May 30, 2019
CRAFTING WITH CONSCIENCE
Upstreet Craft Brewing opened its first location in Charlottetown, P.E.I., in June 2015. Since then, it's expanded to include Craft Beer Corner on Kent Street; a new retail presence at the soon-to-be-opened Founders Food Hall and Market; Upstreet BBQ Brewhouse in Dartmouth, N.S.; and innovative new products including East Coast Craft Soda now distributed across Atlantic Canada. “The inspiration for the craft soda came when my wife was pregnant,” says Upstreet CEO Mitch Cobb. “She was buying different sodas for nonalcoholic cocktails. I saw a gap in the market and decided to fill it.”
This drive and imagination has seen Cobb -- with degrees in anthropology, international development, education and business -- twice named a top 50 CEO in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Business Magazine. With rapid expansion come challenges though, and Cobb is grateful for his mentorship through Food Island Partnership’s Food Propel program. "They were an enormous help to my team and me. Our mentors provided a variety of perspectives and had a major impact on our confidence.”
Cobb’s deep commitment to community is integral to Upstreet's success. “We believe in P.E.I and want to do good while engaging our customers," says Cobb. “Consumers understand this and align with companies that share their values.” It's also part of his enthusiasm for the recently formed P.E.I. Craft Brewers Alliance and the sector's burgeoning role in the province. "P.E.I. food tourism is huge. Our beer, local wines and spirits -- along with great restaurants, chefs and food producers -- are part of the entire package."
It's also a source of pride for Cobb that Upstreet was the first P.E.I. business to receive B-Corp certification -- issued to companies using business innovation as a force for good and measured by their social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
When considering the future, Cobb is typically thoughtful: “It’s a rapidly evolving industry. You have to be agile and willing to change at a moment’s notice. We'll continue growing our brand, with new product lines and spaces, and more ventures off Island, but we're rooted here. Hops are being grown locally now and two malt houses just opened -- all new industries down the line. That’s what it's all about -- supporting and growing local talent.”
By Magner Ink (www.magnerink.com). This is one in a series of articles on the P.E.I. Food Cluster.