Take the Traveller Quiz Super, Natural British Columbia

Vancouver Island is home to more than 40 craft breweries spread all throughout the lower half of the Island. From Victoria at the southern tip, where the whole microbrewing movement got its start when Spinnakers Brewpub opened in 1984, to Campbell River up north, and across to Tofino on the west coast, there is a diverse range of breweries sprinkled all over the Island, all producing artisanal beers and often using local ingredients. Some are ultra-local, designed to serve their own communities or neighbourhoods, which means you have to visit them in person if you want to taste their beers, while others have expanded to distribute throughout BC and even beyond its borders so you’ll see their beer on tap at bars and restaurants wherever you go.

No matter what your taste preferences are, you will definitely find some new favourites here.

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 beautifully rugged and 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.

Enjoy Inside Or Take It To-Go

But back to the beer, which is the real reason for this guide. Many of the breweries listed here have tasting rooms where you can sample their brews and perhaps enjoy a snack or even a full meal. Some are brewpubs with full restaurants offering extensive menu options. Many are family-friendly places where you can bring the kids along. At each brewery, you will also be able to purchase bottles or cans to take away with you or fill a growler to take back to your campsite, RV, motel or cabin.

Arrive Thirsty, Leave Inspired. Let the BC Ale Trail be your guide.

For more information, visit the BC Ale Trail website, which offers in-depth itineraries and detailed information about every brewery on the Island. Or download the BC Ale Trail app, which you can use to collect points each time you visit a brewery, and then redeem for a special prize at participating locations. It will also help you find local liquor stores that offer good craft beer selections.

Part 1

South Island

Greater Victoria

The “cradle of the revolution” is home to 16 breweries and brewpubs in total, including 11 that are within easy walking or cycling distance of each other around the downtown Inner Harbour. The city is home to Canada’s original brewpub, Spinnakers, which opened in 1984, as well as BC’s most successful craft brewery, Phillips Brewing & Distilling, and some of the province’s newest and freshest operations, such as Île Sauvage Brewing and Whistle Buoy Brewing.

Canoe Brewpub
This brewpub operates out of a gorgeous heritage building dating back to 1894. Its beautiful interior, excellent kitchen and sun-drenched, waterfront patio are all good reasons to visit, and the beer will keep you coming back.

Category 12 Brewing
Located on the Saanich Peninsula just off the highway on the way to the ferry and the airport, Category 12 Brewing offers a tasting room with an on-site kitchen. Its beers run the spectrum from standards to barrel-aged specialties—all excellent. 

Driftwood Brewery
Famous for its flagship Fat Tug IPA, Driftwood also brews a range of other top-notch beers, including barrel-aged sours and a potent barley wine and imperial stout. Though its storefront is not a full tasting room, you will be able to find Driftwood’s beers on tap nearly everywhere.

Four Mile Brewpub
Built in 1858, the Four Mile was a roadhouse for stagecoaches and later automobiles, then a cabaret with a notorious brothel upstairs. Renovated and re-opened with gorgeous decor in 1979, the brewery was added in 2014.

Howl Brewing
A tiny brewery tucked away next to the Fickle Fig Market just north of the Victoria International Airport, Howl specializes in ancient beer styles long forgotten, as well as a range of contemporary standards.  

Hoyne Brewing
Sean Hoyne started brewing beer professionally in 1989, first at Swans and then at the Canoe Brewpub. He opened his own brewery in 2011 and has only reinforced his legacy as one of Victoria’s top brewers.

Île Sauvage Brewing
Named Rookie Brewery of the Year at the 2019 BC Beer Awards, Île Sauvage is a lot of attention for its fantastic beers. Stop by its beautiful tasting room to sample from a beer list focused on sour beers, hazy IPAs and barrel-aged saisons.

Lighthouse Brewing
Lighthouse’s beers and marketing have always reflected a nautical theme inspired by its location in Esquimalt, home to Canada’s Pacific Coast naval base. Its tasting room and outdoor picnic area make it an attractive destination.

Moon Under Water Brewery, Pub & Distillery
This popular local brewpub has a solid beer list and a great food menu with lots of events such as music bingo that keep the pub packed. It recently added a distillery tasting room next door.

Phillips Brewing & Malting
One of Canada’s most successful craft breweries, Phillips began as a one-man operation two decades ago. Its tasting room is a great place to sample its beers and the brewery also hosts regular events in its backyard throughout the warmer months.

Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub
Canada’s original brewpub dating back to 1984, Spinnakers’ location on the Inner Harbour offers gorgeous views to go along with delicious beers and an excellent kitchen that works closely with local farms and food providers. It even has guesthouses, making it the perfect home base for exploring Victoria’s beer scene.

Swans Brewery, Pub & Hotel
Once an “ugly duckling” of a building that was renovated into a gorgeous swan, this brewpub dating back to 1989 has a great pub with 48 beers on tap, 20 of which are brewed on-site. The hotel upstairs is a great option for staying right downtown.

Vancouver Island Brewery
Dating back to 1984, VIB has been a strong presence in Victoria’s beer scene ever since. Its downtown brewery has a tasting room with tours available on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Victoria Caledonian Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewing
You’ll feel like you’re visiting Scotland when you stop by the welcoming tasting room at this single malt whiskey distillery and brewery. Be sure to take the entertaining and educational tour.

V2V Black Hops Brewing
This veteran-run brewery is based in the original Axe & Barrel Brewhouse with a mandate to support military and first responder veterans PTSD programs.

Whistle Buoy Brewing
Victoria’s newest brewery based in historic Market Square, Whistle Buoy is named for a diving location where its three founders first decided to open their own brewery. It has a cozy tasting room inside and a sun-drenched patio that can’t be beat in the warmer months.

The small town of Sooke, about 45 minutes west of Victoria, is home to three breweries of its own, along with a meadery and distillery, making it the ideal spot for a day trip or overnight excursion. It is also a great destination for adventurous cyclists thanks to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, a decommissioned railway line that was converted into a bike and walking trail that runs all the way from Victoria (approx. 55km). 

Sooke

Bad Dog Brewing
Bad Dog Brewing is a charming brewery located in a rural setting with a tasting room and a picnic area outside. Cyclists note that it is at the top of a long climb from “downtown” Sooke, but then again, that means you get to enjoy a long glide back down afterwards! 

Sooke Brewing
Sooke’s “downtown” brewery is in a purpose-built building that has a big tasting room and patio. Enjoy a range of delicious beers along with a plate of charcuterie from the butcher next door.

Sooke Oceanside Brewery
The tasting room at Sooke Oceanside Brewery, which is located next to a gas station on the highway into town, is a great spot to meet locals and taste delicious beers with names inspired by local maritime history and forestry industry. 

Southern Gulf Islands

The Southern Gulf Islands are a chain of smaller islands nestled next to Vancouver Island in the Salish Sea. Perfect for those looking to enjoy quieter getaways, the islands are peppered with cabins, and act as home bases for artisan potters and other artists, as well as small-scale farmers. Two of the islands also boast their own craft breweries, adding to the appeal for a self-guided Island Hopping tour.

Mayne Island Brewing
Weekends spent home brewing and dreaming of more finally resulted in this small-scale brewery that opened in 2016. Visitors should plan ahead since this brewery is only open on Fridays and Saturdays

Salt Spring Island Ales
Based in a converted barn at the base of Mount Bruce, this brewery uses water from a spring on the mountainside above and harvests hops and other ingredients grown on the island. 


Must Stop Spots

Part 2

Cowichan

Heading north up the Island Highway from Victoria, the spectacular vistas of the Malahat Summit give way to the rural agricultural splendour of the Cowichan Valley, which boasts a maritime Mediterranean climate that achieves the warmest year-round temperature anywhere in Canada. Farm markets, wineries and cideries abound — and so do breweries. Duncan has three breweries to visit and nearby Chemainus is home to one of its own.

Craig Street Brewpub
Check out Duncan’s cozy and quaint downtown for some shopping or sight-seeing, and then pop into the Craig Street Brewpub for a meal and a beer. This attractive, multi-level building dating back to the 1940s has lots of different options for dining, whether it’s the downstairs pub with its beautiful, antique bar, the streetside patio, or the rooftop deck upstairs.

Red Arrow Brewing
Make a pit stop at this Duncan brewery located in a converted custom motorcycle shop, a beautiful brick-and-ivy clad building within sight of the highway. It has an attractive and welcoming tasting room and a licenced self-serve picnic area outside with a tall totem pole and a gargoyle named Christopher watching from his perch on the edge of the roof.

