In a recent quest to find a custom growler to celebrate the launching of our new and improved VanCity Drinks App, I stumbled upon North City Growlers. Based out of Winnipeg, North City is pushing the boundaries when it comes to the custom growler game. They boast a collection of growlers that will satisfy any beer nerd’s wildest whim! All hand etched by the creator and self-proclaimed craft beer lover, Daivin Macdonald.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Daivin to pick his brain about his inspiration, managing a business while raising a family, and the intense process behind customizing growlers.
Q: When did you start North City Growlers?
A: We launched the business and sold our first growler in October 2014. The idea for North City Growlers came during a family trip to California. We stopped into a small brewery in Cambria and there was this cool jug behind the bar. I asked the owner what it was and he told us all about growlers. We spent the next year talking about potential business ideas to do with growlers and started seriously developing the business in the summer of 2014.
Q: Have you always been a craft beer enthusiast or is it something you’ve grown to love?
A: I’ve always loved good beer and have made an attempt to try as many different brands and styles as possible – both at home and especially when traveling. For the longest time, we only had two craft breweries in Winnipeg and I would gravitate to one (Half Pints Brewing). They have 4 or 5 styles throughout the year but continually do small batches of really great beer that is available until they sell out. Beer lovers have to support our craft brewers – not because it’s trendy or cool but because they are creating employment, opportunity and collaboration in our communities. Luckily, the craft beer industry in general has continued to grow leaps and bounds in the last few years and it’s really exciting to be a part of it.
Q: Any tips for running your own business and raising a family at the same time?
A: The reception we’ve received to our custom growlers has been beyond our wildest expectations. We opened shop as the growler phenomenon was exploding and our customers have been incredibly supportive. The majority of our growler orders are designed and etched after my wife and I come home from our regular day jobs, play with and feed our 4-year-old and 1 year old, and put them to bed. It can be exhausting, but then we get a message from one of our customers about how much they love their growler or how excited their husband or boyfriend or brother was to receive it as a gift. It may sound cliché, but that puts a smile on my face and helps make all the effort worthwhile.
I do most the designing and etching and overall business stuff. My wife provides a sounding board and is the most supportive person on the planet. She takes care of the family, the house and a million other things when I’m busy with orders. Although I’m the face of the business, she is the only reason it is as successful as it is.
We don’t take ourselves too seriously. I mean, we’re talking about big jugs filled with beer. We have a small message at the bottom of our site that says “Shop powered by beer. No really, beer is powering this site”, because right beside the custom growler we’re working on is usually a pint of something that was just poured from one of our (many) growlers.
Q: Describe (in simple terms) the steps to make a North City custom growler!
A: We have design templates where customers can customize the text within the template, but we also do fully customized designs. Once an order is received I communicate with the customer to make sure I understand their idea. I then design something and send the customer a proof for their review. Sometimes I get it on the first try and sometimes it takes a little tweaking to match the design with the customer’s idea.
All of our products come with unlimited design revisions to make sure the customer is 100% happy with the design. Once approved, I start on etching the growler. The glass and ceramic growlers are etched by hand and the stainless-steel growlers are etched using an automated laser engraver. All the work is done in our home and we’re very proud of the work we do. The customer will always be dealing with me throughout their order and I try and ensure they’re in the loop from the time they submit the order to the time they receive the growler in the mail.
I was drawn to Daivin and North City Growlers when I learned about his dedication to the craft beer scene and true love for the industry. As Daivin mentioned, we have to support our craft brewers, not because it’s trendy but because it supports our communities and economy. Not to mention it’s a superior product! A custom growler is the perfect gift for that beer lover in your circle. Impress the hipster girl behind the counter of your local brewery with a custom growler from North City Growlers. Place your order today and enjoy a hand crafted Canadian product made with love!
For more information: