Who are you and what is your background?
Sara Yong, I’ve been homebrewing for a number of years with my partner, Matt Cowan, before turning our hobby into a business.
Your job and current title?
Co-Founder of Silly Sir Brewing Co.
In what city?
A word to define what type of worker you are:
Where does your interest in microbrewery come from?
It started as a homebrewer. Creating unique beer flavors, making friends in the community, winning awards, all mixed with an entrepreneurial spirit.
What makes your beer unique? Why?
Toronto is such a diverse city, and the food scene definitely shows that, so why not the beer? We want to bring flavors from around the world into Toronto’s craft beer. Fun fact: Easy Tiger is the #1 lemongrass beer in Toronto.
You are a gypsy brewery. Is it by choice or any a plan to open a brewery?
Yes, definitely. Our end goal is a brewpub. Contact is a mere stepping stone to getting there.
What tools are essential to your life (app, software)?
Google Calendar and pens and post-it notes.
What does your office space look like?
A 500 sq ft box in the sky in midtown Toronto, which is also our living quarters.
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
I keep a pretty tight to-do list and prioritize from there.
Any “tips” to improve productivity?
I find it helps to keep to a routine and has dedicated times and days for each task. Also, turn off notifications on your phone.
Can you give us a tour of your local craft beer brewery scene?
Sure – midtown is totally behind in the Toronto craft beer scene. We don’t really have a go-to watering hole, to be honest. But the Granite Brewery is always a safe bet.
How do you control the growth of your microbrewery?
Panic, then figure it out. (Joking, not joking)
What is your strategy for making your beer known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy?
We have a lot of success at festivals. You get your face out there and connect with people on a personal level. We are confident in our beer, so once we get people to taste it, we form that connection.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect? (Can you tell us about the message and reflection behind the design?)
Life (and beer) is too ridiculous to take seriously. We’ve been using our brand and logo since our first batch of homebrew in 2013 and it has stuck ever since. It wasn’t created by a panel of marketing experts.
But the official story goes as such. My partner Matt is a teacher and he says to his students one day “I want to start a brewery.” And the students reply “that’s silly, sir!”
Design: how was it designed? By who?
We try to design something easy for people to remember. It was designed by us, in our box in the sky.
What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?
Coffee. Honestly, motivation is always up and down. But you just have to reflect and look at what you’ve built and remembered your wins.
What is the best advice given to you?
Say yes, and figure it out later.
What are your end and start routines?
Start with coffee and end with knitting.
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
Finding the time and putting on the super extroverted salesperson hat. Our brewery is all still a part-time hustle for us so finding the time to do everything while still having a life and full-time jobs isn’t the easiest thing.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a brewery?
Probably don’t. There is so much to running a business that isn’t sexy, and that’s the majority of the time. Having fun and drinking beer is just the part that people see.
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?
A physical notebook for taking notes and planning my to-do lists. And sharp pencils.
Any new projects coming soon? (eg products, etc.)
Yep! We’ve got a summer seasonal release coming soon! Expect to see it in the LCBO and at events and festivals!
At the end of the day, what kind of beer do you drink to relax?
I’d love to say our own product – but ha, yeah probably not. I’ve been into funky mix-fermented things lately.