Island breweries bring home 15 Canadian Brewing Awards

Island breweries bring home 15 Canadian Brewing Awards

Canadian brewing awards 2022

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It’s been a toast-worthy May for Vancouver Island brewers, as 9 local breweries from Sooke to Courtenay took home silverware at the 2022 edition of the Canadian Brewing Awards.

Sooke Brewing Co. earned the night’s biggest honours among Island entries, nabbing gold for their “Barleywine” (Best Barley Wine-Style Ale), a bronze for their “Belgian Blond” (Best Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale), and an honourable mention for their “Czech Dark Lager” (Best European Style Amber to Dark Lager).

“It’s a really good feeling,” said brewmaster and co-owner John Adair, who opened the brewery with 4 partners in 2017 after a career in tree planting and forest fire fighting, followed by a brewing career that led through the northeast of Scotland.

“It’s really a labour of love taking [each beer] from grain to glass… it goes to show that we’re doing something right.”

Joining Adair among local winners were Esquimalt’s Lighthouse Brewing (Bronze, European Style Lager and Dry Stout), Victoria’s Whistle Buoy Brewing (Silver, Historic/Regional Beers) and Moon Under Water (Silver, Specialty IPA), and Sooke Oceanside Brewery (Bronze, Baltic Porter).

“I think it speaks volumes to [the Island’s beer scene],” said Moon Under Water brewmaster and co-owner Clay Potter, who noted a personal point of pride in Moon’s award-winner, “Hip As Funk,” being made entirely of BC-grown barley, wheat, and hops, with grains from Saanichton’s Field Five Farm.

“We’ve always sort of been a brewing powerhouse. Victoria, especially, has had a long reputation as a brewing capital of Canada.”

The region’s status as brewing capital was especially highlighted by silver-winning Backyard IPA from Whistle Buoy Brewing, the experimental small-batch brewery in Market Square. Whistle Buoy sourced this single-malt West Coast IPA’s ingredients from, well, right in its backyard: Pilsner malt from Five Field Farms on the peninsula and Maple Bay Hops from up the Malahat.

Homage to brewer’s late father wins bronze

The night’s honours took on special significance for Lighthouse Brewing, whose “Kapitan Czech Pilsner,” a tribute to the brewery’s late co-founder Dave J. Thomas, earned bronze for European Style Lager. 

Launched in 2021, the beer—a “benefit brew,” which allocates a portion of its proceeds to climate and arctic science charities, along with local arts organizations—serves as a tongue-in-cheek reference to how Thomas, a career oceanographer who died in 2020, chose the landlocked but affordable, newly independent Czech Republic (now Czechia) when he needed a European lab in the 1990s. 

“The one thing that kept popping into my head was that my dad would think this [award] is the coolest thing ever,” Lighthouse general manager Ben Thomas told Capital Daily.

Big wins for Port Alberni, Courtenay

The biggest Island winner of them all was Port Alberni’s Twin City Brewing, which won a gold and two silvers for its smoked beer (“Sparkchaser,” a fall seasonal with smoked malt imported from Germany), English-style pale ale (“Tickity Boo,” which boasts toffee and caramel flavours), and bock (“Dissimulator”).

Also taking home honours were Courtenay’s Gladstone Brewing Co. and Ace Brewing Co., the former of which earned silver and bronze for its “Gladstone Cream Ale” and “Gladstone Belgian Single,” and the latter of which earned bronze for its “Chinook Rye Pale Ale.”

Written by

Capital Daily Staff

Capital Daily Staff