Chef Derrek Leong

Chef Derrek Leong

BUSINESS BEAT: Beermaking a shared craft for Victoria brewmaster

Young businessman hopes to attract beer fans, social crowd to Bay Street brew pub

It’s a Thursday afternoon in Rock Bay and westbound traffic along Bay Street is starting to get thick.

Across from Butler Brothers cement works, in a non-descript commercial building, a handful of diners are eating lunch inside Victoria’s youngest brew pub.

Moon Under Water, under new ownership at 350 Bay St. since Sept. 1, is a family operation guided by brewmaster Clay Potter. His fiancée Chelsea Walker, mom Anne Farmer and stepdad Steve Ash are also key partners in the business, serving in various roles.

“It’s a work in progress,” Potter says, looking at freshly replaced wood flooring and walls decorated with large photos of brewmasters from local and out-of-town breweries. “We’re still trying to find the look that we want.”

At 28 and less than two years removed from attaining a masters degree in brewing and distilling in Scotland, he is full of fresh ideas – they’ve developed four of their own brews and have begun bottling for resale. Not only that, he is keen on helping transform the craft beer environment in Greater Victoria.

Where brew pubs and breweries were once rivals that shared little about their works, a more co-operative scenario is emerging, says Potter, a Claremont secondary grad and former Lighthouse Brewery staffer.

Moon Under Water hosts the occasional “Tap Takeover” night, where brewmasters from other pubs and breweries come in and offer patrons a taste of their craft beers.

The next such event, featuring national Brewery of the Year, Central City, happens May 8 as a prelude to the Canadian Brewing Awards, set for May 9 to 11 at the Inn at Laurel Point.

The business model has paid off so far, Potter says.

The “guest host” nights are popular with patrons and receive good word-of-mouth advertising amongst the beer connoisseur crowd.

“I see my market as kind of like for wine,” he says, calling the small-batch brewing style more “artisinal.”

Along that line, the pub offers beer-and-food pairings for those who enjoy sampling. For the do-it-yourself crowd, they host home-brewer nights with an education component.

In conjunction with the concept of freshly brewed beer on offer, the menu at Moon Under Water – Camosun College culinary arts grad Derrek Leong is in charge – features many home-grown ingredients as a way of promoting food security and freshness.

Despite the somewhat awkward location, Potter and company aim to make the pub a destination for both locals and visitors alike.

It’s walking distance from hundreds of condos along the Galloping Goose Trail and an easy stop on the way home for the numerous workers in the Rock Bay industrial district.

Moon Under Water, 350B Bay St., 250-380-0706, moonunderwater.ca.

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