If you ask beer drinkers in British Columbia where they go for their brewery information and beer reviews, they will give you many different sources. One, however, seems to have been a staple since craft beer took its major upswing in the late 2000s – and that is Beer Me BC.
While Beer Me BC is the go-to site for many people that want to learn about beer, and want to know more about the various breweries across this amazing province, very few people know about the person behind the website. Allow me to introduce you to Dustan Sept, the man responsible for what you see on your computer screen whenever you pay that site a visit.
When I sat down for a beer with Dustan, he was fresh off his trip to Hawaii where he recently got engaged to his now fiancée, Kelly. When I explained that I wanted to be highlighting him as individual, he was a bit apprehensive. He explained to me that he chose the name “Beer Me BC” specifically to avoid making it about him. He truly wanted this to be about the beer: ”From the start, I never wanted it to be about my opinion. It was really a means of connecting the consumer with the brewery. Creating factual, positive information that could connect them.” He goes on to explain how he tried to maintain an objective view on everything he reviews: ”Some people will hate me for saying this, but whatever beer you’re drinking – there is a reason you are drinking it. Whether it’s a Budweiser or Storm Brewing’s Black Plague Stout. Every beer has a reason for being made and for being consumed; different people appreciate different beer.”
Beer Me BC went live in August 2011, and Dustan recalls being a bit nervous, ”When I started, it went live with about 50 beer reviews listed on it – that was your R&Bs, your Central Cities, your Granville Islands. When I hit 100, I got kind of scared. I thought 100 beers is a lot, because seasonals weren’t big back then I thought I would run out of beers.” Three and a half years later, that is certainly not the case! Since that time, there has been a new beer featured on Beer Me BC every other day culminating up to more than 850 beers – that is NUTS! Dustan explains that this is just packaged product, no draught, no growlers, no casks, just pure unadulterated beer. He wants to showcase these 850+ beers in their purest forms and the artisanship that goes into presenting them through photography certainly contributes to that. ”Every beer that goes live has a picture of the bottle, the head, the way it pours and all in a standard glass. The reasoning behind that is, if I want to compare an IPA to a Lager I want the same lighting, the same lens, the same glass. The only difference is the clarity, the head, the colour.”
Since the early days, the site has come to include more than just many, many beer reviews. He has also built a comprehensive map of the breweries of BC. ”That map gets at least a couple of hundred views every single day.” When I asked him how many of those breweries he visited, he chuckled and told me that he actually has built his own personal map tracking all the breweries he has visited, similar to the one on the website. By his count, he has visited about 70 of British Columbia’s 134 Breweries – pretty good for one man!
A few years ago, Dustan also started hosting a yearly Craft Beer Survey that consumers could participate in. It was a way for him to know what consumers are looking for, what the trends are and really paint a picture of the entire beer scene across the province. He recalls, ”The first year I had a little over 500 responses, last year we had just over 1,500. We would like to at least match what we did last year.” The survey is open until the end of November, so it is not too late to participate in the survey, click here to fill it out!
Now that he has set himself up as one of the go-to people in the BC beer community, you have to wonder what’s next for him. He is currently finishing his MBA writing a thesis on – go figure – craft beer. He started work on The Spirit of BC almost a year ago. This is a website dedicated to showcasing BC distilleries and their spirits, very similar to Beer Me BC. ”That side of things is very interesting – there are about 30 distilleries in BC right now. One uses honey instead of barley making mead and distilling it, and I believe one of the only Amarettos produced in North America can be found at Sons of Vancouver in North Vancouver.” Dustan admits the website right now is pretty basic and is simply showcasing the commercial side of the Spirits of BC, he is excited by what it may become down the road!
To cap my interview off, I had to ask him what his favourite beer was. As you can imagine I didn’t get a straightforward answer. In the end, I narrowed him down to his preferred seasonal styles (even that was a struggle for him.) “I am big fan of the big aged beers in the winter, Driftwood’s Singularity is fantastic. In the summer, I am a fan of Saisons – thinking back, Dageraad did a fabulous Saison this year.”
All in all, Beer Me BC is a fantastic website full of information for even the most seasoned beer drinker in British Columbia. Make sure you go and check it out and see what it’s all about! Cheers!
CAMRA Vancouver President