Dead Frog is a misunderstood brewery. Over their seven year existence they have released many different beers, and have received significant PR, but they have never managed to break into BC’s craft beer scene. Whether their inability to establish themselves as recognized beer artisans stems from their historically mediocre product line, or the fact that they produce a variant of much hated citrus forward macro lager, doesn’t matter all that much. Unfortunately for Dead Frog, the craft beer community has never embraced them with open arms. But on the other hand, craft beer fanatics may also feel that Dead Frog has never fully embraced them. But the past doesn’t matter when change is in the works.
I had a chance to sit down with Derrick Smith and Chris Landsman of Dead Frog Brewery this week. We chatted about what Dead Frog has been up to and what they have planned for the future. They were even generous enough to share some of the new brews that they’ve been working on. I gained a new perspective on Langley’s only brewery while chatting with Derrick and Chris. The team at Dead Frog know that craft beer drinkers love to hate light lime lager; they know their beer line up may not have been up to par in the past, and they are fully aware they have very little craft beer street cred these days. But the story doesn’t end there. Dead Frog is making some changes – they care about their beer, a lot, and they are working hard to re-invent themselves.
Here are a few things that many beer drinkers in BC may not know about Dead Frog:
- They have a lot of new beers in the works, and some of their more recent seasonal releases have shown dramatic improvement.
- Dead Frog has a rock star Brewmaster, literally (former drummer for Deja Voodoo), with an impressive pedigree including stints at Quebec’s famed Dieu du Çiel and Vancouver’s much loved Dix. Brewmaster Tony Dewald has been given carte blanche to create beer that he loves, and beer drinkers can expect a noticeable product improvement in the near future. An Imperial Stout, a Northwest Style Red Ale and possibly a Vienna lager will be hitting the market soon. I expect their riff on an imperial stout will be well received by many beer lovers – it is a well brewed beer.
- They want to build a better relationship with the Vancouver craft beer community. Derrick and Chris know that this will take patience and hard work, but they seem to be embracing the challenge.
- Dead Frog is going to ditch their clear bottles, opting for the much preferred brown bottle.
Their appearance on CBC’s The Big Decision certainly caused concern about the viability of their business, and the fact that they began contract brewing for Steamworks didn’t help ease this concern. But having chatted with ownership and management, it appears that their business is doing just fine. Keep in mind that reality TV is not objective. It is entertainment driven and sometimes the truth just isn’t exciting enough.
Dead Frog still has a long way to go. But having tasted some of their upcoming releases, which were noticeably better than previous offerings, and seeing their drive to improve first hand, I think they have a real chance at turning things around. So far they are doing the right things and I wish them great success.