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Big Rock Brewery founder Ed McNally, 89

The lawyer and farmer who founded Calgary’s Big Rock Brewery has died at age 89.

Ed McNally, who founded what’s now Canada’s second largest Canadian-owned brewery in 1985, had retired as the company’s CEO in 2012, remaining its “chairman emeritus.” The cause of his death late Tuesday was not released.

“Ed leaves behind a legacy larger than life and we will forever be grateful, not only for this great company he created, but also for the lasting impression he has left on the lives of everyone who had the privilege to know him,” Bob Sartor, the company’s current CEO, said in a release Wednesday.

McNally was born in Lethbridge, Alta. in 1925 and worked as a journalist before becoming a lawyer in Calgary, farming on weekends, growing fruit and vegetables, raising cattle and producing barley even before his involvement in brewing.

McNally’s roles as a farmer and businessman extended to positions as a director with Alberta Barley Growers, the Western Barley Growers Association, Alberta Genetics, Algonquin Oil and Gas and Huntly Cattle Co. Scotland.

Big Rock, now the longest-running independently owned craft brewery in the country, sells into nine provinces and three territories in Canada, and into Korea. It’s expanded aggressively in recent years, now running three operations in Calgary and a new Vancouver brewery. [Related story]

The company in 2013 booked net income of $2.55 million on $184.8 million in revenue, down from $4.14 million on $217.6 million in 2012.

Sales volumes, the company said in March, were “negatively impacted” in its core Alberta market last year by a “significant influx of craft beer products in the marketplace” on top of “the lingering effects on some customers of severe flooding in the second quarter.”

Sartor in 2012 began rationalizing the company’s beer portfolio, “eliminating beers that were incongruous with our vision of being an innovative craft brewer.”

Announcing his retirement that year, McNally said he looked forward to “having more time to spend with my other two passions: my wife Linda and my berry plantation.”

No funeral arrangements had yet been announced as of Thursday. — Network


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