May/June Newsletter

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May/June Newsletter

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CAMRA BC – Victoria Branch View this email in your browser (
CAMRA BC – Victoria Branch Join us in Support of Craft Beer
May/June 2017 Monthly Newsletter
** In this Issue:
– CAMRA Victoria Tours Alaska Breweries and Port Moody’s Brewery Row – May CAMRA Victoria Members Event reviews – Vancouver Island Beer News – Upcoming CAMRA Victoria Events – Members Events – May/June Vancouver Island Beer Events – Everyone Welcome
If you would like to join our ranks, we’d love to have you. Individual memberships are only $25/year and joint/family memberships are $40/year. ———————————————————— CAMRA Member Events: June 11th – Eagles Club feat. Glen Moffard. See below article for more info.
June 27th – ‘Bring a New Member Night’ in the Penthouse at Swan’s Brewpub
CAMRA Victoria communicates on the Alaskan Panhandle, plus a jaunt over to Port Moody’s Brewery Row
By: Sean Clark, Communications Director, CAMRA Victoria
The Alaskan Panhandle, a remote portion of the US’s northern most state, is an area frequented by many a cruise ship passenger. From April until September, hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life descend on the cities and towns of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, among others, to take in the sights of this beautiful region. And from April 30th until May 8th, myself and your membership director Cayla were two of those hundreds of thousands that had the privilege to explore here.
Starting our journey in Vancouver the night before our ship left, I decided to hop on the SeaBus to North Vancouver and check our Green Leaf Brewing Company. With their location right next to the SeaBus terminal at Lonsdale Quay, it made for a perfect start.
My tasting flight at Green Leaf Brewing
I was very pleased with their tap list, which covered all the bases from lagers, to ales, stouts, sours and even a couple barrel aged beers. I setteled on their flagship IPA, stout, their Burning Rock Ale, (where they put hot granite rock into the boil to caramelize some of the sugars,) and their brett aged IPA. The Brett IPA, aged in merlot barrels, was that perfect marriage of the hoppy with the funk of the brettoanomyces. Their stout was also very good and their flagship Bitter Leaf IPA, which I’ve had before, is a solid and enjoyable west coast IPA.
The following day we boarded our cruise ship, the Carnival Legend for our 8 day journey to Alaska ending in Seattle. For anyone reading this that’s cruised before, you may recall that at one time the selection of beers on board the different cruise lines and ships was not very good. Usually all you had available was your macros like Budweiser, Coors, Heineken, and so on. However, there’s been a conscious effort in the cruise industry to improve their selections over the last few years, and Carnival is no exception.
They were the first cruise line in the industry to have an on board brewery, named the Redfrog Brewery, located on their current flagship the Carnival Vista. They brew a few different styles exclusively for that ship, but their flagship, the aptly named Thirstyfrog Red, is available fleetwide. It’s a malty and hoppy red ale that’s served in a 20oz pour in both their Redfrog Pub and a few of the pool deck bars, and is a nice refreshing beer to cut through some of the hot days you’d expect on a cruise. And a fun contest that Carnival does on their ships….. if you’re the first one to arrive at their Redfrog Pub when you board, you get your picture taken and a free pint. That’s my free pint in the above picture.
Also available on board, as you can tell from the other above and below photos, is Sam Adams beers and Angel City IPA from the Los Angeles brewery. They also serve beers from Concrete Beach Brewery, Saltwater Brewery, Sierra Nevada Brewery, and for the Alaskan cruise season, Alaskan Brewing Company beers (not pictured on the menu as these are fleetwise ones.) A far cry from what I used to see a few years ago.
Our first stop on the cruise was Juneau, the capital city of Alaska and home to a famous craft brewery, (more on that in a moment.) A couple breweries that had been in the process of opening the weeks before our arrival hadn’t yet, but we did visit a very small and relatively new one as our first. Barnaby Brewing Company had only been in business for 8 days before we arrived, and we almost couldn’t find it due to it’s slightly hidden location at the bottom of some stairs in a low rise complex downtown. Walking inside I was taken aback as to how small their production is, as their nano-brewery setup is even smaller than one I saw in Calgary last year.
