When Darren Adam of Cumberland Brewing Company heard that a fellow craft brewer in Port Alberni was facing a shortage of material to keep making beer, he came up with a quick solution: fly in some supplies.
Twin City Brewing in Port Alberni is caught behind the Highway 4 closure due to the Cameron Bluffs wildfire, now listed as under control but still burning on 229 hectares close to the only highway that connects Port Alberni with the east side of Vancouver Island.
Usually owner Aaron Colyn brews twice a week, but an order was stuck somewhere with a courier reluctant to make the four-hour trip over a dusty, rough detour route. So Colyn posted on social media about being able to do one last brew while the highway was closed, then not being sure what would happen after that.
Craft brewing on Vancouver Island is a small community, says Colyn. “As soon as the road shut down I had breweries from all over the Island calling and asking if we had everything we needed. For us, we produce a lot of food out of our kitchen,” so his priority was to ensure that the food deliveries he usually receives three times a week would not be cut off.
He posted online that he was having challenges with beer ingredients. “We said we could brew one more time and then we’re stuck,” he said. “It was then Darren Adam from Cumberland Brewing Company reached out.”
Adam is a pilot, and said he had use of a Cessna 180 with cargo capability that he could fly to Port Alberni and deliver 400 pounds of pilsner malt that Colyn needed. He made arrangements to meet Twin City staff at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport, just over the Beaufort Range from the Courtenay Airpark.
“We brought a fresh pizza with us and had lunch with them,” Colyn said. Adam flew with his brewer, Anders Petersson.
Adam, who along with business partner Michael Tymchuk consulted for Twin City Brewing before it opened, follows Aaron Colyn’s social media. He said posts during the closure suddenly changed from “we’re OK” to “maybe we’re not OK.”
“I switched to text mode and said what’s going on,” said Adam, who had just received an order from his supplier. “We haven’t been affected at all because Highway 19 and 19A are both wide open.”
Supporting local entrepreneurs is vital, he added, particularly with challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic and now for west coast businesses, the wildfire and highway closure. The flight was organized quickly and the delivery made.
Instead of brewing one of their usual beers, Colyn decided the circumstances called for something special. “We said let’s brew something that commemorates the moment,” he said. The result is Detour, a strawberry peach summer ale; fitting because the collaboration saved Twin City’s summer.
“It should be ready roughly the same time the road opens.”
He hopes to can some Detour and arrange to fly them back to Cumberland so Cumberland Brewing Co. can share the special brew with their customers too.
“That was really a stop-gap they really helped us with. Since then our order came through (the detour route) so we are going to be able to brew this week,” Colyn added.