Victoria hosts a bustling craft beer scene that any beer drinker will appreciate. To my delight, the breweries make some terrific wits and hefeweizens to satisfy my cravings, while also providing a selection of hoppy IPAs to please my man, Chris.
We set out one afternoon to see what Victoria had to offer. Here's what we found. This whole itinerary can be covered by foot. Leave the car behind.
Hoyne Brewing Company
Hoyne was our starting point and a solid brewery. The small tasting room is cozy and locals were continuously streaming in for growler fills. It was a Friday afterall, and at $11 a fill, you can't beat the deal for quality beer. I enjoyed Summer Haze, a honey hefe, and Chris favored the Devil's Dream IPA.
Just a stone's throw from Hoyne, Driftwood was our favorite of all the breweries. It's another cozy tasting room with one wall covered in a driftwood mosaic. They have a nice range of beers on tap. My favorite was the Cry Me A River Gose, refreshing like a wit with a hint of sour. Chris enjoyed the Twenty Pounder Double IPA, pictured, and the New Growth Pale Ale. They have unique and striking designs for each of their beers. Adding to the experience, was chatting with tasting room staffer, Braeden, who gave us the best local hangouts and restaurants. The best advice was to eat at Hanks.
Vancouver Island Brewery
They make some interesting brews at Vancouver Island Brewery; a couple of ales and, strangely, a Mexican lager. The tasting room is clean and modern, but I felt like I was in an office building. None of the beer excited me either. I was ready to move on to the next.
Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.
Phillips is a well established brewer, with their beer and craft sodas in distribution throughout town. After a couple rounds of tasters at the previous tasting rooms, I can't remember what I liked here, but our crew favored Bottle Rocket ISA (India Session Ale) and the Longboat Chocolate Porter which our buddy described as "god-damned Easter eggs in my mouth". That means that he really liked it.
Canoe Brewpub is known as having the best patio seating in town and it certainly was picturesque along the water. Canoe has a full menu, so we enjoyed some short rib tacos and lettuce wraps. Don't let the restaurant fool you, in addition to amazing eats, Canoe has a dedicated brewing philosophy, only using all natural ingredients and Canadian hops and malt.
We called it a day, at this point.
Other worthwhile stops:
Spinnakers Brewpub and Guesthouses - See more about our visit to Spinnakers.
Category 12 Brewing - You don't want to miss the delicious beers and sciency-theme of Category 12.
My essential beer tasting accessory: Camelbak
The one item I bring on all my trips is my Camelbak pack. It addition to the water reservoir, it serves as a backpack for your second layer and souvenirs. Of course I use it when hiking, but a Camelbak is also a great accessory for a beer tour so you stay hydrated between all the tasters and have a place to stash your purchases of brewery tees and chotchkies. What's your essentials beer tour companion?
Victoria's Spinnakers: So Much More Than Craft Beer
Victoria Whale Watching: Intimate with Orcas
Whistler Worthy Brews
Mammoth Festival of Beer & Bluesapalooza
Tiger Brewery: A Singapore Beer Tour
An essential experience when visiting Vancouver Island is whale watching because in addition to humpback whales and sea lions, these waters are home to orcas, aka killer whales. And if you're really lucky, you just might spot otters, puffin, or bald eagles. I thank Eagle Wing Tours for hosting us on a morning excursion aboard their 50 person catamaran. As always, all opinions are my own.
The onboard naturalist brings so much value to the experience.
I sought out Eagle Wing Tours because they are the top rated adventure outfitter on TripAdvisor, and they didn't disappoint. During the 4 hour outing, we saw a humpback whale, two orcas and a sea lion who gave us quite the show as he was chomping down on fish. The onboard naturalist brings so much value to the experience, as they provide expertise on the animals we are observing; diet, behaviors, and really fascinating facts that give you a deeper appreciation of these creatures. For instance, we learned that there is a portion of the brain, unique to orcas, that is associated with relationships. It explains why they are highly social and travel in pods. Families are matriarchal and family members stay together forever. Orca mourn their dead and often remain with their deceased loved ones for days.
