Times Colonist from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on December 30, 1984 · 37
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Times Colonist from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada · 37

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 30, 1984
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The Islander p if w 1 1 fci 'PI ill ' ' ...V '.. ' J I; , ; , ! V - t -' '1 "i'f Hi IE? 4 i. 4 v. h M'w Leeward Breu erv Comox. 1 Bre kettles and fermentation tanks at Spinnakers. Vancouver Island's cottage breweries Bob Tyrrell (Ct-author of Island Puh-bing: A Guide to Pubs on Vancouver Island and the GulfMands) Vancouver Island is well on its way to becoming the centre of a small but growing industry that is sure to please local beer lovers brew-pubs and cottage breweries. Three of the four licensed brew-' pubs now operating in the province are located on the Island: two in the Victoria area and one in Comox. A fourth pub is- scheduled to begin producing its own brew in Nanaimo soon. And the Victoria area will also have a cottage brewery when Island Pacific Brewing Company begins distributing keg beer. A word about the difference between a brew-pub and a cottage brewery. A brew-pub is a neighborhood pub which is licensed to set up a brewing operation to make beer for sale only at the pub itself. A cottage brewery produces beer for sale to other pubs and liquor outlets or to the general public. The popular Prairie Inn in Saan-ichton was the first Island pub to set up its own brewing system. The first beer hit the taps in mid-August 1983. After almost a year and a half in the brewing business, owners Dave And Wayne Duncan, father and son, are quick to point out the challenges involved in producing a quality beer that w ill appeal to Canadian tastes so long dominated by the limited range of products coming from our three largest national breweries. Although happy with the beer now flowing from the brewery directly to the taps at the Prairie Inn, Wayne Duncan admits that some of their early brews were not what they night have been. Consistency problems have long been overcome and the Prairie Inn Lagers, a light and a dark, are now regarded as fine beers. Nevertheless, those customers lost during the early months Pago 12 arc not easily won back. Wayne plans to add a British-type ale in the New Year and possibly a cider for the summer and a dark stout at some point in the not-too-distant future. ; Spinnakers, Lime Bay, Victoria's newest neighborhood pub, opened last spring complete with its own brewery, Victoria West. Owner John Mitchell has a wealth of experience in the hospitality trade and is no stranger to the brew-pub business, having been a partner in B.C.'s first such establishment, The Trollcr in Horseshoe Bay. At Spinnakers patrons can actually watc h Mitchell or his assistant at work in the brewery through the large windows at the pub's entrance. In fact. Spinnakers is the only brew-pub at this time in w hich the brewery-is located in the same building as the pub (federal legislation allowing this was enacted only last year). John Mitchell faces the greatest challenge of all among the cottage brewers, because he brews traditional English ales rather than the Canadian lagers brewed by the other two Island brew-pubs. Not only does he have to produce a quality product, but he must also hope that his clientele will develop a taste for the maltier brew that is normally served at a warmer temperature than is common in this country. But what better place to serve a British ale than Victoria? Spinnakers presently serves three of their own brews: Spinnakers Light Ale, Mitchell's Extra Special Bitter, and Mt. Tolmie Dark Ale. A touch of old country authenticity is added to the whole process at Spinnakers the beer is drawn up from the basement storage tanks by means of genuine hand pumps imported from Britain. For up-Island beer fanciers, The Leeward Neighborhood Pub in Comox began serving Leeward Lager only this past August. Gil and Ron Gaudry. another father and son team, set out to produce a Canadian- type lager. They want to brew a beer not vastly different from typical draught, but one with perhaps a bit more flavor. Judging by the initial reaction to their product, it would seem that they are succeeding in their quest. The pub reports serving Leeward Lager to 60 per cent of their draught customers. In the future the Gaudrys plan to add a dark beer and possibly 6", " Vm"'L " 'j' Saankhton's Prairie Inn was first in the field. a cider to their list of products. When asked why each decided to enter the cottage brewery business, the owners of all three brew-pubs agree on one thing: it was not for the money. Setting up a brew-pub is an expensive proposition; building and equipment costs run in the neighborhood of $100,000, Tanks for fermentation and aging are stainless steel and much of the equipment must be imported from Great Britain or Europe. All three owners talk about looking for a challenge, something to set their pubs off from the rest, to make them a bit unique. Wayne Duncan claims that he won't be satisfied until Prairie Inn products account for 75 per cent of draught sales (and then he says he'll likely shoot for 90 per cent.) John Mitchell firmly believes that given the opportunity, his patrons will willingly acquire a taste for the fuller, maltier taste of his traditionally brewed ales. At the Leeward Ron Gaudry talks of the potential for attracting customers with a brew-pub, as well as the challenge of brewing a good beer. The brew-masters at ail three pubs are more than happy to show-off their operations to interested customers. The Prairie Inn even holds regularly scheduled brewery tours (Monday and Tuesday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 11:30 a.m.). Nanaimo will very soon have its own brew-pub. The Terminal Hotel is now in the process of doing necessary renovations and installing equipment imported from England. The yet-to-be-named brew will again be a Canadian-type lager with an alcohol content of about 1.75 per cent. Manager John Rndd is bringing in a brewmaster from England to get the new enterprise started right. Locally brewed beer will soon be available at any number of pubs throughout the island when Island Pacific Brewing company begins distributing keg beer. The Central Saanich operation will produce Coldstream Local Lager, a richly colored light lager brewed from toil per cent natural ingredients. The greatest benefit in this recent interest in producing quality beers in small quantities, of course, falls to the beer lover. Several years ago, when one ordered a draught beer, no questions were asked; each establishment carried but one selection. Today it is common for pubs to have three, four or even five beers on tap. And a brew-pub, such as Spinnakers, will offer six or seven varieties of draught beer. The large national breweries are now each brewing two or three selections of draught products. The increased competition can only lead to improved products all around. For beer lovers on Vancouver Island, the future looks very bright, indeed.

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