The owner/brewery Matt Barnaby was a friendly and gracious host, made even better by the fact we were the only two visitors at the time. When we told him that were visiting from Victoria, he had mentioned how Clay Potter from Moon Under Water had been by recently while in Juneau. That was a nice surprise to hear. We got to try pretty much all the beers he currently had on tap, including a ‘secret sampling’ of a soon-to-be-launched beer.
Particular standouts were the North East Pale Ale, the Irish Red, the Stout and the ‘secret sample’ of their new beer, the Russian Imperial Stout with smoke and peanut butter. It actually tasted like drinking a candy bar. Delicious! At the time of visit they were only able to sell growlers on Saturday’s after 4pm and couldn’t sell more than 36oz per person at one time due to state law, but I understand those may be changing. Anyway, well worth a visit. Just make sure to look for the sandwich board sign!
Our final stop in Juneau was, you guessed it, Alaskan Brewing Company. We first stopped at the depot store located downtown to wait for the shuttle that would take us to the brewery, located about 30 minutes from the city center. While no beer is served on site or sold to take home at the store, they do have a large collection of branded merchandise including shirts, hats, glasses and the usual others. The shuttle arrived and took us to the brewery.
Our brewery guide walked us through the history of their company while we sampled 3 of their flagship beers in their tasting room, including their Amber Ale, IPA and White IPA. As the Amber Ale is their most well known and widely available beer it was good as usual, but their Freeride IPA was especially noteworthy. A wonderful PNW IPA that i’d love to see make its way here one day. We spent roughly 45 minutes in the tasting room with our guide before we then moved into the main retail and growler filling room for an additional 4 tastings for 7 total.
Their smoked porter was wonderful, a beer they pretty much helped put on the map. Then I had the barrel aged smoked porter and was immediately in heaven at the complex flavors and smells. My goodness this was a great beer, and I wish I could have brought some back. Hopthermia was an excellent beer as well, and the ImPEARial IPA was unique and very tasty. All in all a wonderful place to spend a few hours trying excellent beers and chatting with friendly people made for a great time!
Our last beer-focused stop on this cruise was at Skagway Brewing Company, which is the only brewery in operation. They are located at the far end of town, which can be a bit of a walk for those visiting on a cruise ship. However they do have a transit shuttle service that runs a loop and helps to cut down the time to get there.
(I should mention that the first two pictures below are not from Skagway Brewing. They’re actually from the Red Onion Saloon, which was a former brothel during gold rush times that now operates are a bar that offers tours of the facility, complete with ‘authentic’ guides. Here I tried a stout from Haines Brewing Company which is located across the channel from Skagway and is also a cruise ship port for some cruise lines.)
I tried a flight of four beers, basically everything they had available at the time. Their IPA, Brown Ale, Porter and the flagship Spruce Tip Ale, (they were out of the pale ale unfortunately.) All were solid, with their spruce tip ale being especially nice, (it is the beer that put them on the map.) Clean, a little spicy with a good creaminess. I even bought a bottle to bring home and enjoy, (which I did!) As you can expect being the only brewery in town, it was a little busy with a cruise ship in town. I can only imagine what it’s like later in the summer when there’s 3 ships in town!
Had a solid time at Skagway Brewery, and hopefully the town has another brewery come along soon. Our last stop on the cruise was in Ketchikan, but sadly they don’t have any breweries at this time. Maybe down the road, next time I go on an Alaskan cruise, there’ll be one.
The weekend after coming back from the cruise I was back in Vancouver again, this time for the U2 concert. The next day I decided to hop on the Evergreen Line Skytrain extension to Port Moody and tour Brewery Row. Having never been there before I was excited for what lay ahead with four breweries on the same street all within minutes of each other.
First stop was Yellow Dog Brewery, where I had a flight consisting of their Bourbon Belgian Ale, Golden Ale, IPA and Porter. I’ve had the IPA and Golden Ale before, and they were as good as usual. The Porter was especially enjoyable, as was the Belgian Ale that had a nice sessionable hoppiness balanced with the bourbon aged notes.
