There is war in the beer world in Quebec

After Tite Frette, it’s the turn of another big player to impact Quebec’s beer industry. A wholesaler owes more than $1 million to a microbrewer who just slammed the door while waiting for his check.

• Also read: A Quebec beer retailer is in trouble

“They stopped paying us. Her excuses convinced me for a while. I’m tired of it,” says Pol Brisset, who has owned Alchimiste since 2019 and has been in business for 27 years, insulted by his distributor Transbroue.

He was Transbroue’s first partner, as the Joliette brewery is characterized by a 300% increase in sales in four years in a sector that is in sharp decline.

Transbroue owes him $1,200,000, a debt built up in twelve months, Pol Brisset insures, claims and swears. That’s a lot of money in this small company.

“I too am a victim,” says Tristan Bourgeois Cousineau, owner of the Triani Group and Transbroue. His reputation has always been good, he says, but since he bought Transbroue 15 months ago, “things started to go bad.”

The conquest

The 32-year-old entrepreneur founded Triani in 2014 with his partner Joannie Couture. They bottled Italian wine themselves and sold it in convenience stores.

Pol Brisset has just slammed the door on his distributor Transbroue, which has stopped paying him and owes him $1.2 million.

Tristan Bourgeois Cousineau and Joannie Couture in 2017 as the couple begins their rise to fame. Carl Vaillancourt / JdeM

Nine years and numerous acquisitions later, the couple is at the helm of a sprawling corporation that generates at least $20 million in sales per year.

Triani owns the beers Glutenberg, Oshlag, Vox Populi and 2 Frères, as well as the alcoholic drinks Baron, Octane and Mojo.

Its products are sold by Transbroue, which it just bought and which represents many other microbreweries. The Caisse de dépôt invested $2.5 million in the company in 2017 before the couple bought it.

Triani’s operations take place in Terrebonne, in a factory that has grown from 34,000 square feet in 2020 to more than three times that size today. The company also makes products for others there, including Molson, Sleeman and Beach Day Every Day, which is owned by Oliver Primeau.

Pol Brisset has just slammed the door on his distributor Transbroue, which has stopped paying him and owes him $1.2 million.

Olivier Primeau introduced his partnership with Triani on LinkedIn last July. Screenshot from LinkedIn / Olivier Primeau account

“I haven’t spoken to anyone about it, it’s confidential,” says the boss, without denying that these are his customers.

The Bonnie and Clyde of Quebec?

However, this success story does not make all Triani de Terre partners happy.

“Tristan and Joannie manage millions of dollars as if it were a small family business,” charges Pol Brisset, who has just slammed the distributor’s door.

The Joliettain isn’t the only one who doesn’t get paid. Transbroue is making the four other microbreweries under contract go through the same nightmare – Shelton, 4 Origines, L’Espace public and MonsRegius.

Some don’t have as strong a back as Pol Brisset. Bankruptcy awaits them. They ask themselves: How can Triani simultaneously refuse to pay them and at the same time invest in Terrebonne to expand the factory?

“I spent hundreds of hours untangling what I thought was an administrative mess of young beginners,” says René Huard of Simple Malt Brewery.

Triani owes him about $400,000 from other matters. “You did me a lot of harm. They do this with all SMEs they come across,” emphasizes the entrepreneur.

He no longer believes in simple mess. Instead, Quebec would face a true outlier worthy of Bonnie and Clyde.

“Tristan and Joannie produce more conflict than products. They are systematically cornering their businesses,” he says.

Like many others, he suspects that the couple is preparing their “Plan B”. The hypothesis is that he will soon run away with “all the amounts derived from his various schemes and redirected through a company that has nothing to do with the conflicts.”

Queen of Pursuit

Triani is a regular at the courthouse. We read in the report that at least 20 lawsuits have been filed against them in the last four years.

For example, six companies accuse him of owing them $635,000. The Brasserie Générale is demanding $154,225 and the brewery À l’abri de la Storm is demanding $141,403, as we read in a lawsuit filed in August.

“The brewing industry is in decline and your dealer is withholding your money. If you’re a good Quebecer, you’re really in trouble,” a brewer told La Presse at the time.

The ex-Dragon Nicolas Duvernois was also caught. The creator of Pur Vodka donated more than $1 million to Triani to create a new product he had just sold to the SAQ.

“SAQ pays Triani because Triani has permission. But Triani doesn’t pay you,” explains the head of Duvernois Esprits Créatifs.

He knew he wouldn’t get paid even though his products were sent to the SAQ. Others suffered the same fate, he now knows that too.

“I won’t tell you how many companies call me! They don’t know what to do with Triani anymore. There’s nothing to do there. “The law has to change,” demands the entrepreneur.

If Nicolas Duvernois is financially strong enough to lose a million dollars, that’s not the case for everyone.

Triani rejects this version of the matter.

“We want to help microbreweries. But the perfect storm is here and the industry is at minus 20 degrees. Instead of sticking together, some decided to drag me through the mud,” says Tristan Bourgeois Cousineau.

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