Canoe: Paddling Towards Craft Beer and Cocktails in Victoria

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The second leg of my Victoria beer two-step, after stopping at Spinnakers, involved a cab ride to the massive, waterfront Canoe brewpub, opened by caterer Don Calveley and Truffles Group in 1996.

Brewpub Victoria
The building dates to 1894 and first housed coal-fired electric generators that powered Victoria’s streetlights. The coal smoke long died down, and now a namesake canoe hangs from the rafters.

Brewpub Victoria
Even early in the evening, the back bar was bumpin’ during our visit.

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Bartender Vincent Vanderheide, a four-year veteran, the head mixologist and a man that local bar star Shawn Soole singled out as an up-and-comer, helmed Canoe’s high-volume bar.

Craft Beer Victoria
Brewmaster Sean Hoyne is making low-gravity beers, none of which were aggressively hopped. Even though some people have spoken out against the peculiar nature of the word “sessionable” lately, all of the beers in my flight would fall into that category, meaning these are beers that could easily fuel long sessions of sitting and sipping without hitting the point of palate fatigue or incapacitation. Tasters included Red Canoe lager (5.2% ABV) hopped with Saaz; Siren’s Song pale ale (5% ABV) brewed with Baird’s crystal malt and East Kent Golding hops; creamy, mahogany-hued Beaver Brown ale (5.4% ABV) involving chocolate malt; River Rock bitter (5.2% ABV), a British-style ESB; and Bavarian Copper Bock (6.5% ABV).

Craft Beer Victoria
Vanderheide snuck us an early taster of Summer Honey Wheat Ale (5% ABV), a summer seasonal infused with Saaz hops, cloudy, not yet fully formed, but still refreshing.

Cocktail Victoria
It’s always fun to see site-specific collaborations, and that was certainly in effect at Canoe, as Vanderheide was using teas from Chinatown’s Silk Road in cocktails. His Bloody Margarita incorporated Olmeca silver tequila Cointreau, lime juice, blood orange juice, tart tamarind and smokiness from Lapsong Souchong tea syrup. He also uses Philosopher’s Brew (a lemony tea with lemongrass, citrus peel, rose hips, lavender blossoms) for Sangria; and Alchemist’s Brew (hibiscus flowers, spearmint, lemongrass, rosehips, cinnamon bark) in a mojito with hibiscus syrup.

My initial visit to Canoe was food-free, so it’s impossible to say what it would be like to eat in-house, though a menu that drops words like “local farmers,” “changing menu” and “wild seafood” is a good sign. Regardless, the easy-drinking beers and additional tea cocktails would warrant a return trip.

Note: My visit to Canoe was complimentary, as part of a tour hosted by Tourism Victoria.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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