. Realizing this gap in the industry, they decided to try and be the first in this field and started Escarpment Laboratories.
Escarpment Laboratories is a liquid yeast supplier which gives Canadian craft breweries access to high quality, domestic liquid yeast cultures. “We aim to elevate the quality and distinction of Canadian beer through high quality and unique yeast culture as well as quality control services,” they explained.
Different strains of yeast can harness and alter the flavour of your beer and working with a place like Escarpment Laboratories allows for brewers to have access to different types of yeasts more easily. As quoted in the Globe and Mail, Chris Conway, a brewer based in Toronto mentioned: “It costs almost as much for the yeast as the shipping from labs in places like California to Toronto.” Making yeast more accessible to brewers like Chris is part of what makes Escarpment Laboratories so popular among the beer industry.
However, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for these business partners. Although it’s easy to grow yeast at the lab scale it was challenging for them to scale up. Refining the production process took two years and they’re still learning new things about their yeasts to improve their processes. On top of that, Nate, Richard and Angus are all scientists, not business people and learning how to manage a business was a steep learning curve for the three.
Even though starting a business has come with its challenges, Escarpment Laboratories customers are excited about their products and using their products to make high quality, innovative beers. “This year at the Canadian Brewing Awards, beers made with Escarpment Labs yeasts won five golds and four bronze medals, and we are quite proud of the accomplishments of our clients,” they shared.
Part of their success to date can be attributed to receiving help from their Futurpreneur Canada mentor Peter Waugh. Peter and the team at Escarpment Laboratories met regularly since receiving financing from Futurpreneur and he was extremely helpful in several aspects of their business. “He helps with building strategies to grow sales, designing a financial plan and more,” they explained. The team at Escarpment Laboratories stressed that it is critical to have a mentor when starting your business. “Having access to people who have been through this before can save time and money, and also provide reassurance during more challenging periods of the start-up.”
Futurpreneur can’t wait to see how Escarpment Laboratories continues to grow their business and provide a unique product to craft brewers in Canada. You can learn more about them by visiting their website at: http://www.escarpmentlabs.com/
Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Professional, laurenmarinigh.com