Hometown brewery brings three Canadian Brewing Award medals to Burnaby
Dageraad Brewing took home several awards for its "super nerdy beer" from the Canadian Brewing Awards earlier this week.
Burnaby’s own Dageraad Brewing took home several medals from the Canadian Brewing Awards earlier this week, and the brewery’s owner and founder says it’s gratifying to see good, nerdy beer recognized.
Ben Coli—who also goes by the joke title of Chief Executive Janitor for the brewery he set up with his friend Mitchell Warner in 2014—said it was good to represent Burnaby beer on a national platform.
The brewery’s Time’s Arrow, a mixed-culture fermented saison, took home the gold medal in the Wood and Barrel-aged Sour Beer category.
Coli describes it as a “super nerdy beer that took forever to make” and said it was a collaboration with Ryan Voigt—who’s now the head brewer at Studio Brewing in the Royal Oak neighbourhood.
“So it’s kind of an all-Burnaby award for that one,” he said.
“It’s a beer that we made with a mixed culture of bacteria and yeast. Most beer is just fermented with brewer’s yeast, but this one was made with a mix of different strains of yeast and bacteria to add some sourness and some funk to it.”
Time’s Arrow was also made with locally harvested honey and then aged in red wine barrels for nearly three years, then for additional time after being bottled as well. Unfortunately, that means it’s not feasible for Dageraad to brew regularly.
“So this is like a massive project beer—it’s a passion project. It’s not something that we can make money on, because man it takes a lot of work. And then we’re super gratified to get a gold medal for all that work that we put in,” Coli said.
The brewery also took home a silver medal for 10°, a Belgian-style quadrupel traditionally drank by Belgian monks, and a bronze medal for Tous Les Jours, a Belgian Brett style beer.
That’s another “nerdy” beer, said Coli—its alcohol by volume is only 3.2%, and it’s crushable, light, and perfect for summer days.
He said it’s another project where Dageraad can’t make much money off of it (because it needs to be bottled in 750ml bottles for the high carbonation, making it expensive for the consumer), meaning you’re not likely to find it on tap at the Lougheed-area tasting room.
But if you like to try beers that are out of the ordinary, Dageraad is a must-visit—Coli describes the brewery as “at the far end of the spectrum of beer nerdery.”
“We love making weird stuff and putting it in barrels and letting it age for years and going into these obscure styles that monks make [for instance]. We’re super happy to get awards for those kinds of beers—they’re not the core of our business monetarily, but they’re the heart and the soul of our business,” he said.
“That’s what we’re here for, is to do the nerdy kind of stuff and we let everything else pay for it.”
One of Dageraad’s most famous brews pays homage to the city in which it was conceptualized. Coli has previously said the City of Burnaby should adopt the name Burnabarian as its demonym, for citizens to identify themselves by.
“It’s kind of a silly joke, because it sounds vaguely barbaric. And this is really not a barbaric town. It’s quite a civilized town, I think. I wanted to give the community something to rally around, something that could be Burnaby’s,” Coli told the Beacon.
“A lot of people are often talking about how Burnaby lacks an identity or something. I think that we grew up as a bedroom community, sort of sandwiched between New West and Vancouver. And maybe it wasn’t super distinctive, but it’s becoming more so. Burnaby is its own thing. It’s not New West, and it’s not Vancouver. And I’m glad to be able to give this to Burnaby.”
Burnabarian has been around for as long as Dageraad. When Coli was working on the opening of the tasting room in 2014, he knew they would get a ton of local beer lovers—and at first, he thought maybe Burnabarian could be a beer sold only from the tasting room.
“And then I quickly realized how stupid that idea was. But I was originally thinking of it as a beer for Burnaby,” he said.
With Burnaby in mind, he crafted an “everyman’s beer”—more of an everyday drink, with a slightly lower alcohol content than some of Dageraad’s other brews, but something interesting and flavourful that you could drink all the time without getting tired of it.
It’s now one of the brewery’s most popular beers.
“We sell it all over the place now, of course, and so we’re exporting Burnaby culture, or Burnabarian culture all over the place, I guess, by putting the name Burnabarian all over the province—and we send some to Alberta too.”
As for where beer culture in Burnaby is headed, and whether the city could play host to a brewer’s row or district akin to North Vancouver or Port Moody—sadly, he’s not sure if that would be feasible here.
The tasting rooms currently in town (Dageraad, Steamworks, and Studio Brewing) are spread out in more “remote areas” across the city.
“I don’t know if that would work. But I’m glad to see that the beer scene in Burnaby is growing, in spite of it being quite slow growth. … There’s definitely more room for more breweries in Burnaby,” Coli said.
Dageraad recently celebrated its eight-year anniversary of pouring beer in Burnaby with a return to its regular outdoor parties.
“We weren’t able to do it for the last two years, obviously. We really mourned missing our sixth birthday, and we said ‘okay, you know, this is the only one we’re gonna miss.’ And then we missed the seventh as well. And we felt so defeated at the time,” Coli said.
“So it was so great to finally bring everybody out, and we brought the same band back that we’ve had play a couple of times, and it was just a pleasant, civilized gathering of like-minded beer nerds.”