The craft beer market is flourishing in Victoria and that means there are more breweries to see than ever in the capital city. And there’s no better way to explore the local production and small batch breweries than with an experienced guide and a designated driver.
“It’s really the way to go if you want to get a good feel for the local brewing industry, because if you want to check out multiple breweries in a day, it can be hard to get to and from, especially if you’re enjoying the sample room,” says West Coast Brewery Tours owner, Elton Walker.
Walker attributes the explosive popularity of craft brewing in B.C. to people like Vancouver’s Joe Wiebe, author of Craft Beer Revoloution: The Insiders Guide to BC Breweries and Mike Garrison, a Vancouver blogger who tastes and reviews craft beer of all kinds.
“These are the guys who have really inspired and worked to put a positive spin on the local craft-brewing industry,” says Walker.
The company, which Walker opened in the spring of 2014, offers public and private tours. Three-hour public tours run Wednesday, Friday, Saturday (April to October) and Saturday, Sunday (November to March). Tours start at noon and leave from the Victoria Clipper terminal on Belleville Street.
Public tours include transportation to three breweries aboard the West Coast Brewery Tour brew bus, samples at the breweries visited, a fully guided tour of the brewery production areas and the brewery history, and an informative introduction to the brewing process.
“We try to get a mix of large and small scale breweries on these tours so our guests can get feel for both,” explains Walker, adding that West Coast Brewery Tour works with 12 of Victoria’s most popular production and boutique breweries on a rotating basis.
If beer isn’t your only libation of choice, a four-hour public tour featuring a craft brewery, a craft cidery and a craft spirits distillery on the Saanich Peninsula is also available on Thursdays (from April to October) at noon.
For a more personal experience, private tours are offered by request from 4 to 7 p.m. with discounts available for groups of 10 or more.
“It’s the perfect way to celebrate a stag or stagette, or for occasions like office parties or birthdays,” says Walker.
Walker adds he sees a wide range of people enjoying the tours and that he’s looking forward to offering cruise ship specials for the first time this summer.
“I always try to keep it growing and changing to keep it fresh,” he adds.
More tour information and online booking is available at westcoastbrewerytours.ca.