BC Craft Beer Spotlight: Dead Frog Brewery

From What’s Brewing magazine’s Winter 2020-21 issue

BC’s 200 craft breweries were built to be community gathering places, forgoing TV screens in favour of long, shared tables and mingling. For now, that is no longer the advantage it was.

In this issue of What’s Brewing magazine, a group of industry members discuss how BC craft breweries will survive hospitality’s harshest ever winter with slashed capacity, frozen patios and a raging virus, and what awaits them in 2021 if a wary public continues to stay home. Today, we hear from Cole & Kellie of Langley’s Dead Frog Brewery.

Cole and Kellie from Dead Frog Brewery

Q&A with Industry Panellists Cole & Kellie of Dead Frog Brewery

Q: The last time we checked in with you, there was no pandemic. Now, there is no end in sight. How are you holding up, and how busy is the brewhouse these days?

A: We are holding up well, but the pandemic has changed a lot of how we do things in both the brewery and the Tasting Room.  We adjusted what we brew and package quite a bit over the first few months of COVID, and there was a major shift from draught to cans and bottles. Just before the pandemic started we purchased a brand new canning machine from CASK, and it’s been running overtime.  The new Juice Box Sour Mixer has kept us really busy, and we’re grateful for our loyal customers. Brewing 4 sours consistently was a pretty sharp learning curve, but we’ve got it down now, and it’s all running smoothly.  We also just got two new 90HL fermenters, which really helped us keep up with demand.  To sum it up, things have changed significantly but we’re staying optimistic and very busy!

Q: Another change, Cole: you have a relatively new bride, Kellie, who is also a Dead Frog team member. How are the two of you adjusting to married life? Does having related careers make home life simpler or more complicated?

A: Well to be honest I think we are still in the honeymoon phase! Our wedding didn’t quite look the way we had expected, due to the pandemic, but we still had an incredibly magical day. Married life is amazing for us! I actually met Kellie when she was hired at Dead Frog 4 years ago, so the brewery has really been an integral part of our relationship. Being a family business work-life and home-life are one in the same. We love what we do and do what we love, bringing work home has never been an issue, especially when it’s great beer and it tastes so good.

Q: How are things going in front of house operations? What is your capacity reduced to, and how is traffic for you?

A: Kellie: Working in the middle of a pandemic has really changed a lot of how we do things in the Tasting Room.  We have a thorough COVID policy plan that keeps our staff, as well as guests, safe, and we’re lucky to have a lot of amazing loyal customers. Our capacity inside has reduced from 65 to 43, but we have a heated, covered patio that lets us seat more people. We’ve put up plexiglass inside, and fortunately we have a pretty big Tasting Room that gives our customers lots of room for social distancing. We’re really grateful and happy with how our customers have embraced our COVID policy, and we’ve managed to maintain steady traffic through the pandemic.

Q: In the summer, you were doing some drive up events based around the Juice Box releases. Have you held many other “virtual events”, and do you plan to in the future?

A: Yes, we had an amazing response to our Drive-Thru’s and we’re planning to continue putting them on through the winter. We actually just had one to launch 5 new tall cans and it was a big hit. We’ve got more planned, and will do our best to make it as safe and easy as possible for people to get our brews.

Q: Winter has been a big concern for many hospitality businesses. How much outdoor seating have you had, and do you have a plan for the colder weather?

A: We have a year-round heated and covered patio that seats 36 people. We just added 6 natural gas heaters to the patio, so our guests will be warm and cozy while they enjoy our brews and eats through the winter.

Q: Out of the many restrictions in place due to COVID, what is the single worst part of it for business? What do you think the province or Langley should be doing next?

A: The biggest challenge for us has been implementing all of the policies we need to keep our customers and staff safe while keeping our Tasting Room a welcoming place to be. We’ve done a lot of hard work to make sure the additions we make to the Tasting Room for COVID safety actually enhance the look and feel of the room. It was a challenge, but we’re happy with how things turned out, and we like a few things so much we’ll probably leave them up after this is all over.

#105 8860 201 Street, Langley, BC

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Dead Frog Brewery

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Beer Me British Columbia: since 2012, BC's #1 resource for craft beer reviews, BC beer industry insights and career opportunities.

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