Crafting Excellence: Celebrating the Craft Breweries on Vancouver Island

When it comes to craft beer, Vancouver Island is a destination that stands out. This picturesque island on the southwestern coast of British Columbia, Canada, has earned a reputation as a craft beer paradise. With its stunning natural landscapes and a thriving craft beer scene, Vancouver Island has become a hub for beer enthusiasts from around the world. In this blog post, we’re here to celebrate this forward thinking industry and acknowledge the wins at a variety of 2023 Awards.

The Island’s Beer Revolution

Vancouver Island has been at the forefront of British Columbia’s craft beer revolution. Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of craft breweries popping up across the island. Today, you can find more than 40 craft breweries on the island, each offering a unique blend of flavors and experiences.

Breweries Beyond Victoria

While the capital city, Victoria, has a vibrant craft beer scene, the craft brewery love extends beyond its borders. Vancouver Island boasts breweries in towns and cities such as Nanaimo, Comox Valley, Cowichan, Parksville Qualicum Beach, Tofino, Ucluelet and Port Alberni. Each of these locations offers a unique setting and a distinct craft beer experience, often reflecting the local culture and environment.

The brewery locations range from urban taprooms in the heart of the cities to rustic, seaside establishments with stunning ocean views. 

Community and Sustainability

What truly sets Vancouver Island’s craft breweries apart is their commitment to the community and the environment. Many of these breweries source local ingredients, support local charities, and focus on sustainable brewing practices. It’s not just about beer; it’s about being good stewards of the land and fostering a sense of togetherness. Collaboration is also key, as our breweries collaborate with each other to craft small and large batch unique offerings.

This past summer, when a wildfire took out access to the west coast on Highway 4, we saw the ultimate demonstration of community in this industry, when the owner of Cumberland Brewing Company jumped in his Cessna and delivered hops to Twin City Brewing in the cut off community of Port Alberni.

Vancouver Island’s craft beer scene is a testament to the island’s natural beauty, innovative spirit, and community values. The plethora of breweries, each with its unique identity and flavors, makes the island a craft beer enthusiast’s dream destination. Whether you’re exploring the historic streets of a city or enjoying the coastal scenery of the coast, there’s a craft brewery waiting to share its passion for beer with you. 

2023 Canadian Brewing Awards

The Canadian Brewing Awards invites Canadian majority-owned breweries of all sizes to compete in a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) sanctioned blind tasting determining the best beers in 59 style categories. A Canadian Brewing Award medal is a widely recognized symbol of Canadian brewing excellence.

With over 800 breweries coming together to compete for a chance to win a coveted medal in one of the 59 categories, take a look at the Vancouver Island breweries who scored a top spot:

Whistle Buoy Brewing Co.
Market Square, Lower Courtyard, #63, 560 Johnson St, 
Victoria, BC

Category: Historic/Regional Beers
Award: Silver
Beer: Garden City Fieldberry

Ace Brewing Co.
150 Mansfield Dr, 
Courtenay, BC

Category: Specialty IPA
Award: Bronze
Beer: Cold IPA

Twin City Brewing Co.
4503 Margaret St, 
Port Alberni, BC

Category: Experimental Beer
Award: Bronze
Beer: Bottlecap Cherry Cola Sour

Category: American-style Sour Ale
Award: Bronze
Beer: Unicycle Sour IPA w/ El Dorado

Category: German-Style Sour Ale
Award: Silver
Beer: Obscura Berliner-Style Weisse w/ Plum

Category: Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel
Award: Bronze
Beer: Nocturne Belgian-style Quadrupel

