Once again, we’ve invited two brewers to discuss beer, the brewing and the culture for the benefit of you, dedicated reader. This time, we spoke to Danny Seeton and Matt Anderson, celebrated homebrewers who’ve unwittingly shaped Vancouver’s beer culture.
Both were early members of the city’s first home-brewer’s club, VanBrewers. They’re also roommates and therefore, essentially, the Joey and Chandler of Vancouver craft beer. Since they’re already spending time arguing about beer, we figured we might as well record some of it, which we did, in the backyard of their South Vancouver rental suite.
Seeton now works in the industry as the assistant brewer at Parallel 49. Anderson has opted to keep beer a hobby.
GROWLER: Because Graham [With, Parallel 49’s head brewer] was a part of the home brewing scene, when Parallel 49 happened, it seems like they brought that scene into the brewery’s circle.
MATT ANDERSON: Totally.
DANNY SEETON: It dropped the beer culture down in age group, easily.
GROWLER: The millennial beer culture kind of congregated around Parallel 49 and everyone kind of grabbed on to it.
DS: Timing-wise it lined up, for sure.
MA: Absolutely. I’d agree with that. They took a chance on Graham, getting a younger brewer. Everybody else was pretty well established by then.
DS: It lined up for Graham for sure.
MA: The homebrew association started in this house because Katy [Wright, Graham’s long-time partner] and Graham were living here at the time. They started getting way into brewing, and then they were just talking about it all the time. Their other friends were like, “We don’t give a shit about this – ”
DS: “We’re sick of it.”
MA: “ – talk about it with someone else.” So they just went on Craigslist I think and just said, “Are there any homebrewers out there? There must be. Do you want to meet up and talk about beer?”
DS: The U.S. homebrew industry was so much bigger. We just listened to podcasts and looked at blogs from those guys. They were like, “Just talk with your local club!”And you’d look up Vancouver homebrew club and there was nothing. Nothing.
MA: Which is insane.
DS: Every couple of months, or every month probably, I’d be looking that up on Google. Then one time I looked it up and there was a homebrew club. And, oh! There was this meeting happening. I thought, had I missed this the whole time, and not known it was a thing? But it had just started. It was the first meeting. But yeah, Graham and Katy’s friends told them, “You need to get a club to deal with all your beer talking.”
MA: “Somebody else! Anybody else!”
DS: “Yeah, give us a break.”
MA: So that was the start of the club, and like 10 weirdos showed up for that. And now those people are our best friends it seems [laughs]. And now that club has grown from, yeah…I guess, when we officially signed papers to the government to be a non-profit society, we had 14 members maybe?
DS: Yeah, less than 20.
MA: Now we have 160 or 170. We’re the biggest club in Canada. So obviously the timing was right to start a homebrew club. And you see the quality of the beer has gotten so much better since then. There’s people who were bringing garbage beer three years ago. They would ask your honest opinion, you’d tell them –
DS: I would give them a brutally honest opinion.
MA: – and now they’re working at breweries and making amazing beer.
GROWLER: Right. You’ll do this at the homebrewer’s club, but no one will do that in the beer industry.
MA: [sighs] Yeah.
DS: I don’t know. I’ve sat down with brewers when they come by and they’ll bring some beer. I’ve sat down with them, tried their beers, and said, “That’s interesting. Have you thought about going this way?” And they’ll go, “That’s what we tried to do, but it didn’t happen.”
MA: I’ve only been brutally honest with Graham and you, because you’re good friends of mine.
GROWLER: But the rest of the world doesn’t do that.
DS: Um, have you read Ratebeer? [laughs]
MA: Well, the trolls on Facebook are different.
DS: You have a beer on Ratebeer.
MA: I do?
DS: At Yaletown.*
MA: Oh yeah, yeah. But that got a good rating. I’m flawless.
DS: But it’s brutal. I can’t go on there. I can’t look at any of our own beers on that. It’s just heartbreaking.
MA: That’s a different thing. The trouble with that is it’s people who don’t know shit, talking shit.
* Editor’s Note: Matt and Danny won the first VanBrewers Awards in 2010. For the grand prize, they had the opportunity to brew that beer – an oak-aged imperial stout – at Yaletown Brewpub.