E Q U I P M E N T
Brewing Up Opportunity
A love of beer, a positive attitude and hard work launched AM Jade.
Now innovation and industry respect are taking them forward.
By Kelly Gray
When Rob Bondi and Al Merlo
saw the interior of the old
Molson plant in Calgary,
Alta., the wheels of opportunity started
to turn. The pair were childhood friends
who were working construction together.
The two took on a job at Calgary’s old Mol-son
brewery following the facility’s shut
down more than a decade ago. Inside, the
brewery was filled with piping, vessels and
equipment that still had life left in their
“We entered into a consignment deal
with Molson that was really our starting
place at AM Jade,” said AM Jade co-founder
Al Merlo, speaking about the launch of the
company back in 1997. He reports that they
were involved with cleaning out the bottle
shop at the site and could see the value in
the other assets. “This deal was one where
Molson covered our costs and we were able
to get the ball rolling on our business sell-ing
surplus and decommissioned brewing
Following the Molson arrangement,
things took off for the partners. Next, it
was a year in Seattle, Wash., following the
Rainier Brewing Company plant closure.
“We took equipment out and
shipped it all over,” Merlo said, noting
that in the early days they focused about
70 per cent on the U.S. market, but after
a few years they found themselves ship-ping
from places such as Japan when a
new Calgary brewer was looking for
The business plan is a simple one.
Brewing plant equipment can have a long
shelf life. When plants close, others can use
the systems. The cost to acquire recycled
kettles, boilers and fermentation tanks, as
well as cooling systems, storage tanks, kegs
and bottling/canning equipment; in addi-tion
to refrigeration and food-grade piping,
can be substantially lower than buying new.
“And, it keeps this material from landfills,
adding to the value in the commercial food
chain,” said Merlo.
FALL 2019 § POURED CANADA § 35