Saturday marks the 8th iteration of a hidden gem in the beer calendar. The Strathcona Hotel is hosting its Island Beer Festival in Distrikt Nightclub and The Games Room, where they will have 17 breweries serving at least 45 different beers alongside a selection of food.
As for beer selection, the 17 breweries and their beers will include a wide range coming from right here at home, all over the island, the mainland, and even from as far south as California and as far east as Ontario. In addition to this, there may be additional casks that are being kept under wraps as a surprise, so you won’t want to miss out on those.
Making the shortest trip of all, these breweries already call Victoria home, so they really will be right at home pouring for attendees.
Phillips Brewing and Malting Co. are definitely bring something for everyone, with a range from the light and sessionable Pilsner to the bigger Space Goat Dry Hopped Oat Pale Ale, and for those looking for the biggest, they will also be serving their Hammer Oak-Aged Imperial Stout.
VI Brewing, currently going through a rebirth, will be bringing their 3 current offerings, Carmanah Amber Ale, Piper’s Pale Ale, and 48 Dark Lager. These beers have been changed slightly from their older recipes, so be sure to try the newer versions.
Hoyne will be on site serving their perennial favourite, Dark Matter, along with my personal go-to Helios, and their malty Hard Rain Double IPA. Be sure to try the Helios if you haven’t before, it’s a great beer, especially with anything bready like pizza or burgers.
Finally, the newest brewery in town, Twa Dogs, will be bringing some of their core lineup to taste, including their Drouthy Neibor IPA, Holy Willie’s Robust Porter, and to lighten things up, their Keekin Glass Pilsner.
Driving in from Sooke or over the Malahat, these breweries are so close yet so far away. Be warned though, these beers are amazing and you don’t have the excuse of a ferry to keep you from them.
Sooke Oceanside Brewing, obviously from Sooke, are bringing three beers, including a surprise cask. They will also have their Bone Yard IPA, as well as their seasonal Stuck in the Mud Coffee Porter, brewed with coffee from The Stick in the Mud Coffee House. They recently had a tap takeover in town and the beers were gone by just after 10 PM, so I would put them high on the list.
Red Arrow is coming down from Duncan, with a nice balanced selection, with nothing too heavy. They will have their Heritage River Hefeweizen, Old Style Lager, and their nice, rich, Midnight Umber Ale.
FInally, the last and most distant Island Brewery in attendance, Riot Brewing from Chemainus, also one of the most recently opened, will be bringing a nice selection for lighter fare. They will be pouring their LipSlide Lager, Life Partners Pale Ale, and one that I’ve been meaning to try, their Junk Punch IPA.
Mainland Breweries and Beyond
Moving on to the Mainland and beyond, there are still 10 breweries crossing the water to tempt us with some of their amazing brews.
Stanley Park Brewing will have their Noble Pilsner, Winter Glow Mandarin IPA, and a special treat, a cask of their Barrel Aged Sour IPA called Feelin F’whiskey.
Big Rock will also be bringing a nice range of beers with their Citradelic, Honey Brown, and Scottish Heavy, so really something for everyone.
Russell Brewing from Surrey has gone off the beaten path with some of their beers lately, but this usually makes for beers that you have to at least try. A perfect example of this is their Root Beer Milk Stout, which has flavours of sarsaparilla and licorice. As well, they will have their Eastern Promises Czech Pilsner and their fruity Punch Bowl Grapefruit Northwest IPA.
Granville Island is only sending one beer over, but I know I’m likely going to give it a shot, as it is their Small Batch Scottish Ale, which will go perfectly on a crisp February afternoon.
Strange Fellows, well known for making top notch beers, especially in their small batch programs, will be bringing along a couple of their core beers, their Jongleur Belgian Wit and Talisman Pale Ale, but will also be tempting us with a seasonal release, their Goldilocks Belgian Golden Strong.
Steamworks will be bringing a tremendous range of beers, with their nice, light Pilsner, their BC Beer Award Best in Show winning Flagship IPA, and the intriguing Salted Chocolate Porter, which just screams dessert beer.
One of the breweries I can’t get enough of is Parallel 49, based out of East Vancouver. While they’ll be bringing their Craft Lager and Wobbly Pop Pale Ale, which are both fantastic, I can’t wait to try their Mystic Skull No. 5, a Dark Chocolate Mole Cerveza, a limited release that just sounds delicious.
The furthest of BC breweries to grace us with their presence, Parkside Brewery, coming all the way from Brewer’s Row in Port Moody will be showing off their Dawn Pilsner, Dusk Pale Ale, and Graffiti IPA.
Finally, a couple of guest appearances to shake things up, Lagunitas from California will be offering their IPA, which uses 43 different hop varieties, and 65 types of malt, and not to be outdone, coming all the way from Ontario, Creemore Springs will be pouring their Lot 9 Pilsner.
The 8th Annual Island Beer Festival takes place this Saturday, February 25th, from 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM at the Strathcona Hotel’s Distrikt Nightclub and and Games Room. Tickets are $20, include two 4 oz. tasters along with some food. Additional samples are $2, and based on the list above, will definitely be needed.
For tickets, go to ticketfly.com or the Strathcona Hotel.