Claire Wilson left her native home of Ireland in 2008 on a working holiday. She had been employed as a professional brewer her whole adult life and she was on a quest to find new recipes, brewing ideas and forward-looking techniques. Hearing an industry buzz about the rapidly changing craft brewing movement in Western Canada, she decided to check it out first hand. She wasn’t disappointed. The craft brewing scene in Vancouver was exactly what she was looking for. New breweries were popping up, exciting products were hitting the marketplace, and the whole vibe and pace was a refreshing change for Claire. In fact, she found it so accommodating, she stayed. And has been a Vancouver resident ever since. Now if that beginning isn’t romantic enough for you, there’s more! She met her soon-to- be husband, Brendan Wilson, an electrician working in Vancouver’s hopping film industry. Early discussions turned to Brendan’s lifelong dream to own and operate a brewery. Talk about finding your dream partner! The stars aligned and Claire left her job in 2012 to open up Dogwood Brewing with Brendan. After the requisite period of finding and leasing space, dealing with building permits and other administrative and regulatory hurdles, the doors finally swung open at Dogwood in March 2015. An important piece to the puzzle was Claire and Brendan’s unified vision to operate a sustainable and environmentally conscious brewery. Claire used her years of education and brewing experience throughout British Columbia, the UK and Europe to spearhead Vancouver’s first organic brewery. Spotlight on Business spoke with Claire about the challenges and rewards inherent with the decision to pursue environmental sustainability in the craft brewing industry.
By John Allaire W e’re actually the third organic brewery in British Columbia and the only one in Vancouver so far.” It was Claire’s early days in Germany that opened her eyes to environmental issues. But more to the point, early in her career, she worked for a brewery that was situated in the middle of a national park. “Nothing went down the drain. Everything had to be top notch in our practices and procedures. So it’s always been part of me and who I am.” Claire is quick to give the nod to Brian and RebeccaMacIsaac from the Crannog Brewery in Sorrento, BC as an early influ- ence on best practices. “They have their farm brewery. They really are the epitome of what the industry needs to be. It’s not over excess or about growth without boundaries with them. They’re just producing amazing beer from their land — from what their well will support, they treat their own effluent, it goes back in the field. And the grain feeds the pigs. It’s a complete full circle. It’s so admirable, what they’re doing and their approach to it.” It was the Crannog folks that convinced them that Dogwood should pursue the organic route. But the concept was met with slight hesitation — and a million questions. “At the beginning I was concerned, ‘is it going to be really expen- sive?’ ‘Are the ingredients going to be really hard to get?’ and so on. Rebecca just went through everything with us and it was just ‘Nope, this is it. These are the suppliers.
You will be able to get your ingredients…’ Claire points out
OCTOBER 2017 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
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