If you’re in British Columbia and need an excuse to have a pint, here’s three:
- October is BC Craft Beer Month
- The BC Ale Trail is celebrating 5 years of connecting travellers to local brews
- The single-batch Explore BC IPA, a brand new beer showcasing tastes of BC, just launched across the province
That’s more than enough reason for #WCTExplorer Amy Attas to hit the streets of Victoria and raise a glass to BC. Please remember to drink responsibly, and schedule breaks for meals and exercise between your BC beers.
Stop 1: Vancouver Island Brewing
Within walking distance of Victoria’s downtown shops sits Vancouver Island Brewing, one of six breweries who collaborated on the Explore BC IPA. So how does it taste? You’ll notice the haskap and blackberries right away, and subtle Abbotsford hops keep things interesting. In the IPA’s initial popularity surge around 2014 many breweries opted for a flavour profile like a bitter pine forest, but the Explore BC IPA is definitely more drinkable.
Also on tap for autumn is the Nanaimo Bar Porter, with a nice balance of sweet molasses and dark beer bitterness. Even on a blind taste test you’ll likely recognize flavours from the familiar dessert — chocolate for sure, and maybe even a hint of the custard, coconut or vanilla that makes a Nanaimo Bar so irresistible.
Stop 2: Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.
A lazy 300-metre stumble from Vancouver Island Brewing is your second stop on the downtown Victoria Ale Trail, Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. When Matt Phillips started the brewery in 2001 it was a one-man operation — he brewed and bottled the beer himself, and lived in an apartment upstairs — but two decades later it’s BC’s biggest craft brewery with a full slate of beers, sodas, gin, and even their own roasting maltworks. Right now their tasting room is equipped with spray bottles of their company-made hand sanitizer, and a knowledgable, down-to-earth staff ready to answer all your questions. Look for the fun history near the brewing window to read tales of beer floods and food fights.
Phillips Blue Buck is the flagship brew, a crisp ale with great flavour, and while it’s been around a while it wasn’t one of Matt’s original bottles. This spring the team brought back Raspberry Wheat Ale, one of the original three, with a slightly tweaked recipe. It tastes more like a champagne cocktail than a post-game pint — the flavours are well blended and the berries taste natural, not artificial. For a more traditional beer flavour try the Space Goat, a golden ale with a smooth oat finish.
Stop 3: Moon Under Water Brewpub and Distillery
Take a break from beer to walk around the industrial waterfront at Rock Bay, then grab a table at Moon Under Water Brewpub. If you’re ready for something more substantial, the a kid-friendly restaurant offers a full slate of pub grub to accompany your pint. Moon Under Water has a full range of pilsners, IPAs and dark lagers, but their recent experiments in barrel-aged sour beers might be more interesting to an intrepid traveller like yourself. Some sours can be overwhelming, but The Moon Juice Rasperry Sour is more accessible — similar to a cider, without being too sweet. Then there’s the Peaches & Cream Sour, the creamy Lemon Meringue Sour, and returning for a limited run this October — the Dimebag Sourkey IPA. Brewed with a few bags of sourkey candies, tempered by heavy metal hops.
Also in the area…
Your stomach may be full but you can always grab a growler to-go from the other breweries in the area — the BC Ale Trail isn’t lying when they call Victoria ‘the cradle of the craft beer revolution.’ Try the Voltage Espresso Stout from Hoyne Brewing Co., brewed with Habit Coffee’s locally roasted, ethically grown organic coffee beans and British roasted malts for a deep, dark pint. Just around the corner is Driftwood Brewery where the latest potion is Eccentricity Wheat Wine, clocking in at 11.4 per cent ABV. Or stick with the tried and true local favourite, Fat Tug IPA.
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