What I love about Eagle Wing is their commitment to the environment. They are the first carbon neutral whale watching company in Canada and they participate in "1% For the Planet" which means that 1% of their sales is donated to environmental programs.
It's a thrilling experience to see these creatures in their natural habitat. Learning from the naturalist gives you a new appreciation for the whales and their survival. I'm so pleased that Eagle Wing advocates for wildlife and educates the public on the issues they face.
This experience just whet my appetite for Vancouver Island wildlife and if my trip wasn't coming to an end, I'd have considered another tour in search of all the other species we missed.
Victoria, BC: Spinnakers - So much more than a craft beer
Best Bet Activities: Summer in Whistler
Epic Hiking in Whistler, BC
Advice for Camping in Sequoia National Park
If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen my instagram stories documenting our visit to Vancouver Island. Located in British Columbia's capital of Victoria, Spinnakers Brewpub is a full-service restaurant with craft beer brewed on-site. I first discovered Spinnaker's beer while visiting Whistler last year and of all the beers we reviewed, placed Spinnaker at the top. I was so pleased they were willing to host us for our visit to Victoria so we could get up close and personal.
Touted as Canada’s first brewpub, Spinnakers approach to beer and food focuses on sourcing local ingredients and illustrates their pride in the region. In addition to brewing beer, bread and baked goods are made from scratch on-site and a chocolatier crafts specialty truffles that are paired with beer. A full kitchen dishes out exquisite farm-to-table meals all day. Nearly every ingredient on your plate is sourced from the island. Breakfast is the best kept secret. If you catch the intoxicating smell of their daily scone, you’ll know you need to enjoy one. And to bring a taste of Spinnakers home, a small shop located at the entrance, called Provisions, allows patrons to stock up on Spinnakers beers, bakery and chocolate truffles.
[We] have partnered with over 35 local farmers and producers who supply us with fresh, local foods all year long. We seek ingredients with good stories behind them, and our team brings it all together with their passion to make Spinnakers an authentic taste of Vancouver Island.
One of my favorite things about the craft beer community in British Columbia, including Spinnakers, is the prevalence of wheats, wits, and hefeweizen. It is my favorite style of beer and not so common at San Diego breweries. I enjoyed Red Fife Hefeweizen and Westsong Wit. The brewers have perfected the Belgian-style. The hefe is made with Red Fife wheat grown in BC and is described as having "subtle hints of bread, vanilla, banana and clove." How can that not be delicious?!
If you are looking for unique accommodations, then look no further than Spinnakers on-site guesthouses. I have to thank Spinnaker for putting us up for a night at their one bedroom garden suite. As always, all opinions are my own. The garden suite was private and quiet with all the necessary amenities to recuperate from our beer tasting. Guests are treated to Spinnakers best: a truffle/beer pairing and breakfast in the morning. We were delighted to learn that breakfast wasn’t some lousy continental you’d experience at a chain hotel, but any selection of our choosing off their full breakfast menu. And it was the breakfast, scones in particular, that won our hearts. Below are photos from our room and the path between the brewpub and our suite. With the beautiful landscaping and foliage, it's earned the name garden suite.
We loved Spinnakers so much that even after we checked out, we came back the next day for breakfast. We just had to come back for another scone. I'm telling you, they are life changing. Get out to Victoria, a great beer and food city, and made a stop at Spinnakers.
Spinnakers Brewpub and Guesthouses
308 Catherine, Victoria BC
Victoria Whale Watching: Intimate with Orcas
Whistler Worthy Brews
Summer in Whistler, BC
Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza
Notable Beer Stops in Santa Barbara's Wine Country
Anna Fleming, the Curly Vagabond, roams like a local, searching for adventure, tasty cuisine and the best craft beer; all with a sense of humor and a budget any working stiff could appreciate. Home base is Oceanside, CA in North San Diego County.