Next was Twin Sails Brewery, which I was very much looking forward to as they’re known for their different styles and takes on IPA’s. I had a flight of the Pale Ale, IPA, Double IPA and what I believe was an East Coast style IPA called Bread Winner. I regret not bringing home a 4 pack of the Bread Winner because it was really that good. Cloudy and juicy hops, but balanced bitterness. Really, all of their beers were awesome!
Third stop was Parkside Brewery, which had one of the most inviting tasting rooms I’ve seen so far in a BC craft brewery. It really has the feel of one you’d find in either Seattle or Portland, which we’ve yet to really embrace here in Victoria, (hopefully some of the newer ones on the way can change that!) I had tasters of their Pilsner, Pale Ale, IPA and the Witbier. All very good I might add, especially the Pilsner. And I really liked the tray they came on, which is shaped like a park bench. Very inventive.
The last and final stop was Moody Ales, which had a massive tap list the day I visited. It was almost overwhelming with the different styles available, which made it a little tough to choose. For my flight I finally settled on the cask conditioned Bitter, the Matcha Saison, the Caribbean Stout and the Russian Imperial Stout. On my goodness the Imperial Stout, that was incredible! I could have had more of it. The wonderful smooth smokiness, the flavors of chocolate and raisins was heaven. The cask Bitter was also very nice, as was the Caribbean stout.. What am I saying, they were all good.
So in closing had a very enjoyable day. All four breweries were easy to get to, both by the Skytrain and walking to each one. Plus, all of the beer I had was wonderful and the breweries themselves were fun and inviting. While I didn’t bring back any beer with me, I did get a souvinier glass at both Parkside and Moody Ales, (Yellow Dog and Twin Sails didn’t have branded tasting glasses.) Lots of fun, and I can’t wait to do another Vancouver brewery day down the road. Wrap-Up Review on May’s CAMRA Victoria ‘Members Only’ event: Tasting Night at Vancouver Island Brewing May 23, 2017
Roughly 30 of CAMRA Victoria’s faithful attended our May gathering at Vancouver Island Brewing, our first group visit in the newly renovated facility since we were there last fall before the changes began. Due to staffing changes and safety concerns we were unable to physically tour the brewery, so we congregated in the retail and tasting room for the duration of our visit.
We were joined by VIB’s business development director Dave Pearson, in addition to brewer Graham Cooke, who led us through their beer lineup and the reasons behind their renos and re branding. As they put it, their hope was to become a brewery that would appeal to those who are still on the fence with craft beer and are looking to leave the big beer macro’s behind. So to do that, they reformulated some existing recipes and created new ones that would be approachable without being outrageous, and sessionable without compromising on taste and quality.
SeaDog became Carmanah Ale and Hermann’s became Dominion, (formerly 48,) Dark Lager, while Piper’s stayed, albeit with a slightly tweaked recipe. Also kept around was 19 IPA, however lowered in ABV from it’s previous 6.5% to a more managable 4.8% In fact, all of their core beers save for one have their ABV’s at 4.8%, a move which at first puzzled and confused people but makes business sense for their long term planning. And new to their lineup include Juan De Fuca Cerveza and Sombrio Citrus Session, the last one being the beer that is brewed at a lower 4% ABV. Finally Victoria Lager replaced Islander Lager on the menu, but the two are completely different interpretations of the style. And as a fun bit of info, the names and co-ordinates on each of the beers correspond to locations throughout Vancouver Island.
The reasoning for the 4.8% ABV on the bulk of their beers, outside of paying homage to the 48th Parallel, is to allow the comsumer the ability to enjoy their beers more frequently without the worry of getting too drunk with higher ABV brews. Whereas most craft beers available today push the limits with their 6, 7, 8% and higher beers, which while good to great in their own right, sometimes hinder your ability to truly enjoy the style your drinking simply because of that. In fact, VIB is currently launching a seasonal beer which is a roughly 6.5% ABV, but it will be the only one at this time. The beer in question is a Peach IPA, which was on tap in the tasting room while we visited but currently doesn’t have an official name.
