Grad profile

Rufino Dee

Rufino Dee is a co-founder of the first-ever contract brewery on the West Coast. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

“I wanted to get into the business because number one, I like beer, and number two, I could see that it was a growing marketplace.”

Turn the corner on most streets in Vancouver and chances are you will stumble upon craft beer. With over 100 breweries in B.C., some may argue that the market is reaching a saturation point. But Rufino Dee, a graduate of SFU Continuing Studies’ Craft Beer and Brewing Essentials program, says otherwise.

“I think the craft beer industry will continue to grow,” Rufino says. “I wanted to get into the business because number one, I like beer, and number two, I could see that it was a growing marketplace.” Transitioning from the food and pharmaceutical industry, Rufino enrolled in SFU’s craft beer program to learn the fundamentals behind the product he loves.

“In order for me to invest in something I thought that I had to learn a little bit more,” Rufino explains, “and SFU just happened to be launching their craft beer program at that time.” Specifically, Rufino was interested in investing in Factory Brewing, a new contract brewery that would be the first of its kind on the west coast of North America.

Opened in June 2017, Factory Brewing—the brainchild of Andrew Harris, former president of Russell Brewing—partners with craft breweries that may have limited resources or space and brews large batches of their recipes to help them meet their distribution goals. “It mitigates the risk to build a brewery and it supports the local craft beer scene and craft beer in general,” Rufino says. “It’s a win-win.”

The certificate program allowed him to feel more confident as an investor in an unfamiliar industry. “It’s a good introduction to what the beer business is all about,” Rufino says, “and to gain more knowledge so that when you’re working with people you know what they’re talking about.”

A year after Rufino completed the program, Factory Brewing became fully operational. With the ability to produce up to 70,000 hectolitres of beer per year and the facilities to can, keg and bottle, the new business offers versatility to the Vancouver brewing scene. Its current brewmaster, Andres Palma, and head of operations, Rick Dellow (one of the founders of R&B Brewing), also have an SFU connection. Both were instructors during Rufino’s time at SFU Continuing Studies.

As an investor, co-founder and CFO of Factory Brewing, Rufino looks forward to the future. “I think craft beer is going to grow internationally,” he says. “it’s starting to pick up in Asia, in Africa and starting to turn around in Europe.” For Rufino, it seems like Vancouver is just the beginning.

“I wanted to get into the business because number one, I like beer, and number two, I could see that it was a growing marketplace.”

More about Rufino

Take a peek inside Rufino's business venture, Factory Brewing.