The owners of an Okotoks brewery are heading to Japan this weekend. 

Mark and Lisa Watts, founders and operators of Hub Town Brewing, will be participating in a trade mission organized by the Calgary Economic Development Trade team

Hub Town was one of four Alberta breweries chosen for the mission, which is intended to give the chosen Alberta businesses a chance to expose their products to a new market.

Lisa is pretty thrilled to have been among the few businesses hand-picked for the trip, considering how many options there were.

“We’re around 150 breweries in Alberta now, so we’re in pretty amazing company being offered that opportunity for sure.”

They’ll be in Japan for about 10 days, during which time they’ll meet with prospective buyers and learn about the exporting process.

“They’re going to take us to the Canadian embassy in Tokyo, and we’re going to do about four days of meeting with exporters and retailers, touring the different places that could bring our beer in, restaurants, shops, that sort of thing. We’re going to learn from people at the embassy how to export to them, what we have to do, and meet as many of the people involved as we can.”

About a month ago, Mark and Lisa shipped samples of four of their beers over to Japan, which will be waiting for them upon their arrival.

“We tried to hit four different kinds of palettes. The first one we decided on was the Mexican Lime Lager, mainly because Japan has a lot of really incredible lagers that are their best sellers, but we didn’t want to try and compete with their lagers, but we wanted something that would be very familiar to them… Then we decided to bring our ‘I Dream in Tangerine,’ our New England-style IPA. We wanted to make sure what it’s like to have a New England style IPA that hasn't had anything put into it like extracts or fruits.” explains Lisa.

They also sent their ‘Berry Manly,’ to provide a unique fruity flavour that will stick out, as well as their Summer Wit, which has garnered a few award wins in Alberta.

Lisa is pretty excited to explore the possibilities of spreading Hub Town beyond Alberta’s borders.

“This is our first international exporting opportunity, so hopefully we have more after this. We’ve been offered an opportunity maybe in the Philippines as well. We’ve been asked to bring our beer into BC, so that may be coming up soon, so we’re seeing some big opportunities right now, that’s about as exciting as it gets for a company like ours… We are in all kinds of places in Alberta, north and south of us in the province, so that’s been pretty good. But for these types of things to fall on our plate, we could hardly say no.”