Jeffrey Craig tried to get back to brewing beer where he worked at Walkerville Brewery, but his cancer treatments were just too much for him.
He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in September last year and just couldn't return to work. But, thanks to Windsor's tightly knit craft brewing community, Craig has found a way to brew beer as a form of therapy and charity.
He helped create Fine N' Dandy — one of the latest flavours on tap behind the counter at Craftsheads Brewing Company and a way to raise money for cancer research.
"[This collaboration] showed me how close the craft brewing community really is," Craig said.
Craftheads owners Bryan Datoc and Steve Fabischek came up with the idea after they learned of Craig's diagnosis. Knowing their friend's love of beer brewing, they asked him if he wanted to make batches for fun at their downtown basement location.
"The brewing community is very tight in Windsor," Datoc told CBC News. "We told him: If you ever wanna come in to brew and just to get your mind off things — or just for the love and passion you have for craft beer — you're more than welcome."
Craig took them up on the offer late last year and the project has turned into a charity.
"It was very generous, very nice," he said of the offer from Craftshead. "This is something I love doing. It's definitely a hobby first, career second."
Craig helped come up with Fine N' Dandy, a new brew with a dandelion ingredient carefully chosen because of its use in cancer treatment experiments.
Funding the cancer society
Datoc and and Craig also decided to donate beer sale profits to the Canadian Cancer Society.
"It's one of the pillars we stand on — to support the community that supports us," said Datoc.
Fine N' Dandy has been on tap at Craftheads for about a month. So far, they've raised $1,700 from beer and T-shirt sales.
"[This collaboration] showed me how close the craft brewing community really is," said Craig. "We have a Facebook group we all talk to each other in. It was very nice, very generous. I really appreciate it."
Walkerville Brewery is having a launch party for Fine N' Dandy this Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Craig says he's been responding well to his treatment. He attributes the ease of his recovery to family and friends, who've given him so much support along the way.