Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is only about 25 miles from Bellingham as the crow--or should it be the gull?--flies, but we can't get their beers unless we go there. nor can they get ours. This spring a range of breweries, among the very first in the craft beer renaissance, celebrate 30th anniversaries, and two of them are in Victoria, which was good enough to throw a craft beer week the first week of March.
Spinnakers is special because of all the fine breweries in that class of '84 (Pyramid, Widmer Bros., Bridgeport on our side of the line, Granville Island and Vancouver Island Brewing on theirs) it is probably the least changed. What would you change when you have a million dollar view of Victoria's Inner Harbor, and a beautifully furnished building with a posh restaurant downstairs and a casual pub above.
A few blocks walk on a sunny afternoon takes one to Moon Under Water,also a working brewery with a food-serving pub. Here, I stopped for lunch, appetizers and a pint of Creepy Uncle Dunkel.
Multiple batches end up in one of six 20 barrel fermenters (Canadian brewers talk hectoliters, but Clay translated the capacity for me) and one flat-bottomed
open-top fermenter he is using for those Belgian recipes that slurp up yeast from
A couple of blocks up from the Moon brings on to two production breweries, almost side by side. Hoyne Brewing and Driftwood Brewing are so close, in this industrial district, that they share a parking lot. And over the parking lot runs a pipe that was used in perhaps the most collaborative brewing project ever undertaken. As Joe Wiebe reported in the latest NW Brewing News, each house brewed a batch of baltic porter with the same ingredients except for the yeast. Driftwood used an ale yeast and Hoyne a lager yeast. Using the pipe, Hoyne sent its batch across the parking lot to be combined with the ale yeast version in a big tank at Driftwood and kegged off as Rock Bay Mash Up Baltic Porter.
Several more blocks of walking in this industrial part of town takes one to Vancouver Island Brewing, another one of the class of '84 celebrating thirty years of making beer. This, too, is a production brewery with limited growler filling hours, but it is large. I failed to record the capacity but it has to be in the hectoliter equivalent of a 50-barrel plant. The look is modern, built in the mid-90s as it outgrew the original plant.
The balance of my day was spent at two downtown brewpubs and a public event held as part of the first beer week in Victoria. That will be covered in my next post. These notes are getting old!