The realization behind Dickie's Ginger beer did not start out like most small businesses; rather, it came from a strong desire from Stephen Tufts, the tour-de-force behind Dickie's Ginger, to create something - "a thing that people liked".
Stephen' unique sense of place stems from his various travels and his experiences with living in different cities across the world. "You start to think about why you like a place so much, and for me, it was always because of a small business or a little bar. You know that they are just busting their ass, working so hard to create this environment - this thing - that they love, and their success comes from almost everyone who lives in that particular city appreciating it. You add all of that up and that makes up a place. I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be one of those guys."
This drive to be a part of a close-knit community became that much more necessary during his software days. "I wanted something tangible. In the software business, everything just existed in my head. I wanted a real thing. I wanted to make a product."
Stephen admits that when he first moved to Vancouver, he was partially driven by his side passion - Urban Development - a topic that he's always been interested in. He was actively looking for Masters programs in Urban Development around Vancouver, that it became equally likely that he would have ended up in that realm instead of the ginger beer business. Still, thoughts of "How do I become that guy?" and "How can I contribute to a community" kept persisting until one trip to Seattle changed the course of his planning and decision-making. "I was obsessed with this one business in Seattle," Stephen says. "I loved their ginger beer and I started to wonder why Vancouver did not have such a thing."
This was two summers ago. It took Stephen four months of experimentation before he was happy with the final result. "Suddenly it got scary - a little too real - because I had been telling myself all that time that if I ever came up with something, then I have to jump in and just do it."
And thus, Dickie's Ginger was born, and Stephen has successfully created "a thing that people like and love, and is associated with Vancouver." He looks up at the cafe, and adds, "It's kind of like this place, you know? When people visit Vancouver, they may hear of Le Marché St. George, and will make it a point to visit this space... I mean, how cool is that? To create a business like this so beloved by the community that out-of-towners who get word of it will visit?"
Stephen looks at Georgia, whom he says is the unsung hero of Dickie's Ginger. Georgia works tirelessly behind-the-scenes, making sure production is on point and on time. "It started last summer; Stephen and I were hardly able to see each other because he was working so hard... and so I would help out in the kitchen from time time... until Stephen was ready to have me on board more than just the odd day here and there." Georgia looks at a smiling Stephen, and adds, "We already work so well together, so getting fully on board felt really natural."
You can find Dickie's Ginger in our cafe, and in select bars, cafes, and farmers' markets across the city, including the beautiful Boulevard Oyster Bar downtown - one of Stephen's latest wholesale clients - where they serve Moscow Mules on tap with his ginger beer.
Moscow Mules on tap - now there's something everyone needs at home.
Fruity Ginger Beer: a non-recipe
Looking to amp up your glass of Dickie's Ginger beer but don't have any rum or vodka on hand? Macerate some fruit - fresh or frozen - with a bit of sugar and top off with Dickie's Ginger. Dickie's Ginger is not too sweet, and the airy balance of the lemon and the ginger will complement whatever fruit you choose.
Story and Photographs: Issha Marie