Chris Heier

Brewmaster and co-Owner, Half Hitch Brewing

What did you do before? I worked in the technology industry for a small startup called InnerVision Medical Technologies and founded a company using GPU computing platforms for DNA analysis. How did you get into craft beer? Wildwood brewpub had a dark ale that I got hooked on. I spent a lot of time trying to find a similar beer. Couldn’t, but I did find a lot of fantastic beers. Your hallmark style of beer? My favourite at our brewery: Shotgun Wedding brown ale. Comes off more like a porter, which I like. Dark beer got me into craft beer, so I guess dark beers tend to be a bit of a go-to for me. What is it you love about this craft, this business? I make money making beer. What’s not to love? Seriously, there is no more quintessentially social beverage than beer. Beer practically created modern agricultural societies. No wonder it is the social drink of choice worldwide. Communities do good by supporting breweries, and breweries attract people to communities. This allows us to have an impact on our community. I find this very rewarding, and a great story beyond what’s in the can. What is your ambition? Expansion is always a goal. Not many brewery owners would say otherwise. Always wanted to live in Japan – opening a brewpub there would be pretty cool. Craft versus big beer business? Business is business. We compete or we die. We have a great story. It’s a passion of love, but also frustrating – to see people sample my beer only to leave with macro breweries beer, even if they admit ours tastes fantastic. Outside of beer, things you love? Too much. I have my pilot’s license so I’d like to go flying again. I’d like more time for the violin. I’d like to build and race rally cars. Whose work do you admire? Sam Calagione. His book “Brewing Up a Business” is one of the first books I read getting started. Met him at a Craft Brewers Conference in San Francisco. He has a fantastic vision for his brewery, Dogfish Head. Anything that needs to change about the industry? Ours is one of the most highly-regulated industries in the world. The focus should be on public safety. We create an intoxicant – no getting around that. But, most regulators feel they should tell us how to do business. We are stuck having to ask permission to see if an idea is allowed. Unfortunate, because we want to innovate. Anything else? I’m always interested in talking to people to help their dreams of starting a business. If my experiences inspire others to create their own path and succeed, that’s a win in my books.

Chris Heier  Brewmaster  |  Half Hitch Brewing, Cochrane, Alberta