Ace Hill has become a popular beer company in Ontario, and while we have achieved a lot of brand awareness and distribution since launching a year and a half ago, we’ve got a message for our fellow dreamers and entrepreneurs: don’t be fooled by any appearance of “overnight success.”
It may be a cliche by now that “startups are hard” and we’re definitely not here to dispel that myth. Startups are very, very, VERY hard. It’s hard to develop a product your customers will love. It’s hard to grow sales. It’s hard to build a brand. It’s hard to manage cash.
It’s hard to appreciate the journey, and not lose your mind about the fact that you haven’t yet arrived at the destination. It’s hard to take a leap out of your comfort zone, to enter the arena and embrace risk, to accept the possibility of failure and go pursue your dreams at all costs.
It’s hard, but it can also be fucking awesome.
We could spend a lot of time talking about this topic, but we wanted to take a step back and share a little more about our story, specifically our salad days. Today, we’re a beer company that celebrates a lifestyle of “good times and good friends,” but our backstory began over five years ago when our co-founder Blake Anderson elevated his passion for beer and started making beers out of his garage. We wanted to provide more insight into the journey with the hope that it might encourage others — home brewers or any entrepreneur — to take their passions to the next level. Herewith, some highlights:
This was Blake’s brewing set-up at his family cottage near Peterborough, Ontario in fall 2013. At this time, Blake had a full-time corporate job as a business consultant. He didn’t mind his job, but it’s not what he loved doing on weekends at the cottage.
Back in the city, he grew hops on his balcony near Trinity Bellwoods in Toronto. These are young Hallertau hops.
As he devoted more time to the craft, he set up a little garage brewing operation. In this picture, kegs are being chilled for carbonation.
Above is an early batch of Pilsner from 2013.
Blake had encouragement from his wife, who got to drink a lot of free beer, even though there were some shitty batches along the way.
By 2014, Blake had spent countless hours making beer and upon submitting his beers to national home brewing competitions, won several awards. Pictured above: some beer medals and small batches of IPA, Cream Ale and Pilsner.
While Blake made beer for friends’ parties and weddings, things got more serious when he started talking with his friends Mike Wagman and Noah Gill about starting a beer business. Together they would host beer tastings comparing Blake’s beers to other beers they liked on the commercial market. This was also a good excuse to drink lots of beer in the sun, enjoy lots of cheese and devour lots of Pizzeria Libretto. In the photo above, Blake’s in the bottom right and Noah’s in the bottom left.
Admittedly, turning this hobby into a fledgling startup was a beast that required a ton of hard work, strategy and sleepless nights. But that’s a different story for a different day. For now, trust us when we say: we’ve been there and don’t be afraid to believe you can do it too.
For anyone looking for some encouragement along the way, please feel free to reach out to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.