Class of 1998 – Innis
Innis Alumnus, Cass Enright, is a man of many professions. During his time at Innis, he used his entrepreneurial spirit to form the Innis Beer Connoisseurs Society, a passion that has developed into one of his current career paths.
In a few words, please outline your career path.
My career has taken a couple of different, but related, parallel paths. On one hand, I’m a senior executive in the advertising industry and the co-founder of a health and wellness digital consultancy. And on the other hand, I’ve combined my professional experience with a love of craft beer and have founded a number of entrepreneurial pursuits in the beer world, including The Bar Towel, the Brewery Market, the Brewer’s Backyard and the Golden Tap Awards, amongst other things.
What is craft beer and how is it different from other types of beer? What drew you to the industry?
Craft beer is a bit of a catchall term to generally describe traditional and unique styles of beer, created independently and with passion and authenticity. Craft beer encompasses all kinds of styles of beer, from lagers to ales, stouts and sours. I was drawn to the industry firstly due to a love of delicious beer, but then also by the creativity and uniqueness of the beer community and the interesting characters and personalities within it.
Why is it important to support Ontario craft beer? What is your favourite beer?
Supporting Ontario craft beer is like many other homegrown artisan products – local beer means fresher beer, and as it is made in our communities, that means strengthening local economies and more jobs. But above all else supporting Ontario craft beer pushes the local beer industry forward, and that means quality beers, interesting, and unique styles and more experimentation with brewing for all of us to enjoy. It’s impossible to choose a favourite beer – I have so many favourites! What I have seen over the last number of years is the quality of Ontario craft beer rise dramatically – there’s more amazing beers in Ontario now than ever before.
What are you thoughts about the recent advertisements protesting the idea of selling beer in convenience stores?
My feeling is that these ads are a fear-mongering tactic and desperate attempt to maintain the status quo in a world that is changing and evolving. Ontario is one of the few jurisdictions in North America where retail alcohol sales are completely controlled – the LCBO is owned by the Government and The Beer Store is a government-sanctioned entity owned by large foreign brewers. Ontario craft beer drinkers deserve more choice when it comes to where they can purchase beer, and private enterprise and entrepreneurs deserve the opportunity to be in this growing business.
What is the most important lesson you have learned during your career?
I’ve learned to never become complacent. Once things become stagnant, it’s time to move on and learn something new. I’ve continually shifted focus throughout my career in advertising to keep learning new skills, new industries, and tackle new challenges. And in the beer world, I’ve continued to create and develop new ideas, properties and events to challenge myself to push the beer industry forward in Ontario.
What is your favourite memory from your time spent at Innis College?
I have so many, but one that stands out is something that happened when I assumed co-editorship of the Innis Herald alongside my friend and fellow Innis alum Antonia Yee. We decided to be bold with our editorial stance and have some fun with the paper’s direction. I remember one moment when one of our first issues was printed and delivered to the College (there were no web-based versions back then!). I walked into the College and it was completely silent – literally everyone in “the Pit” and the old ICSS office was intently reading the paper, something I’d never seen before. That was a great moment and a testament to Antonia’s and my vision for the Herald.
Another great memory was my creation of the Innis Beer Connoisseurs Society (IBCS), which was a precursor to all the beer event work that I do presently. We were able to secure student government funding for the club, which allowed our membership to go out and sample different kinds of beer, something that was mostly uncommon at on-campus events back then. We were all able to expand our beer palates together, and many of our original members still enjoy craft beer to this day.
Do you have any advice you would like to share with current Innis students?
Innis was a place where I was able to bring to life creative ideas and see those ideas embraced and fostered. I’d encourage Innis students to create and activate bold ideas that exist outside of the lecture halls and classrooms, and leverage their university experience to the fullest. I reflect on my time at Innis as a place that allowed me to participate in creative, entrepreneurial and leadership activities that has become the foundation of my career today.