by Ruth Lloyd
“We knew inherently the tie between mountain biking and your celebratory beer,” explains Darren Adam, co-owner of Cumberland Brewing Company. Cumberland, B.C., on Vancouver Island is a bike-centric community, a market that the brewery knows well. When the company was asked to put in a bikewash station by the local hostel owner (the hostel’s wash station for its guests was being a bit overrun by community use), Cumberland Brewing did it right with a grease trap. “And this is another beautiful moment for Cumberland in that it’s a great sharing environment between businesses,” Adam says.
Not only does the wash station help out the hostel, but the trails, too. There’s a sign at the station suggesting riders donate a couple dollars for each wash toward the Cumberland Community Forest Society. The local non-profit organization is working to purchase much of the private land around Cumberland where the mountain bike trails are built. Some of the land is currently owned by forestry companies. Because that land is private land, it’s not subject to the same rules and regulations governing logging and forestry on Crown land. The purchased parcels of land are then given back to the village to manage as a recreation and habitat corridor.
Wash your bike and save your trails: it’s a win-win. Also, because the non-profit targets riparian areas and the local watershed, Adam sees it as an additional benefit for the brewery. “It’s about protecting our water, which protects our beer – so it’s a no-brainer,” he explains.
So, with a bike-wash station, designated bicycle parking, outdoor seating for mud-splattered mountain bikers who want to be within eyesight of their bikes and a location less than 500 m from the trails, the Cumberland Brewing Company has created a symbiotic relationship between bikers and the post ride beer. “The two-wheeled approach to your favourite watering hole is a more genuine and, you know, a less limiting trip,” says Adam. “Safety is always paramount, but when you’re biking six blocks or five miles home, and if you take your time and be careful, you’re less worried about your second beer.”
Adam sums up the relationship between biking and beer by quoting his friend, local writer and rider Andrew Findlay: “No adventure is complete until you have raised a beer to celebrate it.”
The brewery offers four primary beers on tap: an English bitter, an American-style wheat ale, an oatmeal stout and a pale ale. With rotating one-offs, collaborations and new weekly casks of smaller seasonal batches, the company has up to eight fresh beers on tap at any time.