The interview and writing of this article took place before the Cards made the decision to list the brewery for sale. Operations continue as normal at the brewery for now, you can read their full statement and follow them on Facebook for updates here.
GET TO KNOW THE CARDS
When Nate Card opted to forego law school a few years back and pitched the idea of starting a brewery to his older brother, Zack, both Cards knew they were taking a bit of a gamble. But so far, so good. Some funding from a Young Entrepreneurs’ program helped get Wild Card Brewing Company up and running and just four months into their initial run, continuous sales growth prompted a move to a larger building on Gotha Street in Quinte West.
“We started off small and we’re still small,” chuckles the younger Card, “but we’ve more than doubled our capacity since we started.”
In fact, a lot has changed since the brothers joined forces in 2015. New dad Nate spends much of his time completing an online Master’s degree in Computer Science while Zack recently became a councillor for the City of Quinte West. Yet, regardless of how full their respective plates appear, their work at Wild Card clearly remains a labour of love.
“It’s in our blood,” the elder Card declares about entrepreneurial life. “Our parents started businesses and growing up we’d run the cantine at the baseball diamond or rent a hot dog cart and that would be our summer jobs.”
Proud patrons of nearby shops and restaurants themselves, the Cards understand the value of promoting other businesses in the Quinte region. They credit a strong base of loyal, local customers for their own success and like to return the favour whenever possible. Sandwiches from the popular Trenton Deli and Bakery satisfy those looking for a snack between rounds of cornhole while the surrounding community provides many of the ingredients needed to make Wild Card beverages, including Notoriously Juicy, now available at the LCBO. Another flagship beer, Rudimentary, bills itself as a one hundred percent made-in-Ontario beverage, with three out of four main ingredients supplied by producers within a snug, nearby radius.
With no kitchen on site, the brothers steer clear of categorizing their operation as a destination-style brewery. Still, traffic to their small taproom holds steady, with several beer-seeking customers frequently opting to pull up chairs and stay a while. Ticketed events like stand-up comedy nights sell out quickly while trivia evenings and cornhole tournaments on their generously sized patio space regularly pull in business. The brewery also serves as a popular venue for self-catered events such as retirement or military posting parties.
Referring to themselves as two beer nerds with a passion for experimenting, the duo consistently works towards bringing new flavours and styles to market. Wild Card generally has four core beverages on tap at all times, including seasonal concoctions like their fruit-heavy smoothie sours.
“I think, like most small breweries, we try to make stuff we think we’d like ourselves,” claims Nate, declaring he and his brother always approach their craft in hopes both locals and visitors alike might associate Wild Card beer with the beautiful Quinte area. “We’re trying to capture that sort of terroir experience within Trenton.”