The Do Gooders

Upstreet Craft Brewing first Island company to gain B Corp accreditation

When you think of a craft brewery, what are the first things that come to mind? High-quality, local beer—yes. A crowd of hop enthusiasts—yes. A hip place to hang out—yes. Now stop right there! Upstreet Craft Brewing is all of these things, and then some. Most recently, the Charlottetown-based brewery became PEI’s first accredited B Corporation.

I’m sitting across the table from Mitch Cobb, CEO and co-founder of Upstreet, at the craft brewery’s midtown headquarters and taproom. Cobb, who holds an MBA degree, embarked on this adventure alongside Mike Hogan, co-founder and head brewmaster. In their past lives, Cobb held various positions in education and business-related arenas, while Hogan was a computer engineer.

Mitch Cobb, CEO and co-founder of Upstreet Crafti Brewing, believes in business being a force for good//Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

A taste for good beer and an unquenchable curiosity when it came to home brewing are what brought Cobb and Hogan together in the first place. A vague and, some might argue, slightly crazy idea turned into a business plan, which eventually gave birth to Upstreet. The brewery opened its door on Allen Street on June 26, 2015, several years after the pair first conceived the idea.

Besides a love for beer, Cobb and Hogan share a love for their home province and wanted to create jobs in PEI and support the local economy.

“I had many friends that had to leave [PEI] after university and tried to come back but there were no jobs”, Cobb says. Today Upstreet Craft Brewing employs 35 staff on a full- and part-time basis.
But being a Do-Gooder (pun intended) doesn’t stop there. Upstreet Craft Brewing’s recent certification as a B Corporation is the latest coup for the socially-minded co-founders, who also received StartUp Canada’s Social Enterprise Award in November of last year.

Upstreet Craft Brewing offers customers the opportunity to be part of its Mug Club, which includes access to handcrafted mugs made by The Village Pottery//Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

Certified B Corporations represent a global movement intent on using business as a force for good. An intense assessment process is required in order to become a certified B Corp. The minimum threshold is to acquire 80 out of 200 points in various areas, but the philosophy is to increase one’s score over time. Creating social and environmental impacts are at the heart of the movement and well-aligned with the duo’s ethos and goals for Upstreet. They lead their company with a team approach and engage staff in decision-making and strategic planning.

“Eighty percent of our hops come from New Brunswick, and 60 percent of our malt is from the Maritimes”, Cobb says, highlighting their commitment to sourcing locally. “We are also investing in local farms to start growing malt [on the Island]. The grains we use in the brewing process are going back to farms to feed cattle and pigs. Brewing equipment comes from PEI’s DME. For us, it’s about suppliers, employees and the community.” In fact, in 2016 alone the brewery provided Island farmers with 75,000 kg of spent grains to use as livestock feed.

The brewery offers seasonal beers throughout the year, alongside its flagship brews//Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

And being rooted in the community is extremely important to the folks behind Upstreet. They, like their Common(s) people and being Rhuby Social (can’t help it!) have seen their tap room become a hub for the local community.

“It has taken on its own life. We started out by offering the young neighbourhood across the street a place to gather[…]now people approach us and ask to do their events and fundraisers here,” Cobb says. “And unassociated guests [of the brewery] get pulled into those events.”

In 2016 they helped host 50 community events, contributed almost $20,000 to community groups and helped support local artists with over $8,000 in funding. But for Cobb and Hogan, being involved “is not really about giving money away, but about what you do, who you employ, how you employ them, and which suppliers you work with.”

If you’re a part of the Upstreet community, you’ll already know that the brewery has a penchant for trying out new ideas, like its Adult Colouring Nights and Yoga in the Brewery, as well as continuous product development. While customers are still reveling in the brewery’s launch of their Day Drift craft soda line, there’s no doubt that Cobb and Hogan have plenty more in store for the brewery in the coming months and years. And you can be sure that underpinning every pint or bottle of Upstreet beverage you consume, there’s a commitment to do good. Cheers to that!

Get your copy of the latest Salty at Upstreet Craft Brewing//Photo Credit: Jessica L. Fritz

About Jessica Fritz

Jessica is "from away" in the truest sense of its meaning: her roots are in Germany. She immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 2010 and only recently moved to PEI. As a passionate home cook Jessica likes to explore different types of cuisines including her native one. "Thinking globally, buying locally" is her foodie mantra and growing her own veggies will be her next big adventure. Putting words on paper has always been a way to express herself. Hence, writing for Salty combines her love for food and the written word while at the same time discovering PEI's thriving culinary landscape.

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