WILMINGTON — The city lost a beloved member of its craft beer community, Dean Goodyear, who died unexpectedly at the age of 30 after collapsing at his dinner table with his fiancée Sunday night. It is unclear what caused his death.
Goodyear was the sales and distribution manager at Broomtail Craft Brewery following a stint as assistant brewer at Bill’s Front Porch.
Broomtail owner Barry Owings said the sudden loss of the “face of Broomtail” was a heartbreaking blow for him and his wife Lisa, who after a year of employment looked at Goodyear as a part of their family.
“Everyone throughout the beer community knew him and respected him and loved him,” Owings said.
He said Goodyear and his fiancée, Alice Cox, were eating dinner at their home Monday night when he suddenly “slumped across the table, and that was it.”
Local filmmaker Ben Woods, who was asked to be best man in Goodyear’s wedding, said Cox tried to resuscitate him before EMS arrived.
“He’s the last person in the world who deserves to die,” Woods said. “He changed everybody’s life, who came in contact with him. It’s still a complete shock; I still don’t feel like it’s real. I feel like I’m going to wake up and it’s all been a bad dream. And that’s how a lot of people feel — it’s just not real.”
Almost a year ago Woods said he was listening to a podcast Goodyear took part in called “Malty Gravity” – about beer and comedy – when he came up with an idea to film a brewery travel show.
“And as soon as I thought about calling him, he called me [saying] ‘I felt like I needed to call you, what’s up?’” Woods said.
Woods knew a producer in Los Angeles with connections to Discovery Channel, Netflix, and Hulu, he said. After shooting the first episode of what would be called “The Good Beer Show” – “I’m Dean Goodyear and this is The Good Beer Show” opens the segment – Woods and the producer were preparing to present a “sizzle reel” to major television networks.
On Tuesday night a large crowd gathered downtown at Cape Fear Wine and Beer, where Goodyear once worked security, to remember a man some referred to as “larger than life”.
Zac Brown, who left Waterman’s in December to help George Taylor develop brewing operations at Tru Colors Brewing Co., was drinking from a bottle of Saint Peter’s Organic English Ale — Goodyear’s favorite beer. With an oval shape similar to a pint of whiskey, the bottle is larger than a typical pint-sized beer bottle.
“In his hands it looked regular sized,” Brown said. “It was a Dean size.”
He said Goodyear wasn’t a man to follow any trends, as seen by their shared preference of malty beers over hoppy beers.
“Dean was his own man,” Brown said.
Cape Fear Wine and Beer president Maaike Brandis said the tight-knit craft beer community that often hangs out at her bar is taking care of each other the “best as we can having lost one of the best people I’ve ever met in my entire life.”
“It finally hit me today that he was gone. On [Monday night] my staff and I tried to keep off social media; we just tried to talk to each other as a family,” Brandis said.
But reality struck when a Broomtail sales rep stopped by her bar Tuesday, and it wasn’t Goodyear.
“That’s when it hit me – that’s he’s gone. It was a rough night, a rough morning. But when that happened it kind of broke me, broke my brain, broke my heart,” Brandis said.
She said the combination of Broomtail’s Owings – “the chemist” – and Goodyear was highly effective.
“When you have a really good guy selling perfect beer, nothing can go wrong,” Brandis said. “He was a good dude, a real good dude; the best,” Brandis said.
According to Owings, after Goodyear’s short time at the brewery the number of keg accounts Broomtail opened at various bars and restaurants increased by five times.
A loss for the community
Standing on the outside back porch of Cape Fear Wine and Beer was door security man Josh Lentz, who first got to know Goodyear when he worked security for Orton’s, a billiards and pool bar beneath Cape Fear Wine and Beer.
“We saw a lot of [stuff] together – talking about 1 a.m, dealing with every hooligan that comes to the bar. And I always saw him take people’s negative, bad energy and transform it, and make it better,” Lentz said.
For Lentz, Goodyear’s death is not only a profound loss for the beer community, but for the city of Wilmington.
“He was one of the few people who, if he had known exactly when he was going to die, I don’t think he would’ve done anything different. He lived his life that well,” Lentz said.
A Go Fund Me account, set up to raise funds for funeral arrangements and to provide support for Cox and family members, has raised more than $13,700 after just one day of funding, according to the website.
“Dean was one of the most kind-hearted, fun-loving, and genuine people that our community had the privilege of knowing and loving,” the memorial account writes. “His warm hug, friendly personality, and love of laughter gave so much joy to everyone who knew him. His enthusiasm for craft beer, his friends, and most importantly, his beautiful fiancée Alice, were special and radiant throughout everything he did.”
Woods said the large amount raised in a short time was a testament to Goodyear’s influence in the Wilmington community.
Mark Darrough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org