BUSINESS BEAT: Craft brewers around Victoria are like a family

Vancouver Island Brewery one of many local brewers to win B.C., national awards

Adam Ball

Behind the bar in a tasting room at Vancouver Island Brewery, a row of pub-style draw handles feature some of the company’s best-known beers: Hermann’s Dark Lager, Sea Dog Amber Ale, Spyhopper Honey Brown.

In front of the taps sits a long row of smaller handles. Except they aren’t taps – they’re national and provincial awards the company has won for its varied collection of beers.

Vancouver Island Brewery, the Island’s oldest craft brewery – the industry term for small-batch operations – has won many accolades for its beers since it began brewing in 1984. But that industry pedigree isn’t a card the company necessarily feels comfortable playing, sales manager Rob Ringma says.

He considers competitors that have emerged locally in recent decades – successful retailers such as Phillips and Lighthouse and brew pubs like Spinnakers (Victoria’s first), Canoe and Swan’s as “brothers in the growing family of craft beer manufacturers.”

Vancouver Island Brewery has been invigorated, Ringma says, by the healthy craft beer market locally. In keeping with the creativity that abounds in the industry, the company continues to experiment with seasonal brews that surprise the palette and give consumers a flavourful alternative to wine, when it comes to food pairings.

“Doing unique and interesting beers is something we love doing,” says Ringma, who has been in the business 15 years. “It’s nice to be pillars of the craft brewing industry, but it’s also fun to work in a place where you have a passion.”

He described a summer open house at the brewery where two kegs were set up, and visitors asked to taste and comment on two recipes being considered for a seasonal brew that became Storm Watcher Winter Lager.

“We see ourselves as being here to brew beer for friends, family and the community,” he says.

It’s about creating unique, interesting beverages that give beer consumers an alternative to the “big guys,” adds Adam Ball, the brewery’s aptly titled manager of beer experience.

Overall, beers produced by South Island brewers gained plenty of recognition in 2012.

At the B.C. Beer Awards last month, Victoria-brewed beers won 10 medals.

Golds went to brewmaster Dean Mcleod from Lighthouse Brewery for his Keeper’s Stout (against 13 other stouts) and Belgian White (one of 22 beers in the wheat/rye category), to Vancouver Island Brewery’s Ralf Pittroff for his Hermannator Ice Bock in the “strong” category, and Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewery for his Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale.

At the Canadian Beer Awards held this summer, Pittroff and company grabbed gold for their Vancouver Island Lager and Hermann’s Dark Lager. The national event saw Victoria brew pubs collect hardware as well, including Swan’s, which topped the Scotch Ale category.

Ideas percolate at Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend Victoria, set for Nov. 9 to 11, is a three-day competition where entrepreneurs gather to pitch, plan and launch new businesses in a constructive and collaborative environment.

Located in the Accelerate Tectoria workspace at 2659 Douglas St., the weekend event is part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. The idea is to pair experienced mentors with new entrepreneurs and to help foster the relationships required for success, said Victoria organizer Evan Williams.

The $99 registration fee covers instruction, mentorship and meals. Tickets and information are available at swvictoria.eventbrite.com.

Urban Barn offers up blankets

Uptown retailer Urban Barn is running its Blanket the Country in Warmth campaign this month. For every $5 donation in-store, the company will provide a new blanket to the Victoria Cool-Aid Society, which operates three emergency shelters locally, with 114 beds.

Names in the business news

Former Peninsula Co-op CEO and general manager Ron Heal joined Accutemp Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating Ltd. as a partner, effective Nov. 1 … Heather Skydt is the new director of communications for United Way Greater Victoria, after serving in the same capacity with The Land Conservancy … Designer Alex Zimmerman of Applied Green Consulting won the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C.’s Tech Green individual award last weekend for “taking a lead role or having substantial positive impacts on green living, sustainable best practices, energy conservation and environmental benefit.”

Send your business news to editor@vicnews.com.

Just Posted

Skygazers spot mysterious flaming object during Sunday’s lunar eclipse

University of Victoria astronomer explains the “glowing object”

Evicted UVic student questions Saanich’s housing bylaw

Emma Edmonds had been living with six roommates, while the bylaw states you cannot exceed four

Ousted legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

Saanich axes proposal to spare Garry oaks

Staff are currently developing a comprehensive bio-diversity strategy

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

B.C. Green leader calls for long-term legislature financial audit

Andrew Weaver says trust in clerk and sergeant at arms is gone

No charges in fatal police Taser incident in Chilliwack

RCMP watchdog concludes no evidence of excessive or disproportionate force was used by officers

Vancouver Island pot giant Tilray buying Ontario cannabis company for $70 million

Nanaimo cannabis company to acquire Natura Naturals and Ontario greenhouse facility

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Most Read