Victoria was always a passionate person – from her passion for beer making to her incredible love for her three award-winning Australian shepherd dogs. When she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018 at just 32 years old, she transferred that passion and focus towards getting well. She took a path that many others have followed – radiation, chemo – she even got to ring that bell at the Cancer Centre.
“We thought we had it beat,” says Eric, her long-time partner. But as is often the case, cancer roared back into their lives, and Victoria passed away in 2021.
“It was the middle of the pandemic, so perhaps the only silver lining was that, since we were both in lock-down, we had the opportunity to spend so much time together and make some memories. Victoria was determined to stay home, and Hospice was just incredible in making that happen for us. No matter what we needed, they were all right there to help. From arranging a hospital bed for our home, to helping me move her, to making sure we were both taken care of – the team from Hospice was there. They made sure that anything we needed was readily available, right at home.”
Since her passing, Eric has continued honouring both of Victoria’s passions – for beer making and dogs! “Yep, I’ve still got two of the dogs, Vera and Silly, they keep me pretty busy!” he laughs. He may laugh about the pups, but he’s serious about crafting fine beers.
Eric has been brewing his own beer for years, working full time at Jake’s Brew, in addition to starting his own craft brewery – Windmill Ridge Acres in Harrow – and even his own podcast, Brew Talk.
This year, to honour Victoria’s memory, Eric, along with Jake’s Brew, will be joining the Windsor-Essex craft brewers in their annual Fine ‘N Dandy beermaking event, which runs through the month of April.
Fine ‘N Dandy was started as a way to honour Brewer Jeffrey Craig of Walkerville Brewery. When he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, he continued his work, but used his background in science to collaborate on a beer featuring dandelions as a main ingredient. After Jeffrey passed in 2017, they continued the tradition of Fine ‘N Dandy in his memory.
“There have been some studies that have shown that dandelions have some cancer-fighting properties,” explains Eric. “We use a dandelion infusion in our Belgian style beer, which provides a slightly earthy, spicy taste. It’s a cool little marriage of flavours.”
In preparation for Fine ‘N Dandy, Eric and the team at Jake’s Brew have already canned and labelled their own signature dandelion beer, and started sales on-site at Jake’s on April 4th, 2023. Dave Smith from Jake’s has also provided bottles of white wine for the sale. “Both the beer and wine will sell for just $5.00 each, and 100% of the proceeds from our sales will be donated to Hospice. We will sell them as long as we have them,” says Eric. “Last year we sold out in less that three weeks!”
Eric has grown his passion for fine beer into a life-long career, and has transferred his fond memories of Victoria into a unique memorial. “I think she would be happy that our support for Hospice is done to honour her. I am determined that we will always support Hospice, just as they did Victoria and I. Whatever they need, I’m there for it.”