I’ll admit that, when I first tried VIB’s rebranded beers a couple months ago at the Island Beer Festival, I was disappointed. I had the ‘new’ Piper’s, Carmanah and the ‘former Hermann’s,’ and they all tasted roughly the same and none too exciting. Bland, with strange off flavors that really brought the tasting experience down. Piper’s especially was a troubling one, as I couldn’t understand how a beer as famous and successful as it was needed to be changed. That beer was right up there with Blue Buck as one of the first craft beers I ever had, and probably the same with almost everyone else. It never needed changing
Well, fast forward a couple months later and my views were thankfully restored. Piper’s does taste different, yes, but has a wonderful maltiness that instantly made me excited for more. Dominion Dark Lager now has a wonderful roasted chocolate taste that compares well to Dark Matter and similar beers. 19 IPA tastes like a well rounded IPA should, not too bitter and very clean with a balanced hop profile that fits nicely with the lower ABV. And their brand new Victoria Lager is a wonderful summertime beer to cut through the hot weather we’re getting lately, and one of the few craft lagers being brewed today. Even their pilot brew peach IPA, while still in it’s infancy, could be another great contender for a hot weather beer!
So in closing, it was a very enjoyable evening at the brewery. While some of their changes still may take some time to get used to, I think in the long run it’ll pay off for one of the oldest craft breweries in BC. Sometimes change is good, and and I believe them…..
…..just as long as Hermannator isn’t changed TOO much when it returns this fall!
Vancouver Island Beer News
Canadian Brewing Awards Wrap-up:
This past weekend was the 15th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards & Conference in Ottawa Ontario. A number of BC breweries won awards in the various categories, including some from Vancouver Island. The Island award winners included:
– Kellerbier/Zwickelbier Gold: Moon Under Water Brewery, POTTS PILS Silver: Riot Brewing Co., Good Vibrations Classical Pilsner
– German Style Kölsch Silver: Axe & Barrel Brewery, King Kolsch
– Belgian Style Abbey Ale/Pale Ale Bronze: Gladstone Brewing Co., Gladstone Single
– American Belgo-Style Ale Silver: Phillips Brewing & Malting Co, Electric Unicorn White IPA
A huge congratulations to all the winners of the 15th annual awards event!
Volunteer Signup Now Open for GCBF:
The 25th annual Great Canadian Beer Festival is happening on September 8th and 9th, and the volunteer signup page is now open. Head over to and go to the volunteer page. Spots available include: beer & ice, door hosts, clean-up and booth stewards (SIR/SES needed for this position.) Volunteers are the backbone of running the festival, and as a thank you all volunteers receive: free entry to the festival on the day in which you’re not volunteering, a t-shirt, and free entry to the wrap-up party after the GCBF ends Saturday night.
Brewery & The Beast news:
Tickets went on sale yesterday, (May 29th,) and sold out almost immediately. However, it’s most likely that they’ll need volunteers to help run the event smoothly. Stay tuned to the CAMRA Victoria Facebook page and the newsletter/emails as soon as info becomes available about volunteer signup.
Local Business Info:
With Spring in full swing and Summer on the way, more people are going out and enjoying the weather with various activities. While Victoria and Vancouver Island has an abundance of great attractions, for those with a love for craft beer, these ones stand above the rest: (Note: None of these businesses have paid for this mention in the newsletter. We’re simply including them here becasue we are big fans of there’s. Thank you.)
– West Coast Brewery Tours: They’ve been in business for a couple years now, and do a great job of showcasing the local craft beer scene in Victoria and the lower island. The owner, Elton, is a fantastic guy with a genuine love for what he does, and his knowledge and passion shows. If you’ve never taken a guided beer tour before, then this is the one to do. They do anything from brewery tours, distillery tours, cider tours, or a mix of any of them. If you’re interested, the check out
– The Rolling Barrel: If you’re looking for a different type of beer/brewery tour, The Rolling Barrel may be for you. Unlike West Coast Brewery Tours above which is done in a climate-controlled van, The Rolling Barrel is outdoors on a pedal powered bike that can seat up to 15 people plus the driver. They generally stay within the confines of downtown Victoria, stopping at various and iconic pubs along the way within a 2 hour period. You can book a private tour with friends, or just yourself and meet new friends along the way. Either way you’re bound to have a great time. Check out for more info.
