South Vancouver Island Craft Brewery Guide

Posted by Jay Jordan on

A Beer Lover's Guide to Craft Breweries on South Vancouver Island

Victoria, BC is a craft beer powerhouse. With so many amazing breweries to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. In this guide, we will introduce you to some of Victoria's best craft beer breweries. Whether you're a local or just visiting, we guarantee you'll find something you love!

Besides a few small breaks here and there, beer has been brewed in Victoria for well over 150 years. When it comes to craft beer specifically, the South Island is a special place. Spinnakers opened in 1984, making it Canada’s first brewpub. Today, there are around 20 breweries between Swartz Bay and Sooke.

There are more breweries per person in the city of Victoria than anywhere else, which means you have a huge variety of craft beer to choose from! From classic beer styles to wild sours and a constant rotation of new innovations, the South Island is a beer lover’s paradise.

If that wasn’t enough, events like Victoria Beer Week and Great Canadian Beer Festival keep things on the beer scene fresh and exciting!

Greater Victoria Breweries

Victoria Brewery Guide

Lighthouse Brewing Co.

Lighthouse Beer
For a long time, Lighthouse Brewing was out on its own in Esquimalt, but they are gaining new neighbours all the time now. Their nautical theme reflects the area’s seafaring identity. They are well known for a couple of their IPAs like the Numbskull, Ghost Ship Hazy, and the Shipwreck IPAs. Lighthouse Brewing can be found around the Upper Harbour in Esquimalt, also known as Brewery Bay or The Beer Mile.

Driftwood Shipwreck IPA

Lighthouse Brewing Shipwreck IPA

A true West Coast-style, hop-forward IPA with a taste of down-under. This unique combination of northern and southern hemisphere hops delivers a perfectly balanced beer with stone fruit and citrus notes, and a pleasantly refreshing finish.

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Driftwood Brewing

Driftwood BreweryDriftwood Brewery is a craft brewery that has been producing top-quality beer since 2009. They recently expanded and relocated to Esquimalt from Rock Bay. Their growth reflects the love and support of their fans. Fat Tug IPA is almost synonymous with Driftwood -- it is so dominant that it could be considered a benchmark example of a West Coast IPA. Driftwood’s lineup goes well beyond Fat Tug, however. They have several highly sought-after seasonal releases like Sartori Harvest IPA and Singularity, a Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, as well as their core lineup.

Driftwood Fat Tug

Driftwood Fat Tug

Brewed with the hop aficionado in mind, Fat Tug is a Northwest-style India Pale Ale with an intense hop profile featuring notes of grapefruit, mango, melon, and passionfruit. Sufficient malt is there to provide support and is sure to satisfy anyone with a thirst for all things hoppy.

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Spinnakers Brewpub

Spinnakers Brewery Spinnakers has been brewing beer since 1984 and is Canada's original brewpub. This also makes them an important stop for serious craft beer aficionados. Some of their most popular brews include the West Coast Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, and Nut Brown Ale.

île Sauvage Brewing Co.

Ile Sauvage Brewingîle Sauvage Brewing is the newest brewery in Rock Bay. They opened their doors to an intensely passionate fan base and their support has grown quickly. The name île Sauvage is French for ‘wild island’, and it reflects both the island home of the brewery and the way they make beer. Brewmaster Stephane Turcotte makes a range of wild, fermented, and sour beers. The lineup is steadily rotating, but you can always count on an interesting selection of saisons, sours, and hazy beers as well as something a little unexpected.

Ile Sauvage Sour

île Sauvage Tropique Sour

Fermented with their house-mixed culture of bacteria and yeast, then aged on huge amounts of pink guava and vanilla.

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Hoyne Brewing Co.

Hoyne BrewingHoyne Brewing is one of the most popular craft beer breweries in Victoria. It was founded in 2006 by Sean Hoyne. Sean established a reputation as a brewmaster at a couple of local brewpubs before striking out on his own in 2011. Hoyne Brewing is best known for Dark Matter and Hoyne Pilsner -- two staples of Victoria’s craft beer scene. Hoyne excels at brewing classic styles using high-quality local ingredients. If you’ve already tried Dark Matter and Hoyne Pilsner, your next step must be Helios Dortmunder or Down Easy Pale Ale.

Hoyne Down Easy Pale Ale

Hoyne Down Easy Pale Ale

Classic Pacific Northwest Pale Ale flavours, full, fresh, floral hop aroma. Lightly dry hopped.

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Moon Under Water Brewpub

Moon Under Water BrewingMoon Under Water is a brewpub in Rock Bay focused on brewing beer using traditional German methods. In addition, they have recently begun a program of making sour and barrel-aged beers. Moon Under Water takes its intriguing name from a George Orwell essay describing his ideal pub. The theme of the moon carries through to the names of the beers, including the Bright Side of the Moon; a Session Lager with bright citrus notes, and the Dark Side of the Moon; an Oatmeal Stout. The Potts Pilsner is also worth checking out.

