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Q&A With Vancouver Island’s Newest Breweries

In a region where the residents thrive on creative juices, it’s no surprise that the craft beer scene is fueling inspiration and driving new breweries to open their doors. We love seeing this passionate industry grow, so we interviewed three folks behind three new spots! Learn some new stories, and mark new spots on your travel map for this year.

 

How did you get started in brewing?

Tim @ New Tradition Brewing


Tim, New Tradition Brewing

I brewed beer for the first time for a science project as a kid (I don’t think they let kids do that now), but I am more of a beer lover than a beer creator. Pat, our brewmaster, has a long family history with brewing beer. Both his grandfather and his father brewed beer, and being from German heritage, took it very seriously. Pat’s been brewing for himself and friends for over 10 years. We teamed up almost 3 years ago and New Tradition Brewing is the result.

 

Dennis @ Ucluelet Brewing


Dennis, Ucluelet Brewing

Well for starters I’m not a brewer, so a more relevant question for me is “How did you get started in craft beer?” and for that it goes back decades to when I grew up in Calgary and was always unsettled with the “usual” beers. I don’t know if I knew what I was looking for, though a trip to the British Isles had whetted my whistle with some classic pours (ESBs being top among them). Then, just before I left Calgary Big Rock came on the scene and things started to get interesting. And they got really interesting shortly thereafter ’cause I moved to Eugene Oregon to do a Masters degree, and I found myself dropped into a booming though still nascent craft beer world. During the time I spent in the U.S. I travelled the west coast extensively from S.F. to Seattle and was never disappointed with the incredible selection and quality I encountered. Two years living in Portland really capped it off. When I moved back to BC the industry was taking off here, and that has nurtured my craft beer stoke quite nicely.

 

Jason @Land & Sea Brewing


Jason, Land & Sea Brewing

I am a fan of craft beer and my community. I had no experience with brewery operations, but I do have experience building teams. We have a fabulous brewer named Tessa, a terrific executive chef names Rob and Sterling leads and manages our awesome front of house team. My background is market research and strategy.


What should travellers be excited about? What will they experience?

Jason @ Land & Sea Brewing

Great beer, awesome food, friendly staff and local people to connect with. No TVs. We are a public house of sorts for the local community. Our room gets a lot of positive feedback too!

 

Dennis @ Ucluelet Brewing

They’ll be in Ucluelet and that’s worth getting excited about! There’s a ton to do in and around Ucluelet, and the Ucluelet Brewing Company will add a unique option for visitors. The building itself will draw people in, having been completely re-done into a showpiece smack in the centre of town. Once inside the interior renovations will be very enticing as well, including timber frame arches, original lighting and a special “beer portal” – which is what we call the hole in the floor we made to accommodate the height of the brewhouse. It will be right there for all to see, and at some points patrons may be sitting having a beer watching the Head Brewer hard at work making their new favourite beer! The goal is to create a comfortable “hang-out” space for locals and visitors, and there will be a deck on the north side of the building that allows great views out over the “lower” downtown and out to the inlet. Pretty spectacular. Food will be served as well, light fare that isn’t readily available elsewhere. At any given time there should be 5-6 of our beers on tap as well as a guest tap and a craft cider from the Island. Growler fills will be available as well as some high-quality merchandise to take away when people are finished their visit here. Perhaps Crowlers too – we’re looking into that but likely not when we open.

 

Tim @ New Tradition Brewing

Even I am excited about the space that is coming. We are going to be located right in the centre of Comox, about 100 yards from the Marina park. Since Pat is a thoroughbred craftsman, our tasting room is going to be unique with a custom built bar and a unique space. We’re designing it to be a space that everyone will want to hang out in. So, not only do we plan on having a great space, our goal is to have 8 delicious beers on tap, and serve a variety of simple food. We’ll have free wifi available and will also serve a variety of soft drinks. We’ll also be a family friendly location, as we feel that this is missing in Central Comox.


Inside Land & Sea Brewing


What are the trends you’re seeing in craft beer these days?

Dennis @ Ucluelet Brewing

I ended the last question with a comment that we were looking into “Crowlers” and I think that is one of the trends hitting the BC scene. Crowlers are cans (usually tall ones) that are filled and sealed right at the bar, providing for a more stable and long-lasting product than growler fills. Different purpose really, and I can see a market for them. I’m partial to growlers as they are re-usable though if one is taking a beer home to the interior or somewhere as a gift a Crowler would be better. I suspect most locals will stick with growlers but I understand I will have a significant tourist component to my patrons. In terms of trends in beer, it looks like the scene is going lighter – more lagers, pilsners, golden ales and such that really hit the “crushable” factor, particularly in summer. I tend toward a nice Belgian Wit for that purpose, and we’ll see what our Head Brewer wants to some up with – there are many options and I don’t think such “lighter” beers are just for summer. And of course, there are hazy/juicy/tropical IPAs as a trend that is still pretty solid, and who can argue with that? Delicious options there. And sours are still strong… all to say that craft beer patrons are constantly looking for new experiences, and that is a challenge for breweries to meet.

 

Tim @ New Tradition Brewing

We’re seeing craft head in many directions. It’s great seeing people starting to use new ingredients and experimenting with different styles of beer, maybe blurring the lines between styles at times, but still with the goal of producing something that tastes great. IPA’s will always be super hot in the craft beer world, as the hoppy tastes and aroma’s suit the craft scene more than the production brewery. We’re seeing a lot more sour beers and Gose’s coming out, increase hoppiness in some traditional styles, and definitely a lot more experimentation with gluten-free.

 

Jason @ Land & Sea Brewing

There seems to always be styles that gain popularity every year. However, current trends don’t inform our decision making very much. We are focused on our guests and community. To get our beer you have to visit our room or a local establishment with our beer on tap (coming soon).

Credit: BC Ale Trail


What’s your favourite beer?

Jason @ Land & Sea Brewing

Ohhhh that is a tough question. I like all beers and will try most anything! I think that is the fun part of craft beer, going to different places and trying different styles. Obviously, I am biased and love the beer Tessa brews.

 

Dennis @ Ucluelet Brewing

All time favourite type of beer is an India Pale Ale. There are so many great examples to go with, and the mighty IPA retains it’s place as the most popular craft beer in North America (and apparently in Ucluelet too, according to my sources at the local LCLB store). However, I like variety, and as I said the Belgian Wit-inspired beers (white IPAs or a classic Wit) are a close second. Nice and crisp. And I had a Brut IPA at Gladstone not long ago – wow!! How clean can it get??

 

Tim @ New Tradition Brewing

I would probably choose a dark lager. The one Pat makes is especially delicious.


Learn More

Start your trip planning to Vancouver Island. Learn about the Vancouver Island routes of the BC Ale Trail (Part 1 & Part 2), and check out other places to eat, drink, play and stay.

Follow these new Vancouver Island breweries:

Looking to follow along as they open or release new brews? Check out each of these featured breweries on Instagram using the links below:

📍 New Tradition Brewing, Comox | Coming Soon
@newtraditionbrewing

📍 Ucluelet Brewing, Ucluelet | Coming Soon
@ucluelet_brewing_co

📍 Land & Sea Brewing, Comox | Open
@landandseabeer


Explore the elements that Vancouver Island has to offer: