B.C. is no stranger to out-of-control forest fires, and if I ever get lung cancer, I’m blaming the smoky summer we had a couple years ago (I’m sure it will have nothing to do with the fact that I started smoking at the age of 14). So it’s little wonder that the terrible wildfires burning across Australia have struck a nerve with many in the craft beer industry, prompting some B.C. breweries to raise funds for relief efforts.
To give you an idea of how bad the fires are, remember back in 2018 when we had one of the worst years for forest fires ever in B.C.? In all, 13,500 sq. km burned that year. So far, the Australian wildfires have burned more than five times that, ravaging more than 73,000 sq. km—an area larger than the Netherlands and Belgium combined—as well as destroying 2,000-plus homes and killing 26 people so far. And with weeks of blistering hot weather expected, the fires are showing no signs of letting up any time soon.
Penticton’s Slackwater Brewing has four fundraising events planned around the province to coincide with Australia Day on Jan. 26. The brewery will be serving up Aussie meat pies, Vegemite on toast, cold beers and blasting the Triple J Top 100 playlist with partial proceeds going to Australian fire fighting crews. Satellite events are also planned for Apex, Whistler and Silver Star ski resorts. Check out the Facebook page for the event here.
“One of our supervisors is from Victoria in Australia where a lot of the fires are and we wanted to turn the party into something more meaningful,” says Slackwater owner Liam Peyton. “So we got creative over a few beers, posted it online and the local community has more than embraced it, donating thousands of dollars of items for our silent auction, and our favourite band in town is even doing a free show to get people in the doors and donating.
“We got a little excited and spoke to some of our ski resort accounts to see if they’d like to get involved and it kind of snowballed from there, no pun intended.”
Slackwater isn’t alone, breweries all over the province are chipping in to help our antipodean cousins with the wildfire relief.
Squamish’s Howe Sound Brewing has two events planned. This Thursday night (Jan. 9) the brewery is hosting an Aussie movie night fundraiser with a screening of the classic Australian cult comedy “The Castle”. If you can’t make that event, Howe Sound is also hosting an Australian karaoke night on Jan. 25 to raise money for the wildlife rescue organization WIRES.
Britannia Brewing in Richmond will also be hosting a fundraiser to benefit WIRES, with $2 from every beer sold on Jan. 26 going to the wildlife charity.
- Do you know of a brewery that’s doing something to help with Australian wildfire relief? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!