Thanks to a delayed flight out of New York, I missed my connection in Toronto and arrived much later in Victoria than expected so I wasn't able to make the welcome reception at Vancouver Island Brewery. Instead, I had no choice but to drink a Molson Canadian on the plane. But I did get to try Vancouver Island's Hermann's Dark Lager on a pub crawl the next night. It was a pleasantly malty beer with a subtle hop profile.
After the first day's seminars were over, there was a "Brewers BBQ" at Phillips Brewing Company. Earlier in the day, Phillips hosted the Great Canadian Collaboration where all of the brewers were invited to join in a collaborative brew using ingredients that they brought with them (local honey, locally grown and malted barley, locally grown wheat, etc.). The beer selection was limited (2 taps and a small selection of bottles) but the drafts were dispensed from an amazing carnivalesque truck outfitted with taps.
Then it was off to a pub crawl of local bars around Victoria. The first stop - and for me, only stop - was Garrick's Head Pub which has been around since 1867. They had large selection of local ("brewed within 2 km of the pub") and regional (Vancouver and other parts of BC) beers. The selection was so good that, when some of us heard that the next stop had fewer taps and was more expensive, we decided to stay there for the rest of the evening. Aside from the aforementioned Hermann's Dark Lager, I also tried something billed as Beer Thirst Odin Freya's Gold. Since it was on the Vancouver side of the tap list, I assumed that it was a BC beer, but it turns out that Beer Thirst is an importer/agent based in Vancouver and Odin is actually a brewery from California. It was a solid kölsch beer but I was more enamored of the carved wooden dragon tap handle (which I forgot to take a photo of. Blame it on the beers!) I also enjoyed 2 local beers: Driftwood Brewery's Crooked Coast Alt and Hoyne Dark Matter, described to me as "not really a brown ale, not really a stout". It was most like a hoppy, roasty porter.
The bartenders were extremely helpful and very patient, even on a busy Friday night, indulging my many questions since I was unfamiliar with any of the breweries. A bit of culture shock to me was seeing the bar start to empty out around 11pm. When I left around midnight to walk back to the hotel, there was hardly anyone on the streets. Downtown, on a Friday night. Not the same as the East Village on a Friday.
|Legislative Building on a quiet Friday night|
|Thanks for the ride!|
After a very filling lunch of seafood poutine and a grilled oyster tacones at Red Fish Blue Fish, located in a shipping container on a pier, I made my way to the Canoe Brewpub located in an airy brick building right on the Inner Harbor. I had a sampler of their 6 beers currently on tap. The Red Canoe Lager, 5.2% was a malty Czech Pils with crisp bitterness. Siren's Song Pale Ale, 5%, was very hoppy throughout, in both aroma and flavor. River Rock Bitter, 5.2% was less hoppy than the Pale Ale and was nicely balanced with a solid malt base; this one was probably my favorite of the bunch. Beaver Brown Ale, 5.4% didn't have much aroma but did have a roasty, coffee-like flavor. Their Belgian Dubbel, 5.6%, was their seasonal selection. It was fruity and estery but not particularly balanced. It also had an odd hint of tartness and a thin body. Definitely my least favorite of their beers.
Then it was a walk around to the other side of the harbor and a visit to Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub. This was a late stop that I missed on the pub crawl the night before so I wanted to check it out. I did a sampler of 4 of their beers:
|Beer sampler at Spinnakers|
|The view from Spinnakers' upstairs deck|
Overall, I enjoyed most of the beers that I tried during my stay but nothing really blew me away. It seemed like most breweries had a fairly standard line up of beers that were often solidly brewed but not outstanding. That said, Victoria has a thriving brewing scene and I wasn't able to get to all of the breweries or try beers from all of them. I think that a longer return visit will be required because Bob really wants to try that seafood poutine.
|"Seal" you later!|