CNN Travel recently published a list of 15 great beer cities around the world. Some of it is highly debatable, since the list seems to include dubious major cities in areas better-known for wine (Lisbon) and hard liquor (Poland, Estonia) and omits many traditionally-celebrated beer-specific destinations (no Bruges, Pilsen, Portland, Denver, San Diego or anything in the British Isles, Central Europe or the Western US; ouch). However, the entry you won’t hear us complaning about is Victoria BC.
It’s curious that the author (who seems to be based in the Eastern US, judging by his picks) knows beer well enough to pick out Victoria despite the aforementioned. Here’s what he said about Canada’s original Capital of Craft:
Say cheers to the 15 best beer cities around the world
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
The beer revolution came early to Victoria, with its first brewpub opening in 1984 and the number of breweries and beer-focused outlets steadily growing since then. Swans Brewery, one of BC’s craft beer pioneers, continues to draw loyal fans to its well-appointed brewpub and hotel. It’s around the corner from Canoe Brewpub, a fellow elder statesman of the scene, where you can kick back with a juicy pale ale on the patio.
The next generation of Victoria craft beer is exemplified by Hoyne, a brewery created by the former brewmaster at Swans and co-founder of Canoe. Sean Hoyne now flies his own flag with creations like Entre Nous, a Belgian-style witbier brewed with BC cherries. And Driftwood Beer pushes the limits even further with inventive beers like the Raised by Wolves IPA brewed with juicy Ekuanot hops and wild yeast.
The author neglected to mention Spinnakers by name, and referred to Driftwood Brewery by its Internet handle. But he included a photo by Victoria’s #1 beer photographer Matt Schmitz, and we definitely feel the authentic love for the home of Canada’s original Beer Mile.
The best time to travel to Victoria
And the perfect opportunity to rekindle that love affair with Victoria’s beer scene awaits, just a month away at the nation’s longest-running celebration of ale, the Great Canadian Beer Festival. Slated for September 6th and 7th, it’s back for its 27th year at the hands of a brand new management team that’s injecting it with some serious new energy. Check out what they’ve been doing with the event:
As we detailed in that story, the new folks have dialled back the years and restored the tradition of inviting breweries from all over Canada. This year’s festival will feature the largest number of breweries in the event’s history (by a significant margin). At somewhere between 90 and 100 brands expected, there’s no event in BC with this many breweries short of the monster Vancouver Craft Beer Week Festival.
Here’s a pro tip from us: if you can do it, get to GCBF for the Friday event. It’s the beer enthusiast’s preferred day; you’ll experience fresh pours with less competition and less risk of tap-outs. But Saturday is also awesome for the party atmosphere. Here are the event details: