With all of the attention lavished on Portland and Seattle, it's easy to forget that the Pacific Northwest has a third craft beer capital: Victoria. Just across the Puget Sound on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, this scenic city has quietly yet steadily added craft breweries and brewpubs, businesses that have earned themselves a loyal local following and more than a few Canadian Brewing Awards along the way. In the winter issue of HARBORS Magazine, I cover four of the eight in a short feature entitled "Brewing Up Business."
Of course I couldn't do a story on Victoria's beer scene without mentioning Spinnakers and Swans, two brewpubs that made a mark in the 80s, well before some of their current peers had even considered brewing professionally. But while they might be a venerable duo in the industry, neither is content to rest on their laurels. Spinnakers, for example, recently released Das Razz, a strong Belgian-style ale with raspberries (8.2% ABV), while Swans sold out of their new Saison (a 6.3% ABV spiced winter ale) in about three weeks. Not to be outdone, Lighthouse Brewing Company debuted their Belgian Black this month, a 9% ABV strong ale available in 650 mL bottles. Any one of these beers would be worth seeking out on its own. Considering the fact that all three can be sampled in the same city, I'd say it's time to start counting frequent flyer miles.