Learning Techniques, Building Relationships After Tragedy

With a common cause to honor a friend and fan, Tempe’s Pedal Haus and Modern Times of San Diego teamed up recently to create a beer after the death of Ian Campbell-O’Neill. It ended up being a learning experience and helped the two craft breweries build a relationship.

Campbell-O’Neill, a 27-year-old assistant brewer at Pedal Haus, died in a motorcycle accident in February 2017. Modern Times was a favorite of his and Pedal Haus Brewery Beer Director Derek “Doc” Osborne teamed with Mat Sandoval to release “rICON”, a rye New England IPA, as a tribute.

Although it started as a way to honor a fallen friend, for Osborne, it also was a way to learn along the way.

“After rICON was brewed I brought some out to Mat and Modern Times and he showed me around giving me the opportunity to learn and share ideas to how to better dry-hop a beer for effectiveness and safety in mind,” explained Osborne. “That open communication channel can make a huge difference when it comes to figuring out new solutions or improving certain brewing practices.

“It’s also pretty neat to have a common cause that you are both working towards. Ian was a very special friend and employee of Pedal Haus and that was apparent to other people that he came into contact with, too. Whether you knew Ian for five minutes or for five years, he had this lasting impact that’s unforgettable. Every time you take a sip of this beer, we remember the good times with Ian, his sense of humor, the “can-do” attitude, and his true compassion for brewing and continuing to grow in the field.”

The goal and reason for doing the beer wasn’t to raise money or reflect upon the tragedy, Osborne noted.

“The goal was to do a nice tribute for a great person with the best way that we know how. The beer can easily be brewed at both breweries so opportunity for profit is definitely there and it allows for a small independent brewery like Pedal Haus to have exposure in San Diego and vice versa for Modern Times,” he said. “The bigger brewery is homing in on a relevant community cause and supporting a state that they currently distribute within — so it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Modern Times came into the collab with no intentions of profiting from this beer, Sandoval pointed out.

“We just wanted to pay respects to Ian’s memory and all he did for the craft beer community out in Arizona,” he said. “The thing that we feel most benefits breweries in these endeavors is not about monetary gains, but education. When you’re brewing with someone new, you get a chance to see things in a different light. Whether it be process, recipe formulation, technique….you always learn from each other.”

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