New Island brewery tour book a great resource for beer fans

Also available in Monday Magazine, originally posted on May 19th, 2019.

For many people who appreciate beer, being able to put pen to paper to share knowledge about it is an amazing experience. For some, it progresses to a published book, and to a select few, one can become many.

Jon C. Stott has managed to become one of the lucky few, and fortunately for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, he’s chosen to focus mainly on our part of the world to write about.

His newest release, Island Craft, takes the same travelling, storytelling style he’s used in his previous books, Beer QuestWest (2011), New Mexico Beer (2014) and Beer 101 North (2017). He pinpoints it on a trip through Vancouver Island’s beer community, starting in Victoria and zigzagging all the way up island to Campbell River’s Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House.

Speaking from Albuquerque where he spends more of his time now, his fondness for Victoria, where he grew up, was evident. His passion for the growth of locally produced craft beer was even more pronounced, and it shows in the way he weaves a story around every brewery, brewer and community he visited. Expanding on the smaller island influence in Beer Quest West, Stott’s upbringing brought back some nostalgia.

“It seemed it would be fun to go back, revisit the Island of my youth … and make a beer rediscovery journey,” he said.

Asked about some of his favourite stops while researching, Stott voiced a preference for the smaller, out-of-the-way breweries, such as Love Shack Libations in Qualicum Beach, and Riot Brewing in Chemainus: “You might not think of going there because it’s off the beaten track, but it’s worth the stop.”

Sooke’s growth is also a bright spot for him. He referred to the community as “beyond the beyond” during his youth, adding that a city resident needed a “very good reason to go out that way.” He pointed out, “the demographics have changed, and now there’s demand for good local craft beer out there,” which the three breweries are definitely providing.

He also acknowledged the rapid changes in the industry, noting his need to add some information after submitting his manuscript with the opening of Howl Brewing last summer, and how pre-opening interviews related to Ile Sauvage and Comox’s Land & Sea now reference breweries that have been up and running for a short time.

Whether you’re a beer geek, or just planning a vacation in the hopes of stopping by some of the many breweries all across the Island, this book is a great look at some of the stories behind the beer we drink, and as Stott puts it, a great reminder that we’re all “Lucky to be Loc-Ale.”

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