Riot Brewing
Celebrate the riot that is life at this beautiful, custom-built Chemainus brewery. It’s a friendly and welcoming spot. Drop by for a taste in the tap room or on the sun-drenched patio out front where you might be able to join in on a jam with local musicians. 

Small Block Brewing
This brewery celebrates classic car culture alongside “precision made” craft beer. The owners’ fascination with 1950s/60s hot rods is reflected in the decor of the welcoming tasting room, as well as in many of the names of the beer they serve.


Must Stop Spots

Part 3

Central Island

Nanaimo

The port city of Nanaimo is the second largest urban centre on the Island, acting as a hub for the mid-Island region with ferries to the Mainland, the Vancouver Island University campus, and a lively arts and culture scene. Five local breweries provide a diverse and delicious opportunity for a tasting tour.

Cliffside Brewing
Nanaimo’s newest brewery has a warm tasting room a fresh, young energy. Its location right next to White Sails Brewing makes for a perfect tasting tour by foot, especially for visitors staying downtown.

Longwood Brewery
An off-shoot of the Longwood Brewpub, this production brewery partners with local farmers to grow and malt quality barley and hops, resulting in an obsessively local product that reflects the true terroir of Vancouver Island. In fact, 50% of of the barley Longwood uses comes from central Vancouver Island and the majority of hops are grown within 20 km of the brewery!

Longwood Brewpub
The Longwood Brewpub has anchored the Longwood Station plaza in the north end of Nanaimo since 1999. It has a family-friendly restaurant upstairs and a pub downstairs, with a big fieldstone fireplace to warm a body up on a cold, wet Vancouver Island winter day. 

White Sails Brewing
Named for the sailboats that dot Nanaimo’s harbour, White Sails has a big, welcoming tasting room reminiscent of a German beer hall, with a warm glass-enclosed gas fireplace at its heart. 

Wolf Brewing
Originally founded as Fat Cat Brewing in 2000, this brewery located on the south side of Nanaimo changed its name to Wolf in 2010. The new owners also expanded and revitalized the brewery with a snazzy new on-site tasting room. 

 

Parksville Qualicum Beach

The sheltered stretch of coastline north of Nanaimo is home to some of the province’s most spectacular beaches, including Parksville’s Rathtrevor Beach where the tide goes out almost a kilometre (half a mile), revealing clean sand and fascinating tidal pools that teem with marine life. Or head west across the Island through Cathedral Grove to Port Alberni, and then on to Ucluelet and Tofino on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island.

LoveShack Libations
This small Qualicum Beach brewery is a labour of love for its charismatic founder who brews part-time and serves samples at the brewery two days a week. Be prepared to be entertained when you pop in for a sample flight.

Mount Arrowsmith Brewing
Named Brewery of the Year at the 2017 BC Beer Awards, this stylish spot is the perfect accompaniment to Parksville’s beaches and resorts. Its tasting room kitchen is a great spot for lunch or dinner as well.


Must Stop Spots

Part 4

Pacific Rim

Port Alberni

Dog Mountain Brewing
Port Alberni’s newest brewery has a small tasting room with a solid beer line-up and a kitchen serving grilled sandwiches, along with a big rooftop patio with a gorgeous view

Twin City Brewing
Since opening in 2017, Twin City has earned a great reputation for its creative beer line-up and fantastic food, including pizzas made to order and a tasty selection of smoked meat sandwiches (yes, the meats are smoked on site).

 

Tofino

Tofino Brewing
No visit to Vancouver Island is truly complete without a visit to Tofino: the beaches, the surfing, the spectacular landscapes, and don’t forget the beer! Tofino Brewing has been brewing locally for nearly 10 years.

 

Ucluelet

Ucluelet Brewing
This brewery was anticipated with great excitement for a couple of years before it finally opened early in 2020. Based in an old church, it is quickly making a name for itself as a great spot to visit.


Must Stop Spots

Part 5

North Central Island

This central Vancouver Island region has it all: farms and farmer’s markets; wilderness hiking, camping and climbing; fantastic skiing and mountain biking; urban shopping and dining in Courtenay and Comox; history aplenty in Cumberland; and of course, delicious craft beer! 

 

Cumberland

Cumberland Brewing
The small town of Cumberland is known for its coal mining history and its present-day status as a mecca for mountain bikers. Cumberland Brewing is an ultra-local spot that only sells its beer on site. Have a seat on the covered patio or order a pizza and a pint at Rider’s Pizza across the street. 

