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Heroes Of Beer

A 3-point Q&A about what Community means, with:

In celebration of our BC Craft Beer Community, we invited some of the many public-minded BC brewing industry folks we have the pleasure to know, to tell us more about their relationship with their local community, and within the brewing community. Their responses were voluminous and passionate. We’ve excerpted them here. We welcome yours too.

But if the exploits of some of these community superheroes leave you feeling like your cape has a hole in it, you’re not alone. After reading through these submissions, your humble What’s Brewing editor is exhausted, impressed and humbler than ever.


How has your brewery been accepted by, and become part of, the local community since opening?

Adam Chatburn, Callister/Real Cask

We’ve been embraced by the locals, both customers and in­dustry; the list is too long to print here. We hope that we put back into the community at least as much as we receive.

Darren Adam, Cumberland Brewing Co.

The brewery has been accepted by the community because we intentionally created it as a gathering place, safe for all people and families to be, and because of our support of community initiatives (that do not involve minors). We creat­ed a true Public House in the British sense, and it has been embraced perfectly.

Abi Moore, Fernie Brewing Co.

Fernie Brewing Co. is a much-loved part of the community, and we are grateful for this every day. Fernie BC is an amaz­ing and eclectic community filled with long standing mul­ti-generational residents, as well as seasonal visitors and a passerby who “come for the winter and stay for the summer” then subsequently never leave. We truly believe “you’re only as strong as your community”.

Michelle Zutz, Townsite

We get to live, work and play in this amazing region with such a diverse group of people to call neighbours and friends. We buy our homes here, pay our taxes, spend our dollars, our kids go to school here, take driving lessons, swim and dance class­es. Our customers see our faces in the community supporting both personally and professionally and that makes all of us feel connected.

Our community is proud of our accomplishments as well. City councillor CaroleAnn Leishman relates a story about being away at conference. When she mentioned she was from Pow­ell River, instead of the usual “Mill Town” comment, she was overjoyed to hear “You guys have that great brewery and all the biking trails! I’ve heard all about Powell River! I want to come there for a visit soon!

Kim Lawton, Cannery Brewing

One testament to acceptance by the community is that our beer is now available at the local arena (South Okanagan Events Centre) alongside the traditional macro products. Guests who want to see a concert, a sporting event or attend a festival or conference now have a choice to drink local.

Sid Ruhland, Firehall Brewery

We have been accepted graciously by our community, Oliver BC. Our social lounge, the Beer Shop & Social, was made pos­sible through a successful crowdfunding campaign, which involved the participation of the community.

One of the core tenets of the craft beer movement is to support local. We’ve been able to serve as a force resisting homogene­ous, sterile, and invasive Big Business. Now, we’ve become a local staple for community events, municipal initiatives, wed­dings, birthdays and staff parties.

Legions of other young locals have left town for city bustle or Northern pay. The town is excited to have a young man like me stick around to pursue an entrepreneurial idea. At first, craft beer was foreign here, so it took a lot of work to educate local folks about what craft beer is and what it means.

Anne Farmer, Moon Under Water

Yes I like to think that our success is pretty much 100% because of our community and family support. We pride ourselves on putting our customers first, catering to their specific requests. We have a policy of never closing for a private function; our regular customers are our number one priority.


Are there any  recent or ongoing activities, programs or events which relate to a Community theme that you would care to share with us?

Diana McKenzie & Adam Chatburn, Callister

We have a homebrewer highlight series that usually features members of VanBrewers who get to brew a pilot batch with Chris, then put it on tap in the tasting room. We are also part of the East Van Culture Crawl, Yeast Van Brewers association, East Van Running Club, a pick-up spot for a local CSA Farm, and we feature local artists’ work in our space.

Kim Lawton, Cannery Brewing

Cannery Brewing regularly donates items for silent auctions, sponsors teams and supports events in the community. We support Penticton’s local Survivorship Dragon Boat team, have donated toward Literacy Now and we help raise dona­tions for the South Okanagan Children’s Charity.

We provide our brewery as a venue for meetings, AGM’s, community fundraisers, networking events, and sell tickets to events happening in the community.
A number of Cannery Brewing beers help support impor­tant causes/organizations in the community. For instance, Wildfire IPA brings awareness and financial support to the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Beers in our Arti­san Creations line-up bring exposure to local artists.

Cannery and the other local breweries have been instrumental in helping us set-up and es­tablish CAMRA BC’s South Okanagan branch, letting them use the space for events, making casks, provid­ing educational opportunities for members, and donating prizes for CAMRA events.

Darren Adam, Cumberland Brewing Co.

We have three main community initiatives that are the core of our support output, but we do much more.

1. We support the Cumberland Community Forest Society, which purchases private timberlands on the edge of the Village, and gifts it to the Village with strict covenants to maintain it as forest in perpetuity. These lands are on the watershed, and help to protect the future of the great water we enjoy, to make great beer.

2. We support the United Riders of Cumberland, which have secured a land-use agreement which legalizes mountain bikers access on private timberlands, and gives the Village the ability to promote itself as a mountain biking destina­tion. Game changing stuff.

3. We support the Museum of Cumberland, which tells the on­going unique story of the culture that our Village represents.

