Q & A With Derek Hammond
Meet Derek Hammond, Thornbury Craft’s Retail and Hospitality Manager. Derek has worked in the hospitality industry for many years, and is passionate about meeting new people and providing customers with a memorable experience. His knowledgeable understanding of the industry, and friendly demeanor provides Thornbury Village with a unique take to running management. If you know Derek, you know you are always greeted with a smile, and will feel right at home when visiting the Cider & Brew House. Read our Q & A with Derek below, and learn a few fun facts about the man who manages our home, The Village!
How long have you been a part of Thornbury Village?
In my current position, since August 1 of 2018. I did also spend 3 months here from Aug-Oct of 2017 as well.
What is your position?
I am the Retail and Hospitality Manager.
Tell us what first sparked your interest about working for Thornbury Village?
I grew up in town here and have long worked in the service industry. This position allows me to work in the town where I live while doing something I feel I’m good at. As a lifelong local it’s also great to see this building transforming into something that’s really cool and unique and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of that.
Being the Retail and Hospitality Manager of a bustling Cider & Brew House, how would you describe your role in a few sentences?
I oversee the operation of our Taproom and all of our Retail space. This will eventually include some space in the new Brewery addition as well. I also deal with a lot of our off-site events in the local area. Basically it’s my job to make sure that every person who comes into our space has an experience that’s as amazing and entertaining as we can make it, and to make sure that our staff have all the tools they need to make that happen. It’s a bit of a standing joke among the staff here how much I enjoy and admire Disney. Everything they do there, from choosing their people, to creating their spaces, and on down the line, is geared to ensuring that you have an amazing experience with them. It’s almost literally impossible to not have a great time at Disney. We obviously don’t have their level of resources at our disposal but that’s still the goal- to make sure everyone that visits us has an amazing experience every time.
Tell us your favourite part about managing Thornbury Cider & Brew House?
The people. Our staff are amazing to work with and we have hands-down the best customers anywhere. This job is a wonderful amalgamation of interacting with amazing people, being able to be creative with merchandise and events and building something really unique in terms of the environment and what we offer. It’s easily the most fun I’ve ever had at a job.
What is the most unique thing that you’ve learned about the brand itself since starting in ____?
If I start giving out trade secrets I’ll get in trouble! Our ciders are cold-fermented and cold processed in small batch lots and our beer uses a process called decoction whereby they essentially re-boil part of the mash. In both cases it means that our process takes longer than other methods but we believe that the end result is worth the extra time and expense. We feel it’s better to make it well than to make it fast. In this day and age, that’s unique in itself.
Thornbury has a variety of award-winning craft ciders and beers. What cider and beer have left a mark on you, as your number one favourites?
I’m not sure that’s a fair question! It’s like asking me to choose my favourite child. They’re all my favourites! I am a particular fan of the Blue Mountain Light Lager, which is a light beer that actually tastes like beer. It’s an area of the market that the Craft Beer Industry has historically largely ignored, which I think was wrong. It‘s a great after-hockey of after-hiking beer, or for just sitting on a sunny patio. I’m also fond of our Dam Dark Lager, which unfortunately isn’t as appreciated as I think it should be. A lot of people get scared by the word Dark and think it’s going to be heavy and high-alcohol, and it’s actually a really tasty and easy-drinking lager. On the cider side I really love the Raspberry Apple Cider. I think it’s the best one we’ve ever done. It has a nice tartness to the finish that I really enjoy.
When you’re not managing the day-to-day at the Cider & Brew House, how do you like to spend your time off?
Parenting. We have two young girls that my wife and I like to spend time with. Hiking, beach visits and paddle boarding in the summer, skiing and hiking in the winter. I am also really missing playing hockey right now. In normal circumstances we also like to travel.
What are you most looking forward to this year at Thornbury Village?
Definitely the Brewery opening! It’s going to be a really cool space and we’re looking forward to opening it to the public as soon as it’s safe. I’m also really looking forward to being able to welcome people back into our Taproom space. We’re fortunate to have a good-sized patio and the Town has been great in helping us get our patio extension approved during Covid but it will be so nice to be able to go back to something that’s a little more like normal operations when that’s feasible.
Full-sized Brewery coming soon!
If you could describe your Thornbury Village work experience in one word, what might that be?
Family. We’re a small company and everyone here, from the owners on down, very much have a pull-together mentality. During the first lockdown, not only did everyone on site here get a bump in pay, but the company also bought lunches for everyone every day from April through the end of June. They asked us to make a point of rotating where we ordered them so that a number of the local restaurants saw some benefit. Every year the President of the company hand-delivers each employee their Christmas thank-you letters. He knows everyone’s name and if we have a new employee he hasn’t met yet, he makes sure to go and introduce himself. Everyone truly cares about each other and it shows.
Thornbury Village Cider & Brew House