Dog Mountain Brewing
3141 3rd Ave, 
Port Alberni, BC

Category: Belgian-Style Dubbel or Quadrupel
Award: Gold
Beer: Friar Belgian Quad

Small Gods Brewing Co.
9835 Third St, 
Sidney, BC

Category: Session Ale
Award: Gold
Beer: Promised Land

Category: European Style Lager (Pilsner)
Award: Silver
Beer: Neverending

Île Sauvage Brewing Co.
2960 Bridge St, 
Victoria, BC

Category: Fruit Beer or Field Beer
Award: Bronze
Beer: Raspberry Sour

Hoyne Brewing Co.
2740 Bridge St #101, 
Victoria, BC

Category: Dry Stout
Award: Gold
Beer: Finnegan’s Irish stout

Category: Kellerbier/Zwickelbier
Award: Honorable Mention
Beer: Helios

Ucluelet Brewing Company
1601 Peninsula Rd, 
Ucluelet, BC

Category: Porter
Award: Silver
Beer: St. Aiden’s Porter

Riot Brewing Co.
101A, 3055 Oak St, 
Chemainus, BC

Category: Kellerbier/Zwickelbier
Award: Bronze
Beer: Lipslide Lager

Moon Under Water Brewery
350 Bay St, 
Victoria, BC

Category: Kellerbier/Zwickelbier
Award: Silver
Beer: Potts Pils

Sooke Oceanside Brewery
5871-A Sooke Rd, 
Sooke, BC

Category: Bock – Traditional German Style
Award: Bronze
Beer: Graveyard of the Pacific

Congratulations to these breweries on their hard work and dedication to the craft!

So, if you’re on Vancouver Island, don’t forget to raise a glass and savor the liquid artistry that this island has to offer. Cheers to the craft beer paradise of Vancouver Island!

Canada beer cup

The Canada Beer Cup™ is a national competition celebrating independently owned and operated breweries across Canada. It showcases quality and innovation in craft beer from coast to coast to coast.

4C – English Style Brown Ale/Scottish Style 60/- to 80/- AleGoldEmber Red AleBeach Fire Brewing CompanyCampbell River
4A – Mild AleBronzeWorking Class Hero Dark MildRiot BrewingChemainus
2B – Cream or Golden AleBronzeDrop Tank Blonde AleAce Brewing Co.Courtenay
8A – Porter/Robust PorterBronzeLow Pressure PorterMount Arrowsmith Brewing CompanyParksville
3G – IPA of 8.1% ABV or greaterGoldBike YikesTwin City Brewing CompanyPort Alberni
4F – Belgian Style Dark Strong AleSilverNocturneTwin City Brewing Company Port Alberni
4D – Barley WineBronzeCategory 12’s 8th Anniversary BeerCategory 12 BrewingSaanichton
9C – Wild or Mixed Fermentation Beer with FruitBronzeEffect-Belgian Style Sour with Sour Cherries Category 12 Brewing Saanichton
4E – Belgian Style Dubbel or Other Belgian Style Dark AleBronzeBelgian DubbelSalt Spring Brewing CompanySalt Spring Island
6D – Bock (inc. Helles Bock)SilverGraveyard of the PacificSooke Oceanside BrewerySooke
1A – Canadian Grain-Forward BeerBronzeLoJo LightWhistle Buoy Brewing Co.Victoria
3B – Pale AleSilverNorthern Swell Coastal Pale AleVancouver Island BrewingVictoria
6E – DoppelbockSilverHermannator Ice Bock Vancouver Island Brewing Victoria
6C – North American Amber or Dark LagerGoldDark MatterHoyneVictoria

BC Beer Awards

The BC Beer Awards are an annual event that celebrates and recognizes the excellence in the craft beer industry in British Columbia. These awards showcase the best breweries, beers, and beer-related achievements in the province. The event features a competition where breweries submit their beers in various categories for evaluation by a panel of expert judges. Awards are then given to the top-performing beers in each category.

Rookie of The Year
Swift Brewing

Innovator of the Year
Small Gods Brewing

Brewery of the Year
Twin City Brewing

Best in Show
Hoyne Brewing – Dark Matter

A full list of winners can be viewed here.

Twin City Brewing takes home Brewery of the Year

Your Guide to Craft Beer on Vancouver Island

The Vancouver Island Beer Guide has been curated to invite locals and visitors to experience the amazing beer scene here while exploring the various regions of the Island and all they have to offer — whether it’s the agricultural splendour of the warm Cowichan Valley, the rugged and beautiful wild west coast, the sheltered beaches that stretch for miles along the east coast, the urban pleasures of Victoria, Nanaimo and Courtenay-Comox, or the many varied outdoor activities readily accessible here, including biking, hiking, skiing, surfing, paddling, caving and climbing. Vancouver Island is a fantastic place to visit so be warned, once you come here you might never want to leave.