– Off The Eaten Track Walking Tours: If riding in a van or pedaling a large bike isn’t your thing, then maybe a walking tour is up your alley. If so, Off The Eaten Track maybe for you. They do a craft beer and food tour that takes you to four stops in downtown Victoria, where you are served various beer and food samples while your guide gives you some insight into the history of the city and the locations you’re visiting. If this sounds like your kind of thing, go check out for more info.
– Black Ball Ferry: Finally, if you have a passport and really want to check out something different, in the US no less, the a ride on the iconic Coho ferry just may be the thing to do. They’ve developed a few packages in Port Angeles that are right up the craft beer alley, including a Hops & History tour that takes you to 3 stops, one of which is Barhop Brewing directly across the street from the ferry terminal. Also, when the Far West Beer Fest in Sequim happens during the summer, (this year it occurs August 12th,) they’ve developed an incredible package that includes your return ferry, return coach bus to the festival, entry to the festival and usually a few other goodies. Go to for all the info about these and any other packages.
Upcoming camra victoria events – member events:
June Members Events:
Join us at the Eagles Club on June 11th at 7pm for our monthly members meeting. We’ll be joined by author and historian Glen Mofford as he shares stories from his books about the early days of saloons and bars here in Victoria and elsewhere on the island. Also, we’re arranging to hopefully have on tap a keg of Lighthouse Brewery’s brand new ‘150 Heritage Ale,’ brewed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Canada. We hope to see you there.
Also on June 27th at 7pm we’ll be having our ‘Bring a New Member Night,’ in the penthouse at Swan’s Brewpub. There will be appetizers served, however we do recommend you plan to have dinner beforehand as the food usually goes pretty quickly. Also we are asking that members contribute a small donation towards the beer served to help offset the cost to purchase it, as this is usually one of the most expensive events we run each year.
As with all of our events, they are ‘members only.’ However, you are welcome to bring a potential new member as a guest if you wish. And of course, please arrange for a safe ride to and from the events. Upcoming Vancouver Island Beer Events – Everyone Welcome Tofino Food & Wine Festival – (June 2nd-4th):
On the rugged Vancouver Island west coast town of Tofino is the 15th edition of this festival which showcases the wonderful bounty of food and drink that the island has to offer. Expect 21 different breweries from all over, plus a large collection of chefs, restaurants and wineries from all over during this three day extravaganza of various events. Check out for more info.
Hopoxia – (June 10th): This year’s event is expected to be the biggest yet, with upwards of 45+ breweries from all over BC bringing a selection of hop-forward beers to entice the masses right in Phillips Brewery’s backyard. As per usual, don’t expect too many of the breweries mainstays to be served here, as this is always a chance for the brewmasters to experiment with different types of hops in any way possible.
Tickets for the event, as in past years, is still $20 and includes your tasting glass and first two tokens. Addtional tokens are available for $2. The event runs from 3pm-7pm.
YYJ Eats – (June 13th):
St. Ann’s Academy transforms into a food and beverage fan’s dream when local establishments bring their finest for 2 hours of sampling. Expect most if not all of the region’s best breweries, plus restaurants and wineries in attendance. Tickets are still available for this event, which runs from 5pm-7pm and costs $50 and includes 10 tasting tickets with additional ones available for $1. For ticket info, check out
Car Free YYJ – (June 18th):
Douglas Street in Downtown Victoria will be once again closed to traffic from 11am-6pm, and transformed into a street festival featuring music, food vendors and licensed areas to enjoy. Check out for more info on this free family event.
Fernwood Bites – (June 18th):
Fernwood Square will feature over 30 restaurants, breweries, distilleries, cideries and wineries for you to sample. Tickets cost $65 and are all inclusive of food and drink, so no tasting tokens needed! The event runs from 5:30pm-8pm, and tickets can be found at
For all other events happening around the city and elsewhere, check out the CAMRA Victoria Facebook page or the website which will link you to the calendar where all the info can be found.
Until then, Cheers!
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