How a family trip to San Diego started a Toronto Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer business.

In November of 2019, Harmon’s co-founder Steve Abrams decided to take a break from alcohol. But what would fill that void?  Beer had always been Steve’s go-to for obvious reasons (20 years in the craft beer industry will do that), but Toronto’s non-alcoholic beer scene wasn’t exactly thriving. Sure, there were a few options available, but none of them had the flavour Steve was after.  He knew there must be something better out there.

 

Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill - Coronado, California

 

One month into Steve’s dry spell, the Abrams family took a holiday trip to San Diego. On the evening of their arrival, he dutifully headed out to grab some groceries and wine for his wife, Patti. Steve returned from the liquor store grinning ear-to-ear, holding a bag full of non-alc craft beer cans that he’d never seen before.  With so much variety to sample, he’d hit the motherload in sunny Southern California!  Steve spent the rest of the trip gleefully trying as many U.S. non-alcoholic craft beers as he could find. They weren’t all to his taste, but most were delicious and satisfied the craving.  An idea was also forming at the back of his mind.

 


Some of Steve's discoveries from his San Diego adventure

 

 

The N/A beer exploration didn’t end when Steve returned home to Toronto. He started mail ordering cans from all over the place. Boxes of beer arrived at the Abrams household on a weekly basis. Initially, Patti thought her husband was starting a distribution company, but Steve was formulating a much bolder plan…

Fast forward to a warm spring day in the first year of the pandemic. Patti was seated comfortably in their Leslieville backyard doing a crossword. Steve (still abstaining from booze) excitedly emerged from the house to announce that he was going to start a non-alc brand - at a time when alcohol sales in Ontario had increased $2 million a day (yes, you read that right)! And it wouldn't be just any non-alc beer either; it was also going to be craft brewed and certified organic.  Patti smiled and nodded her approval, hoping he knew what he was getting  himself into. She managed to complete the rest of her crossword uninterrupted.

Two morals to this story: Travelling will kickstart some great ideas…and running errands for your spouse can be life altering!

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