Moon Under Water Potts Pilsner

Moon Under Water Potts Pilsner

Brewed in the style of the great north German pilsners. Saaz hops shine through Bohemian malts to produce a crisp, dry-hopped and citrusy beer.

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Vancouver Island Brewing

Vancouver Island BrewingAn easy walk from Phillips, Vancouver Island Brewing is another local brewery with a long and storied history. VIB was established in 1984 as Island Pacific Brewing. Over the years they have produced several iconic beers including Hermannator, a seasonal Bock style beer, as well as Dominion Dark Lager, a German-style Black Lager. VIB continues to put out tasty new beers including the popular Broken Islands Hazy IPA and Twisted Stalk Blackberry Helles, both of which are included in the popular Summer Outpost Mixer.

Vancouver Island Brewing Outpost Mix Pack

Vancouver Island Brewing Summer Outpost Mixer

Fresh, fruity, and fun! The Summer Outpost Mix Pack contains flavours inspired by summer vibes. Best enjoyed outdoors!

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Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.

Phillips Brewery Tasting RoomPhillips Brewing and Malting is one of the larger breweries in Victoria, BC. However, it wasn’t always this way. Founder and namesake Matt Phillips is something of a legendary figure and wild startup stories are still often shared 20 years down the road. If you do a brewery tour, be sure to ask about the great Phoenix beer flood of 2004!

Innovation is the name of game at Phillips with new beers coming out in a steady stream. They're also known for a wide variety of favourites, including Blue Buck, Analogue 78 Kolsch, and Dino Sour.

Phillips Brewing Box Set Mixed Pack

Phillips Brewing Box Set Mixed Pack

Blue Buck, Pilsner, Analogue 78 Kolsch, and Phoenix are the perfect mix track playlist for your next gathering.

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Herald Street Brew Works

Herold Street Brew WorksHerald Street Brew Works is a newer brewery in Victoria’s Old Town that offers a unique experience for craft beer lovers. This is a small brewery with a solid craft beer pedigree. Herald Street Brew Works was established by the owners of the Drake Street Eatery and Steel and Oak Brewing in New West Minister. Everything they make is in very small batches and rotates constantly. This is another brewery you might have to visit to taste their beers. You may see a few of their distinctive black and white cans in one of our stores if you’re lucky, but they are rare.

Whistle Buoy Brewing Co.

Whistle Buoy BrewingWhistle Buoy Brewing Company opened in Market Square in 2019. It is another of the new breed of very small breweries that have gotten established in the past few years. Again, that means you might have to visit them to taste the steady rotation of beers they are producing. We do see some of their products when they happen to trickle into our stores, so be sure to ask and maybe you’ll get lucky.

South Island Breweries

South Island Breweries

Howl Brewing

Howl BrewingHowl Brewing is a tiny brewery in Sidney, just north of the airport that specializes in truly unique craft beer. They have an ever-changing lineup of often old and nearly forgotten beer styles combined with interesting local ingredients. This approach yields some interesting results like their Chaga Spruce Lager, a lager lightly flavoured with Chaga mushrooms and spruce tips. Other beers include a Sarsaparilla Ale and a Hibiscus Orange IPA. Unfortunately, due to their very small size, you may have to visit them to taste their beer. Occasionally we are lucky enough to get a few of their beers in select stores but they are not widely available.

Twa Dogs Brewery

TWA Dogs BrewingAs shown in the name, your furry friends are also welcome in this brewery and distillery! This brewery was founded by Graeme Macaloney, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland with a passion for beer and whisky. Each brew here is inspired by a Robert Burns poem, and so is the name of the brewery and distillery. Take a fun tour to learn more about the distillery process or book a tasting for yourself.

Sooke Oceanside Brewery

Sooke Oceanside BrewerySooke Oceanside Brewing started off as a passion project in a small garage. It began with Ryan Orr, a chef who was interested in beer-making and had a dream of opening a waterfront brewery someday. This dream eventually turned into Sooke Oceanside Brewing, where you can now taste an amazing range of beers including their signature brews like the Renfrew Red Ale and Springboard IPA as well as Sessions’ Blue Raspberry and Ginger Lime Seltzers.

Bad Dog Brewing Co.

Bad Dog BrewingBad Dog Brewing is John and Rosie Lyle’s labour of love. Located in downtown Sooke, this microbrewery extends its playful name into the names of its beers like Dizzy Dogs, Octodog Apocalypse, and Dog’s Breakfast. The brewery also has a beautiful picnic area where locals can enjoy a sip of their favourite brew with a view.

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