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P.E.I. brewer spills positive change into community during pandemic

In partnership with Moneris

Tuesday, October 19th 2021, 6:01 am - A Brighter Day shines a spotlight on everyday heroes who are making a difference. The Weather Network has partnered with Moneris to celebrate small businesses in Canada that are making an impact towards building a better world. In this episode, we bring you the story of local brewer, Mitch Cobb, who made it his mission to see the glass half full during an uncertain time.

In the wake of COVID-19, small business owners bore the brunt of the pandemic. Facing frequent closures and strict guidelines when open, owners are still recovering from its effects.

Despite all odds stacked against him, Mitch Cobb, CEO of Upstreet Craft Brewing (UCB) in Charlottetown, P.E.I., made it his mission to see the glass half full.

Mitch Cobb, CEO of Upstreet Craft Brewing. (Photo provided) Mitch Cobb, CEO of Upstreet Craft Brewing. (Photo provided)

“When COVID hit, restaurants were shut down, they were hit really hard and it impacted a big segment of our business,” explained Cobb. “The goals were twofold: one was to provide employment and the second was to give back to the community.”

Cobb, along with his business partner, Mike Hogan, first opened UCB in June of 2015.

UCB started as most beer companies do. A few friends sitting around slugging back homebrew and talking big game of dropping it all to open a brewery of our own, Cobb explained.

“The hardest thing about starting a brewery...we really didn’t know what we were getting into. If we knew what we were getting into, we probably wouldn’t have done it,” Cobb said with a laugh.

Fast forward two years and UCB was not only thriving, but became heavily involved in the community. In 2017, UCB became the first business on Prince Edward Island to gain B Corp Certification.

“It’s a certification process that looks at your social, environmental, and community impact. It looks at your company from your supply chain, to who you're hiring to how you treat your employees and how you’re giving back to the community,” said Cobb.

One example of a community initiative started by UCB in its early days was the “Do Good Fund.”

UCB donates ten per cent of the proceeds their Do Good fund that supports local community arts and initiatives (Photo provided) UCB donates ten per cent of the proceeds their Do Good Fund that supports local community arts and initiatives. (Photo provided)

“We decided we would donate ten per cent of the proceeds [from sales from their ‘Do Gooder American Pale’ Ale] to our Do Good Fund that supports local community arts and initiatives,” said Cobb.

“It has expanded and gone to a number of groups, small local arts, P.E.I. family violence prevention, women's shelter, Canadian mental health organization and an artist residency.”

While the team at UCB is well known for their long-standing generosity, the pandemic has provided the company with an even larger platform to show their support in the community.

“In the early days of COVID, we launched a hand sanitizer which we were able to provide to the local community and use any proceeds to give back to the community,” Cobb said. “We provided free hand sanitizer for non-profits and community groups who were seeking it out because in the early days of COVID, you couldn’t find it anywhere.”

With UCBs addition of a hand sanitizer factory, they were able to rehire employees who were temporarily let go due to the pandemic.

Upstreet Craft Brewing also offers non-alcoholic options (Photo provided) Upstreet Craft Brewing also offers non-alcoholic options. (Photo provided)


BRIGHTER DAY: Sharing inspiring stories from Canadians coast to coast


“A large portion of our staff was laid off and it was the opportunity to bring people back to work. Whether you were a server, or you worked in the kitchen or you were a delivery driver, everyone just came back together to make hand sanitizer.”

Along with helping the community stay safe, Cobb was also on a mission to give customers healthier drinking options, which many were grateful for during the height of the pandemic.

According to a study conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, seven out of ten Canadians were home more often than not during the height of the pandemic, and two out of ten reported an increase in alcohol consumption.

“Drinking too much beer can have an impact on your health. Initially when we first started telling people we were making a non-alcoholic beer, they said ‘Why? What’s the point?’ Then they try it and they immediately understand what it’s all about.”

UCB launched Libra, a non-alcoholic craft pale ale in October 2020 to give people alternative drinking options to help reduce their alcohol intake, especially during a time when many were forced to stay home.

“It has become one of our fastest selling products,” said Cobb.

UCB has managed to navigate and evolve with the pandemic, making positive changes inside its walls and out. However, Cobb highlights the importance of his employees and the customers that made it all possible.

Mitch Cobb says Upstreet Craft Brewing is so special because of the people (Photo provided) Mitch Cobb says Upstreet Craft Brewing is so special because of the people. (Photo provided)

“This place is so special because of the people,” expressed Cobb.

“Our mission statement is to refresh the community...it boils down to the team we have and their dedication to Upstreet and it’s our customers, who are loyal fans, who have been with us on this whole journey and that’s what makes us a family.”

To learn more about Mitch Cobb's mission, please watch the video that leads this article.

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