Dylan Webber, the co-founder and director of brewing operations at Definitive Brewing Co., died this week. He was 31.

A Portland resident, Webber spent years working in other Maine breweries including Mast Landing Brewing Co. in Westbrook, where he was the first employee and first head brewer. Family members, friends and members of Maine’s brewing community are mourning his death.

Dylan Webber worked in numerous Maine breweries before co-founding Definitive Brewing with Mike Rankin in 2017. Courtesy Mike Rankin

“His presence was really awesome,” said Katie Daggett, Webber’s mother. “He was very unassuming, very humble. He was very good at all he did. People would give him attention and he would just be like, ‘Oh, thanks.'”

Definitive Brewing, which Webber co-founded with his friend Mike Rankin in 2017, has been closed since Thursday. Webber’s family and Definitive Brewing said he died unexpectedly.

“We are deeply saddened to share the news that our co-founder, creative mastermind, and friend Dylan Webber has passed away suddenly,” the brewery said in a message on its website. “We join his girlfriend Laura, his mother Katie, father Chuck, and the rest of his family in mourning his loss, and celebrating his remarkable life.”

Webber was born in Augusta to Daggett and Chuck Webber, grew up in Gardiner and Hallowell, and graduated from Hall-Dale High School. He has an older brother, Dan, and a younger sister, Miriam. After high school, Webber took classes at the University of Southern Maine and worked at the Portland International Jetport. He also traveled around Europe, which would help inform his love of beer.

Webber especially loved Cologne, Germany, and the region’s Kolsch beer. The Contee, a Kolsch-style beer named after Cobbosseecontee Lake, where Webber’s family has a camp, was one of Definitive’s four original beers and one of Webber’s favorites.

In Maine, Webber’s family said his love of beer started with home-brewing and his work in Maine beer bars and breweries, including the Lion’s Pride Pub in Brunswick, Maine Beer Co. in Freeport and Mast Landing.

Mike Rankin said that, as a brewer, Dylan Webber “was always seeking to make it perfect.” Courtesy Mike Rankin

“This week the Maine beer community lost an incredibly kind, innovative, and creative friend,” Mast Landing wrote in a post on its Facebook page Friday. “Dylan Webber was Mast Landing’s first employee and first head brewer – he helped build our culture and our foundation as an integral part of the brewery’s launch and early years. Even after leaving Mast Landing and starting Definitive Brewing Company, he remained a part of our family and we continued to cherish every minute and every beer we got to share with him.”

Rankin and Webber started Definitive Brewing in October 2017 after being introduced by a mutual friend and realizing they shared the same interest in starting a brewery. The name Definitive serves as a reminder that no beer would ever be perfect, but that was what they would strive for, Rankin said, adding that Webber really took that message to heart.

“He was always seeking to make it perfect,” he said. “The team he had working with him day in and day out meant the world to him and you could tell he loved every minute of it.”

Webber met his girlfriend, Laura Bramley, around the time Definitive was getting started. They went to see a Grateful Dead cover band at Port City Music Hall one night in 2018 and hit it off. “We basically fell in love that night and were inseparable after that,” said Bramley, who lived with Webber in Portland.

She later started working at Definitive doing graphic design for the beer labels. “Our relationship just grew from that initial meeting and from me working at Definitive,” Bramley said. “It just grew into a really deep bond and a really strong love between us.”

Bramley said Webber’s death has been devastating for the brewery. “He was just a really special human being in everyone’s lives and in the beer community as a whole in the state of Maine,” she said. “It’s a very tight-knit community and Dylan was incredibly well-connected with the entire Maine beer community.”

Dylan Webber with Jelly, one of his two cats. Courtesy Laura Bramley

Outside of work, Webber loved animals and was a vegetarian, Bramley said. He especially loved his cats, Jelly and Boris. “Dylan was the most humble person that I’ve ever known,” Bramley said. “He was incredibly kind, intelligent, creative and an extremely loyal friend to a T. He would do anything for his friends or anyone he loved. He was extremely hardworking and driven. He never missed a day of work. You could just rely on him for anything.”

Webber’s family declined to elaborate on the cause of his death but said he will be an organ donor. “That’s a positive thing to come out of this sadness,” his mother said. “That Dylan can help other people is huge. He was that kind of person.”

Definitive Brewing’s tasting rooms in Portland and Kittery will reopen Saturday and will donate proceeds from the sale of the Contee beer to Webber’s family.

“We’re going to miss him,” Rankin said. “We’ll continue to honor his name and his legacy by continuing operations and making the best beer we can with him in mind every step of the way.”

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