Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies: Vancouver’s little brewshop has made a big mark on the world

Wednesday 03rd, September 2014 / 15:14
By Tanya Van

DansHOmebrewingSupplies_mVANCOUVER — It’s been a year since he died but the legacy of Dan Small lives on in a huge way. By giving locals access to a wealth of knowledge along with barley, malt and hops since 1991, Dan’s Homebrewing Supplies is credited for creating the homebrew scene in Vancouver. Just what kind of influence did this old school Vancouver homebrew icon have on today’s booming local craft beer industry? Surprisingly more than you think and probably more than you can drink.

“A lot of the guys who now operate breweries used to be homebrewers. Graham at Parallel 49 Brewing Co.; Liam at Yellow Dog Brewing Co.; Blair at Bomber Brewing; Steve at Off The Rail Brewing Co., and more have all been through Dan’s doors,” says Chris Booth, an employee of Dan’s since 2010 and now manager.

Employees Saul Moran, Kent Harkness and Booth, who picked up the torch at Dan’s after his death, are trying to live up to the legend. Booth explains, “Dan taught me everything good about brewing and probably saved me 20 years of doing dumb things on my own.”

When asked about keeping the legacy going, Booth explains they brewed a batch in memory of Dan and plan to do it once a year. This year they created Dan’s Summer Bitter at Bomber Brewing on Adanac Street. Blair Calibaba at Bomber Brewing worked at Dan’s for years.

“Last year, we did a batch of Dan’s Strathcona Pale Ale at Parallel 49 with Graham,” Booth continues. Graham With, head brewer at Parallel 49 Brewing Co., credits Dan with helping him get his start in the industry. “Next year, we’re going to try and do it somewhere else with another homebrewer turned commercial brewer,” Booth continues. “We should do one with James (Walton) from Storm Brewing. James and Dan were friends for many years.” Storm Brewing at 310 Commercial Drive is one of the city’s first microbreweries and Dan’s shop was next door for years.

So the man known as the innovator in Vancouver brewing scene, has influenced overseas, too, as well. Dan’s long time partner, Angie St.Lopez, from art rock band Shlonk, received a message in 2013 from Terry Robertson of Chamonix, France. He’s been running a brewpub for the past 12 years and was saddened to hear that Dan passed away.

Terry had met Dan in the early ’90s when he had his shop beside Storm. He said, “Dan helped me perfect my brewing techniques up until 2001 when I moved to France to open a brewpub. Twelve years later I’m still here running the brewpub. “

One wonders if Dan knew about his impact on the scene before he died. “It becomes evident in the past few years when customers are opening their own breweries,” says Tom Small, Dan’s brother and owner of Tom’s East Vin Winemaking on East Hastings St. One of the last things Dan did was to move it next door to Tom’s store, and Tom jokes that they are the Booze Brothers.

While it’s been a whirlwind of change, Chris Booth says that Dan’s Homebrewing is going strong and Dan’s tried and true recipes and knowledge of the science behind the perfect homebrew are being passed on. “We’re just trying to do what Dan would have wanted, keep the store going and people brewing good beer.”

Want to learn how to make beer the Dan Small way? Visit the Dan’s Home Brewing Supplies store for recipes and tried and true advice at 835 East Hastings Street or online at beermaking.ca

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