Just as HFX Wanderers FC have had to do since the early stages of 2020, Garrison Brewing Co. — one of the club’s foundational partners — has embraced change and uncomfortability in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proudly Atlantic Canadian since pouring their first pint back in 1997, Garrison services 200+ restaurants and bars across the Maritimes, boasts two Halifax based taprooms and provides refreshments at the Wanderers Grounds during home matches. On March 15 of last year, all of those venues were forced to close immediately, a reality Brian Titus, the brewery’s President and Founder, likened to ‘driving off a cliff’ upon reflection.
“2020 and a chunk of 2021 is a time we’d rather not relive anytime soon,” said Titus. “but it was all about pivot, it was all about adapting and we had to do that in our business.”
After 19 months, we can all get back together again ⚽️🌊
For HFX, adapting meant heading to Prince Edward Island for a shortened 2020 season before packing for Winnipeg for the opening month of this year’s campaign.
As the Wanderers played on with supporters watching on from home, Garrison also did their part to ensure Haligoninans didn’t go without the IPA’s and lagers they dearly missed from nights at the pub and in the stands lost during lockdown — offering home delivery and increased supply at local liquor stores to meet the growing demand.
“We’re in our 24th year of business right now so we’ve learned a few tricks over the years and at the end of the day we aren’t going anywhere… but it was impressive to watch the Wanderers adapt with just one year under their belt.”
With no in-market action to make profit off, Garrison still continued to prioritize their relationship with the Wanderers during the pandemic with two sides continuing to share a common goal: To strengthen the sense of community and local pride within the city despite social restrictions. It was in this mutual mindset that the two collaborated to create the ‘Wanderers Tall Ship Light’ back in April and what initially kickstarted the partnership two years ago according to Titus.
“I loved the vibe of what they were going for, the whole idea of connecting with the community and really anchoring this team in Halifax and hoping for the response back, which they’ve got in spades.
“The Wanderers have done a really good job connecting with locals and we’re just proud to be a part of that… you can tell it’s important to the team and it’s definitely important to us as a local producer, so it’s just a perfect fit.”
Although support for HFX during the past year and a half has been steady from Garrison and the rest of the community, the return of the live matchday experience has only bolstered the relationship with the club once again suiting up where they belong.
It’s difficult for Titus to put into words what it is that makes the atmosphere at the Wanderers Grounds so special, but with a return to full capacity crowds on the horizon, the sentiment of the occasion will only grow stronger in the opinion of the Garrison founder.
“There’s something about soccer, I don’t know what it is, the crowd just gets super energized. I really noticed it at the very first home game back in 2019, I’m looking around and people have got painted faces, everybody is decked out with scarves, jerseys, hats… you don’t have to be someone who follows the stats intently, it’s just about coming out and having fun.
“It’ll just be so positive to look around and see Halifax fans in the stands again, in all blue, decked out in Wanderers gear, holding a Tall Ship Light with the team logo right on the can… it’s an amazing moment.”
Prorated Memberships are still available for purchase for the remaining six matches of the season. Memberships come with an additional 20% off Wanderers retail, invites to exclusive events and more!