BC Craft Beer Spotlight: Trading Post Brewing & Red Door Events

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 the Winter 2020-21 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 Hannah Brown, Marketing Manager at Langley-based Trading Post Brewing Company and its three (going on four) BC locations.

Trading Post has a sister company called Red Door Events which evolved from the large beer festivals the brewery owners were organizing. So Hannah does double duty in this special interview.

At Trading Post’s Two Year Birthday Bash in 2018

Q&A with Trading Post Brewing’s Hannah Brown

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?

Hannah Brown

A: It’s a strange time, but given everything that’s going on, we’re doing pretty good! The demand for beer and food is still there, although we’ve definitely seen a switch to more off sales and take out, and smaller groups coming in, but our kitchen and brewery teams are keeping busy.

Q: How did you cope with the arrival of the pandemic last year? How was traffic across your properties?

A: When COVID numbers were creeping up over 500 a day, we saw a pretty drastic drop in business. With Dr Henry telling people to stay home and only interact with one’s immediate household, it seems most people listened and hunkered down at home. But with the addition of new outdoor spaces so people could still visit safely, our sales were strong over last summer and into September.

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

A: In 2020 we converted our parking lot at our Fort Langley Eatery into an outdoor patio, so we’re lucky to have 50 additional seats there that we can keep using.

At our Abbotsford Eatery, we ‘winterized’ our summer patio with tents and heaters to utilize those 20 seats into the winter months too!

Q: Do you think that COVID will permanently change people’s behaviour, and make society less trusting of close face-to-face interactions with strangers, even after vaccines emerge? Do you think craft beer drinkers are more likely or less likely to be mindful of keeping their distance than the general public?

A: We think COVID has definitely changed how people interact and how they behave when they’re in social settings, and we don’t think people will just ‘forget’ that even when there’s a vaccine. It seems crazy to think we once went to beer festivals with 5000+ people, or would sit next to complete strangers at community tables in Tasting Rooms.

Our guests have been very receptive and respectable to keeping their distance when visiting us, but they are a community that knows each other and wants to share experiences, so we think it’s definitely harder for them to not strike up a conversation with someone at the next table, or try each other’s beers when out with friends. But being so community focused means they care about us, the other guests, and their friends, so they’re the kind of people who are going to do everything they can to get us all to the other side of this!

At Fort Langley Beer & Food Festival 2019

Hannah on Red Door Events

Q: Have you held many “virtual events”, or do you plan to in the future?

A: We haven’t yet, but we’ve talked about hosting virtual trivia nights, virtual tastings and virtual brewery tours.

Q: Has the pandemic shut down your festival business?

A: COVID has affected all of the events the Red Door Events team puts on. The first 2020 event we had to cancel was the Fort Langley Beer & Food Festival, our kickoff for the summer events season that happens every year on the May Long weekend. Based on our early bird ticket sales from November 2019 to March of last year, we had projected to sell out our 4000 tickets again. In late March, we made the call to postpone the event until June, then in June to postpone it again until September. We ultimately cancelled the 2020 event in late July.

Our second loss was the Summerset Music & Arts Festival, which was scheduled for the last weekend in August. Again, we were aiming to sell over 4000 tickets at the three-day festival, and host some amazing local and international artists. After COVID, we planned to turn the event into a drive-through concert where ticket holders would remain in their car, socially distanced from other attendees. Then just a few weeks before the event, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that no drive-in events of any size could take place.

We pivoted once again and turned last year’s Summerset festival into ‘Summerset Sundays’, an intimate concert series hosted in the back parking lot of our Fort Langley Eatery every Sunday for five weeks in August. It was a huge success, with artists like Washboard Union, The Heels, and Andrew Allen, and each session selling out its 50 tickets in a few days.

Q: What should we expect this year?

A: We are optimistic that we will be able to host our events in some capacity in 2021, so our team is keeping busy researching and brainstorming ways in which we can do so safely.

Trading Post Brewing Company

Trading Post  Locations
Brewery: #107 – 20120 64th Ave., Langley, BC | Phone: 604-343-2337 ext 1
Eatery (Fort Langley): 9143 Glover Road, Fort Langley, BC | Phone: 604-343-2337 ext 2
Eatery (Abbotsford): 3058 Gladwin Road, Abbotsford, BC | Phone: 604-343-2337 ext 3

Red Door Events
Head Office: 2419 52 Avenue SE#1, Calgary, AB

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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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