 

Courtenay

Ace Brewing
The newest microbrewery to open in Courtenay celebrates the history of the Canadian Air Force in the Comox Valley through a vintage aviation theme reflected in the tasting room decor. There is lots of space to socialize and 10 taps to choose from, as well as a Canteen kitchen that offers some tasty bites to go along with the beer.

Gladstone Brewing
Based in a one-time car mechanic’s shop, Gladstone Brewing embraces that heritage with a tasting room that is decorated with automobile memorabilia. The brewery’s popular Burger Bar will keep your hunger pangs away as you sip and socialize on the patio, which is always busy with friendly locals ready to enjoy a conversation.

 

Comox

Land & Sea Brewing
With a name that celebrates the elements that define life on Vancouver Island — the land and the sea — this brewery has established itself as a community gathering place. Its bright and welcoming tasting room showcases the brewing equipment front and centre, and the on-site kitchen offers great food to go along with the delicious beer..

New Tradition Brewing
Taste creative, passionate, and boisterous interpretations of classic styles at this comfortable, sustainable space in the heart of Comox. The brewery’s name says it all: respecting the traditions of brewing without being afraid to experiment and take risks. Expect a solid range of classic beer styles mixed with some less traditional fresh takes.

 

Campbell River

Beach Fire Brewing

The Island’s northernmost brewery, at least so far, has a comfortable and stylish tasting room designed around sharing with communal harvest tables. Both the food and the beer are made in-house from scratch, incorporating local ingredients wherever possible.


Must Stop Spots

Mayne Island Brewing

490 Fernhill Rd, Mayne Island, BC V0N 2J2

Salt Spring Island Ales

270 Furness Rd, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 1Z7

Howl Brewing

1780 Mills Rd, North Saanich, BC V8L 5S9

Category 12 Brewing

2200 Keating Cross Rd C, Saanichton, BC V8M 2A6

Canoe Brewpub

450 Swift St, Victoria, BC V8W 1S3

Île Sauvage Brewing

2960 Bridge St, Victoria, BC V8T 4T3

Driftwood Brewery

102-450 Hillside Ave, Victoria, BC V8T 1Y7

Hoyne Brewing

101-2740 Bridge St, Victoria, BC V8T 5C5

Lighthouse Brewing

836 Devonshire Rd, Victoria, BC V9A 4T4

Four Mile Brewpub

199 Island Hwy, Victoria, BC V9B 1G1

Bad Dog Brewing

7861 Tugwell Rd, Sooke, BC V9Z 0J7

Sooke Brewing

2057 Otter Point Rd, Sooke, BC V9Z 1H7

Sooke Oceanside Brewery

5529 B Sooke Rd, Sooke, BC V9Z 0C7

Red Arrow Brewing

5255 Chaster Rd, Duncan, BC V9L 5J2

Small Block Brewing

203-5301 Chaster Rd, Duncan, BC V9L 6W4

Craig Street Brewpub

25 Craig St, Duncan, BC V9L 1V7

Riot Brewing

101A, 3055 Oak St, Chemainus, BC V0R 1K1

Wolf Brewing

940 Old Victoria Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9R 6Z8

Cliffside Brewing

11 Cliff St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5E6

White Sails Brewing

125 Comox Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9R 3H9

Longwood Brewery

2046 Boxwood Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9S 5W7

Longwood Brew Pub

5775 Turner Rd, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6L8

Love Shack Libations

4134 Island Hwy W #1, Qualicum Beach, BC V9K 2B2

Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Co

425 Stanford Ave E #109, Parksville, BC V9P 1V9

Dog Mountain Brewing

3141 3rd Ave, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 4C7

Twin City Brewing

4503 Margaret St, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 6G8

Tofino Brewing

691 Industrial Way, Tofino, BC V0R 2Z0

Ucluelet Brewing Company

1601 Peninsula Rd, Ucluelet, BC V0R 3A0

Cumberland Brewing

2732 Dunsmuir Ave, Cumberland, BC V0R 1S0

Ace Brewing

150 Mansfield Dr, Courtenay, BC V9N 6C5

Gladstone Brewing

244 4th St, Courtenay, BC V9N 1G6

Land & Sea Brewing

2040 Guthrie Rd, Comox, BC V9M 3P6

New Tradition Brewing

215 Port Augusta St Unit 11, Comox, BC V9M 3M9

Beach Fire Brewing

594 11 Ave, Campbell River, BC V9W 4G4