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Ullage & Spillage: a decade of community service

When I think about pillars in the BC craft beer community, the first person to emerge from my random-access memory is What’s Brewing’s very own Monica Frost, who is known by many for her critical and ongoing contributions to our volunteer-based initiative. I am sure many craft fans have seen this smiling face at beer events around Vancouver over the years, often playing a role in the background. In 2017, she celebrates ten years of craft community service. Here’s how she got her start.

Monica receiving the CAMRA BC Volunteer of the Year award in 2014

Having discovered a very small community of fellow beer lovers centered around weekly cask nights at the now-defunct DIX Barbecue & Brewery, Monica joined the Vancouver branch of CAMRA BC (the Campaign For Real Ale Society of British Columbia) in 2007. Wasting no time, she took over its Corporate Liaison role in 2008. That meant recruiting breweries, brewpubs, liquor stores, and craft-beer-focused restaurants to join the cause, and then working with them to build relationships. Given CAMRA Vancouver’s modest membership base at the time, corporate sponsorship helped expand activities and created broader recognition among craft breweries. Discounts from corporate sponsors also attracted regular members.

In 2009-10, Monica moved over to the role of Communications Director, where she had an even bigger impact. Notwithstanding her self-characterization as an “overt-introvert”, there is a significant personality clue in her online name “Socially_Monica” (if she has another, more like “Incommunicado Monica”, I’m not aware). CAMRA Van’s weekly e-newsletter became one of the few e-mails I would eagerly watch for, popping up in my inbox at work late on a Wednesday afternoon. It would heavily influence my social plans for the following week.

Monica moved up to the Communications position at CAMRA BC (the parent society) in 2011, then returned to handle CAMRA Vancouver’s Communications from 2012 to 2014. Between 2009 and 2015, she took the newsletter distribution from the low hundreds to over 2,000 recipients. That played a huge part in CAMRA Van’s membership surge during that period. Monica was named CAMRA Volunteer of the Year in 2014.

In 2013, Ms. Frost joined the BC Beer Awards team as a Director, contributing to another key facet of the BC craft beer community. BCBA works with volunteer judges, many of whom are BJPC-certified homebrewers belonging to VanBrewers and other clubs. At its annual event, BCBA hosts groups such as CAMRA Vancouver, BC Craft Brewers Guild, BC Ale Trail and What’s Brewing in its Community section.

Monica has also applied her beer knowledge and organizational skills to her position as Operations Coordinator at Vancouver Brewery Tours, coordinating their social media presence and publicity at beer festivals. Besides her day job and many volunteer roles, Monica runs her own consulting company, Socially Monica Communications, which coordinates social media for, among others, Vancouver Craft Beer Week and Great Canadian Beer Festival. She is also a blogger for the BC Ale Trail, having written a number of stories, one of the most recent being “Homebrewing is Booming in BC“.

In 2015, CAMRA Vancouver’s decision to cut back its e-newsletter from weekly to monthly, as well as a year-long hiatus in publication of CAMRA What’s Brewing, created an opportunity for a community initiative based around craft beer writing, publishing and communications. Shortly after the revival of What’s Brewing, our editor approached Monica to reprise her weekly news with a broader viewpoint, and so the HopLine was born. Not only does it cover weekly events, it provides alerts on special beer releases, beer festival ticket releases, community issues and interesting beer news. Now I keep a close eye on my in-box on Thursday afternoons. If you are not already in the loop, sign up for this information-packed e-mail at whatsbrewing.ca/hopline.

When I asked Monica what her motivation has been in doing all of this was, she replied “To build a craft beer community in Vancouver and bring like-minded folks and businesses together in celebration of that.”

This past Christmas, underscoring the awareness that the beer community has of her contributions, ten local breweries enthusiastically joined in on a gift pledge to treat our Communications Director to her own custom East Van beer tour. They made it clear that she is appreciated by more than just us. So, the next time you see the above face in and around a beer event, give Monica Frost a smile of appreciation for all she’s done for BC’s craft beer community.

  Issue:

J. Random

J. Random has been penning the Ullage & Spillage column for What's Brewing since 2003.


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