Spinnakers: Pioneering Bay-Front Brewpub in Victoria

Craft Beer Victoria


We started near the houseboats on James Bay and patiently waited on a short pier for our ride to arrive. It didn’t take long to see the H2O Taxi, which launched three days prior to my Victoria visit.

Water Taxi Victoria
The yellow and black checkered boat promptly deposited us at Spinnakers, a Victoria institution that dates to June 16, 1984, when Paul Hadfield opened the doors. Since then, he’s developed a reputation for beer that’s reached beyond Vancouver Island’s shores. Hadfield also focuses on local ingredients in the food and even hosts 10 guest rooms on-site.

Brewpub Victoria
A blackboard menu near the bar announces the day’s beer offerings, which are listed with original gravity, IBUs and % ABV.

Brewpub Victoria
Manager Ryan Bangma previously packed explosives for a diamond mining company in the Northwest Territories, in minus 60 degrees. He led our tasting of brewmaster Tommie Grant’s beers.

Brewpub Victoria
Grant replaced brewmaster Rob Monk, who left to work at Yukon Brewing. He continues to produce “traditional English styles but with West Coast flair,” to quote Bangma, using ingredients like Maris Otter malt.

Craft Beer Victoria
Monday through Friday, they offer a cask with dry hopping. During my visit, that meant Discovery ale dry hopped with Saaz. An astronaut apparently brought contraband hops into space and contributed said hops to Spinnakers. Hadfield grows the hops at his Sooke cottage and on-site.

Craft Beer Victoria
My first taster contained a cloudy, refreshing hefeweizen that could have done without the lemon garnish. However, the housemade lemon drop chocolate was more than welcome, made by pastry chef Crystal Duck and involving sweet, tangy white chocolate and lemon.

Craft Beer Victoria
A English-style IPA came with Sydney Island venison salami, produced about 30 minutes away. The West Coast is known for its full throttle IPAs, so this was mild in comparison, but also easy drinking.

Craft Beer Victoria
Bangma paired ESB with local Moonstruck Feta, from Salt Spring Island.

Craft Beer Victoria
Spinnakers’ Tsarist Stout contained no coffee, and gained its dark color and toasty flavor from chocolate malt. This beer had no pairing, but it was more or less dessert unto itself.

Even though my stop was kind of short – under an hour – it was still fun to visit a Victoria institution. Their beers are fairly tame compared to what we find in Southern California, but Spinnakers produces good versions of their chosen styles in an inviting waterfront setting, and next time, I’ll be sure to eat their site-specific food.

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

Spinnakers: Pioneering Bay-Front Brewpub in Victoria

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Joshua Lurie

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

Blog Comments

I was just in Victoria last Saturday, stopped off on an Alaskan cruise. I wish I knew about this place! Looks fantastic.

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