Savour unique suds at these craft beer spots in Victoria

Victoria earned the unofficial title of Canada’s craft beer capital in 1984, when archaic BC liquor laws were overturned, allowing Spinnakers to become the country’s first brewpub. It was once illegal to serve beer in the same building where it was brewed, but thankfully this is no longer the case. With quality brewpubs and plenty of local taps, Victoria is the place for microbrew aficionados to raise a pint.

Spinnakers Brewpub & Guest House Restaurant

308 Catherine St, Victoria, BC V9A 3S8

Canada’s revolutionary brewpub, Spinnakers is located in a restored heritage house. It features an upstairs taproom and an all-ages main-floor restaurant. Try the crisp Spinnakers Lager or the malty, complex Jameson’s Scottish Ale. Rotating guest taps feature various BC microbrews, and if you sample a few too many, stay over in a beautifully appointed guest cottage. The food is good, too: try the West Coast seafood sampler. Take home a bottle of Spinnakers’ malt vinegar, and stop at the bakery for truffles, bread and a treat for Fido.

Canoe Brewpub

450 Swift St, Victoria, BC V8W 1S3

This 1894 heritage building houses a convivial pub, a kid-friendly restaurant, and a lounge, all in a rustic brick and timber frame environment. Canoe serves four or five core brews plus a half-dozen seasonal beers on tap. You might try Canoe Lager or the seasonal coffee-flavoured Espresso Stout. For the indecisive, there’s a five-beer taster. Food is seasonally inspired and creative: recent dishes include seared chili-rubbed beef with chimichurri, pickled beets and Malbec molasses and a tomato-fennel wild seafood bowl.

Swans Suite Hotel

506 Pandora Ave, Victoria, BC V8W 1N6

Swans Brewpub and Swans Brewery are housed in the same restored grain warehouse that also features a boutique hotel upstairs. Swans attracts a mixed crowd of tourists and locals eager to try one of the nine beers that include Appleton Brown, a London-style ale with a chocolate aroma, and Berry Ale, a medium-bodied raspberry brew. Listen to live music and order food while you sip. Menu items include soups and sandwiches, chorizo mac and cheese and a duck burger with fig compote.

Moon Under Water Brewpub

350 Bay St, Victoria, BC V8T 1P7

Victoria’s newest brewpub (born in 2010) is hidden away in a commercial area and is popular with locals and hardcore microbrew fans. Modelled after German brewhauses, The Moon produces European-style beers. Its eight core brews have offbeat names like Hip as Funk and Creepy Unkel. Another five or so seasonal beers are available on tap. Crow’s Nest is the pub’s collection of barrel aged sours: try the Sang du Merle with its blackcurrant flavour. The food menu is standard pub fare including wings, skins, burgers and nachos.

Four Mile Brew Pub

199 Island Hwy, Victoria, BC V9B 1G1

A 150-year-old Tudor-style building is home to Four Mile Brew Pub, which is subdivided into restaurant, pub and sports bar spaces. The restaurant is reminiscent of a charming country inn, while the pub and sports bar are more casual. Four Mile claims to be the only brewery in western North America using the Peter Austin Brick Kettle Brewing System, Austin being the father of contemporary microbrewing. It produces ales that include a British pale ale and a full-bodied, malty brown ale.

Bard & Banker Public House

1022 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1X7

Catering to tourists and the downtown crowd, the Bard & Banker is a trendy, two-tiered bar. Writer Robert Service (The Cremation of Sam McGee) once worked at this former Bank of British Columbia location, built in 1885. In his honour, Phillips Brewing created the Service 1904 Scottish Stone Fired Ale. The bar features a local craft-beer draught selection including a flight of four of its most popular pours. Accompany with atypical bar food such as braised pork cheek cassoulet or curried white bean hummus.

Bedford Regency Hotel

1140 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1Y2

Beer lovers drink at Garrick’s Head. One of the oldest English pubs in Canada (1867) and a fixture in historic Bastion Square, it claims Victoria’s largest selection of craft and import beers on tap. There are two-dozen Vancouver Island craft breweries represented alone. Beers include Sea Dog Amber, Lighthouse Tasman Ale and Driftwood Crooked Coast Altbier. The food menu is smaller, featuring deep fried pickles, beer battered fries and mussels as well as lamb and tuna burgers. A wood-burning fireplace is especially nice on Victoria’s damp winter days.

Yates Street Taphouse

759 Yates St, Victoria, BC V8W 1L6

The Dominion, BC’s oldest continually operating hotel, is home to Yates Street Taphouse. Close to Memorial Center arena, the sports bar serves more than 40 beers on tap, mainly microbrews, with 15 rotating seasonal taps. You can order a 1.5 litre beer tower with a chilled base to keep your beer cool while you watch the game on big screen TVs. The bacon wrapped rib eye bits are a menu standout, as is the Heat Seeker burger with hot sauce, fried jalapenos and chipotle mayo – it will keep you reaching for that beer tower.

The Guild

1250 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W 1T8

This Old Town English-style pub has an impressive draught list of about 35 brews from across North America and Europe including Munich’s CREW Drunken Sailor IPA and Copenhagen’s Black Ball Porter. The focus is on craft. Local offerings include Hoyne’s Down Easy, VI Brewing’s Mile High Mountain Ale and Saltspring Island Ales’ Crème Brulee Vanilla Stout. The menu is very British pub with emphasis on comfort food: Scotch eggs, Welsh rarebit, split pea and ham soup, beef and mushroom pie.

Business lunch isn’t always about meeting customers. Sometimes it’s about kicking ideas around during a casual lunch with colleagues. And a nicely priced meal in a sociable setting will do wonders for your productivity. Victoria has plenty of office-retreat eatery options. The common denominator in our list is fast, friendly service that gives you plenty of time to refuel and recharge before you’re back to the daily grind.
Afternoon tea dates back to 1840 England; Victoria, with strong historical ties to the British Motherland, upholds this tradition in fine style. But don’t believe it’s all stuffy, prim and proper – afternoon teas are becoming popular as children’s birthday parties. Whether you’re looking for a casual place for a light meal, or a more formal spot to impress your mother-in-law, this list has you covered.
Victoria may not have a designated Little Italy (unless the Leonardo da Vinci cultural centre counts), but it’s not lacking an Italian culinary scene. From authentic Old World dining to West Coast-flavoured contemporary Italian, from romantic candlelight meals to family-friendly feasts, this list has got your Italian cravings covered. Buon Appetito!
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