Dageraad mishap brings out best in B.C. beer scene

Jonny Healy photo

Jonny Healy photo

It’s a situation Dageraad Brewing owner Ben Coli had never been in before, and one he hopes he’ll never be in again.

A few weeks ago, Coli discovered the new warm room the brewery had built wasn’t really doing its job. The room was designed to keep bottled beer at a specific temperature for months on end, allowing it to naturally carbonate – a process called “bottle conditioning.”

However, it turned out that since the room was so tall, air wasn’t circulating the way it was supposed to. Hot air became trapped at the top of the room, and spoiled all of the beer stored on the upper shelves. And we’re talking a lot of beer here.

As a result, Dageraad’s entire 2017 batch of 10º, as well as hundreds of litres of Londen and Burnabarian, all had to be thrown out.

“It got up to 12 degrees warmer at the top than it was at the bottom [of the room],” Coli tells me. “All the beer near the top of the warm room basically got cooked, which unfortunately included our slowest, most expensive beer of the year.”

Now, I’ve had to pour out a spoiled batch of homebrew before, and let me tell you, it sucks to see something you spent hours creating circle the drain. I can’t even imagine how gross Coli must have felt to destroy literally thousands of litres of his beer, and 10º too, one of Dageraad’s best and most expensive beers to produce.

It goes without saying that losing this beer was major blow to Dageraad’s bottom line. The brewery is right in the middle of renovating their tasting room too (due to finally open in April!), so the timing couldn’t have been worse.

But out of all of this shittiness, something kind of awesome happened. Not long after Coli posted about the mishap on social media, Dageraad soon found itself on the receiving end of a veritable tsunami of love.

In addition to countless messages of support, close to a dozen other breweries – Dageraad’s competitors – reached out to Coli to ask if there was anything they could do to help. A number of bars and pubs – again, some of which were owned by Dageraad’s competitors – offered Coli tap lines and new business to help Dageraad stay afloat. Chilliwack Hop Farms offered up free hops should Dageraad want to re-brew the beer it lost and the company that does Dageraad’s labels also offered a discount.

“It’s pretty overwhelming, all the love we’ve been receiving,” says Coli.

I think the response is a great example of the culture of cooperation and support that exists within the B.C. craft beer scene. Far from being cutthroat competitors, B.C. breweries are routinely collaborate with each other to produce one-off beers and share best practices. There’s an understanding that by helping each other make the best beer possible, everyone wins. Especially the beer-drinking public!

I think it also speaks volumes about the character of those working in the craft beer industry. Brewers, by and large, are good, hard-working people, and more often than not, they are motivated by a genuine love of beer, as opposed to the allure of a quick buck. They understand that they, too, could suffer a similar misfortune someday.

“We are truly fortunate to be members of such a close community, both with our drinkers and with our colleagues at beer stores, bars and other breweries,” Dageraad posted on its Facebook page in response. “And although we lost a bunch of money, we’re not ready to pack it in and go out of business. Dageraad will carry on.”

So grab a bottle and help out some good people making great beer.