Friday, January 11, 2013

BC beer travels 2012 - Part 3: Vancouver Island


I feel somewhat guilty that this part is so small. Vancouver Island, Victoria especially, has a lot of good beer stuff going on but 6 days of kayaking and 2 days of GCBF tends to dominate most of your time. We were also drinking some of the bottles picked up in Vancouver...

In the middle of nowhere…

Well to some extent. 

We went kayaking for 6 days in the Broughtons (A-M-A-Z-I-N-G) and on the final night we had company at the campsite. This company comprised of two (possible retired guys) on their annual fishing trip without the wives. They had pretty much set up camp on this tiny island for some time and happened to have cold beers on their boat which they happily paddled to so we could partake. (We may have admired their empties in advance of the offer...) Much to my delight (you know where this is going) they had ONE can of Red Racer Pale Ale left and, being the gentleman that he is, the other half let me have it. Absolutely perfect setting to drink this and such a lovely pale ale. Had loads of grapefruit and I think it may have tasted punchier than their IPA.

Craig Street Brew Pub

Ahhh Duncan. We would not stop here for any other reason. It’s maybe a 2 hour drive from Nanaimo to Victoria but we timed this drive so we could stop at Duncan for lunch at the brewpub.

The beers:

  • Shawnigan Irish Ale – exactly as I remembered it and still love it. Nothing fancy and tasted particularly good after driving in the hot sun.

Swans Brewery

We finally made it to a pub in Victoria! It’s really quite shameful because there are at least four or five worth visiting (so I hear) and on our last trip I stupidly thought they were nowhere near downtown. Victoria is also so prominent in BC beer history… 

Anyway we made it and had pre-Cirque de Soleil drinks and dinner. Back in the (not so good) old days the powers-that-be insisted that only hotels could have brewpubs/serve their own beers. Swans is one of these places and still has a hotel as well. The interior is a little odd; the carpet and chairs scream “older generation” but it was also full of beautiful native artwork. 

I almost felt like I was back in Auckland at Galbraiths because this is a place you could sit and read a book while drinking a pint. I should point out that your pint would also be hand-pulled. The food was awesome; the beers were awesome.

The beers:

  • Buckerfield's Bitter (ESB) – clean with light bitterness and so sessionable, especially at 5%.

  • Riley’s Scotch Ale – not so sessionable at 8% but lovely nonetheless. Everything a good scotch ale should be but perhaps a slightly sweeter style than some.