Guest writer Matt Wastradowski on the 6th annual Victoria Beer Week happening right now in B.C.
More than 200 craft beer fans filled the Victoria Public Market in British Columbia’s capital city on Friday, March 1, 2019, to kick off – or maybe that’s lift off – the sixth annual Victoria Beer Week. The Lift Off! event featured more than a dozen brand-new beers from breweries throughout British Columbia – including 11 breweries based on Vancouver Island. Some of the many highlights included a Brunswick Mum from Howl Brewing – sporting some of the same ingredients used to brew beer before Germany’s purity law took effect in 1516 – and a balanced brut IPA featuring spruce tips from Mount Arrowsmith Brewing.
The diversity on display at the Lift Off! event tapped into what makes Victoria’s beer scene so unique, says Victoria Beer Week producer Joe Wiebe. Victoria boasts some of the province’s most storied beer history – including Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, the oldest brewpub in Canada – alongside a mix of cutting-edge, up-and-comers like Twa Dogs Brewery, which brought a well-balanced hazy IPA to the festival.
Victoria Beer Week Breweries celebrate at their Lift Off event on March 1, 2019. Matt Wastradowski.
The festival gave attendees the chance to celebrate the ongoing craft beer boom on Vancouver Island, which was ushered in roughly six years ago after new laws allowed B.C. breweries to finally operate tasting rooms. Since then, a flurry of breweries have opened all over the province and, by extension, Vancouver Island; roughly 40 breweries operate throughout Vancouver Island today, with about 15 in the greater Victoria region and another handful in the works.
The Lift Off! event was the first of 21 events happening daily through March 9. The following night, the Victoria Public Market hosted another festival: All About the Wood – inspired by The Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer, Cider & Whiskey Festival, held every summer in Bend, Oregon. And capping off the weekend, Sunday’s Jones Beer-B-Que event paired hand-selected B.C. beer with plates of chicken, pulled pork, and more from Jones Bar-B-Que.
Wiebe’s view of the diverse beer scene on Vancouver Island extends to the wide variety of curated VBW events: Upcoming events include a class on making beer cocktails at LURE Restaurant and Bar, just across the harbour from downtown Victoria, a brewmaster’s brunch at Spinnakers, and Saturday Night Casks, which boasts 25 cask-conditioned ales from B.C. breweries.
Get a full rundown of Victoria Beer Week events at https://victoriabeerweek.com.
Matt Wastradowski is a beer and travel writer in the Pacific Northwest. You can follow his adventures as @wastro on Twitter and Instagram.