The last 30 years have seen an explosion in small craft breweries and brew pubs on Vancouver Island, mirroring industry trends. But Vancouver Island’s brewing history goes back much further than that – to 1858 – when the first commercial brewery in Western Canada was opened near Victoria, in Saanich. Victoria Brewing was the brainchild of German immigrant William Steinberger, who originally travelled here to search for gold, but saw the opening in the brewing trade. He brewed beer for two years before being bought out by Labatts.
Today, Victoria remains a centre for craft brewing, with enough breweries and brewpubs to rival the much bigger Vancouver.
The island also boasts a variety of breweries and brewpubs to the north and west of Victoria in places like Saltspring Island, Duncan, Nanaimo and Tofino.
Many local breweries source hops and barley from the Pacific Northwest for their craft beers.
Natural ingredients and processes, small batches and creativity are all central to the craft beer trade on Vancouver Island. Islanders are big supporters of local breweries, and the industry also caters to a large visiting population.
Vancouver Island brews are increasingly a viable alternative to mass-produced products.
Brewery tours are a popular way to learn about the Vancouver Island brewing industry, with most large breweries offering daily tours and tastings. Brewpubs offer their own craft beer paired with west coast cuisine.
You’ll find some Vancouver Island microbrewery beer bottled for the wider market, but the best place to enjoy it is here on the island.