A toast is raised in honour of a multifaceted, talented, opinionated, gentle man
It is very sad indeed to observe the passing of Canadian brewing pioneer Mr. Frank Millington Appleton, on April 25th at the age of 80.
Canada’s craft beer industry uniformly recognizes the tale of its co-founders, John Mitchell and Frank Appleton, as its national Book of Genesis. If you’re not familiar with the fabled Origin Story, you’ll find it recounted in myriad forms online, in books and magazines. A short primer can be found on the BC Ale Trail website if you’d like to bone up on this. Suffice to say that Frank, working alongside John Mitchell, was Canada’s founding craft brewer.
Sadly today, with the vaccine rollout still underway, the time is not yet ripe for the beer community to come together to remember Frank, and so no funeral or gathering will be held due to COVID-19 restrictions.
If and when the opportunity to celebrate Frank ever arises, it will of course be all the sadder that John won’t be able to attend or send his thoughts about his former compatriot. It should be mentioned however that John’s longtime wife Jenny Mitchell has expressed her condolences on Frank’s passing; more here.
Regrettable as all this is, it drives home how grateful we should be that Frank accomplished something before passing that John never managed: he left us a memoir, in the form of his 2016 autobiography, Brewing Revolution: Pioneering the Craft Beer Movement (Harbour Publishing, 2016). With so many tellings of the birth of Canadian craft beer in print, it was only right that one of the two men would put pen to paper and give us a history that is directly from the source.
One fortunate aspect of the volume’s publication is that it necessitated a book tour…or, at least, the closest thing to such that a BC-based beer author can have. So Frank came out to some of the big beer events like Victoria’s Great Canadian Beer Festival and Penticton’s Fest of Ale. That allowed more of the burgeoning beer community to meet him in person, and gave he and long-time partner Jean Bassett a chance to meet us. No doubt, for many that was a gift just as big as the book.
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