We also have commissioned artwork over the past 24 months, which will continue. To date over the 25 months of our business we have contributed, or supported these efforts to the tune of over $25,000 and counting. We also partner with any Village business we can, in order to strengthen our relationships with local owners.

Abi Moore, Fernie Brewing Co.

We feel fortunate to do business in the Elk Valley, and wanted to find a way of giving back to our local community. As a result, our “Cheers to Charity!” program has been in operation since December 2013. For $5, visitors to the FBC Tasting Room can try four of our eight beers available on tap. Recipients rotate every six weeks to three months. With every cent taken going direct to the current recipient project, event or life-changing measure, FBC have successfully raised just shy of $50,000 since its inception.

In the works is a Craft Beer Trail Mile co-hosted by Stag Leap Running Co. We’re the perfect town for such a challenge! More details to come.

Sid Ruhland, Firehall Brewery

Our business model changed drastical­ly, for the better, with the addition of our crowdfunded Beer Shop & Social. Since I’m from Oliver, I know what it’s like to want another place in town to hang out. Having the space for it was a matter of fortune, but it was the communal need that made it happen.
The Beer Shop has had steady business throughout the “slow season”, which can be a struggle for many small businesses in Oliver. I believe this success reflects a deep-seated need for real social interaction in today’s culture.

Anne Farmer, Moon Under Water

We do at least two burger and beer fundraisers for the com­munity each month. We are active in supporting animal rescue and have held a number of fundraisers for them. We support two ball teams, three dragon boat teams, two soccer teams, and more recently a curling league. We also have 4 staff members participating in the 2017 Beer Wars boxing event supporting under privileged kids.

Michelle Zutz, Townsite

Our “Growler Program” supports local nonprofits and their initiatives within our region. Not only do they receive $1 from the sale of every growler and refill sold, we also work with them in promoting their individual programs. We make our tasting room and space available to them to use to sell their tickets, promote their fund raisers, even have additional products available for sale to our customers. See our website for this year’s recipients.

Recently, our one-day “Spinathon” fundraiser with Coast Fitness raised in excess of $9000, to be shared between three local nonprofits. In addition, we sponsor many events throughout the year locally, including the Banff Mountain Film Festival, Movember, Powell River Film Festival, Logger Sports, Powell River Girl Guides, CAMRA Powell River and local sports.



Regarding the craft beer community: what’s your take on kinship amongst the BC breweries and craft beer industry types? Is it as strong as it’s often portrayed?

Adam Chatburn, Real Cask Brewing

Honestly, I think it’s even stronger than people might suspect. The level of co-operation and sharing of knowledge, ingredi­ents and encouragement is quite incredible. Did you know that the brewers in the Yeast Van area get together once a month? We plan events, help the new folks and find ways to maintain our position as the brewing capital of Canada.

Diana McKenzie & Adam Chatburn, Callister

Yes, there is a strong bond between breweries. The local brewing industry and the homebrewing community have been incredibly supportive. From brewers or other owners taking the time to answer our questions, to sharing supplies and resources while we wait for a shipment to come in, the whole experience has been really incredible. People are really interested in what we’re doing and the impact we’re having on the future of the industry.

It’s partly that, as owners, we get to commiserate on how hard the journey can be, and partly that, in spite of it all, we keep going and are pursuing something we’re really pas­sionate about. That excitement draws people together and makes us all want to see each other succeed. We’re stronger together than on our own.

Anne Farmer, Moon Under Water

We make sure we have at least 4 or 5 guest taps on at all times to support other breweries. We have done numerous collaborations with other breweries, and were one of the first in Victoria to hold a tap takeover. Employees from other local breweries frequent the bar regularly.

Kim Lawton, Cannery Brewing

100% yes, Our breweries don’t see each other as competitors, but as collaborators, friends, and colleagues who enjoy shar­ing a beer together and helping each other.

Darren Adam, Cumberland Brewing Co.

We have also helped anyone who has come into our brew­ery or reached out with a free meeting to explain our busi­ness model and what makes it different and effective.

Abi Moore, Fernie Brewing Co.

I think it’s very strong, and the portrayal in the media is spot on. As much as each of us wish to succeed, we’re all in it together. For us in the Kootenays, farthest from the craft hubs like Vancouver or Victoria, it’s really exciting!

Sid Ruhland, Firehall Brewery

When we first got into the industry, we were relieved to find we had chosen well. We didn’t know about craft brewer kin­ship until we were already in the construction phase, when we visited small breweries in BC and Québec, and felt a form of solidarity: we’re all in it together against the Big Boys. Contrary to the norms of competition, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the generosity and support from breweries like Cannery Brewing Co, Tin Whistle Brewing, Bad Tattoo Brewing, Crannog Ales, and many others.

From our perspective, it is very obvious which breweries are authentically heartfelt organizations, and which are merely responses to an economic trend. This may not be so obvious to the average consumer. Anyone who really cares simply needs to penetrate past the marketing and meet the people within, to find out where brotherly and sisterly love exist in this business.

Michelle Zutz, Townsite

Absolutely; we are proud of our #friendsinbeerplaces. We all realize as breweries that essentially we are competitors, but we are also aware that we all will benefit from a growing Craft Beer presence. I have friends in the business I call upon to shoot some ideas around, look at new opportunities and sometimes just bitch about Voldemort (aka, the entity that shall not be named)!!

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