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Meet Vancouver Island Brewery

In a nutshell: Vancouver Island Brewery is Victoria’s first and oldest craft brewery, helping spark the craft beer revolution nearly 30 years before it became trendy. Vancouver Island Brewery crafts especially flavourful beer, when compared with commercially produced lager; some are cloudy, others boast local ingredients or unique flavours like Beachcomber Ale’s banana finish on the tongue. Most importantly, their beer is made with passion. According to General Manager Rob Ringma, “There is no such thing as bad beer, but there’s different beer for different occasions.”

 # of Employees:  37 full-time and 5 part-time employees helping us for the summer as it is our busiest season.

Industry Sector: Brewing Industry, Beverage Alcohol - Beer

Area of Town: In Greater Victoria’s “brewing district” the area running from Government Street into Esquimalt, and the area surrounding the Johnson and Bay Street Bridges.

Primary Product/Service:  Local, quality, craft beer

Annual Revenue: We brew 20,000 hectolitres of beer per year; we’ll let you work out the math on that one.

How would you describe Vancouver Island Brewery in 30 words or less?

Vancouver Island Brewery is the Island’s original craft brewery and has a 30 year history of commitment to supporting the Island and delivering a quality craft beer experience. 

What is the best part about doing business in Greater Victoria?
Victoria is a vibrant, progressive and diverse city with a population base that supports and celebrates local culture and businesses. As a local business we love the feeling of community in Greater Victoria and appreciate the opportunity to brew, live and work in this city.

What is the best thing Vancouver Island Brewery is doing for Greater Victoria?
We care about the communities we do business in and have a commitment to the environment and multiple community initiatives. We use a reusable, refillable bottle that prevents additional glass from ending up in the landfill and have specialized equipment in our brew house to reclaim heat and water energy utilized in the craft brewing process. 

Spent grain and yeast from the brewing process are given to local farmers and composters to aid in their efforts to sustain local food production on Vancouver Island. 

From a community perspective the brewery supports hundreds of events, festivals and community fundraisers each year and is proud to partner with local groups such as the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival and their support of the BC Cancer Foundation.

What is it like working at Vancouver Island Brewery?
We tend to use the motto “we’ve got it good” fairly often.  And who’s to say otherwise? Our employees feel privileged to be working in such a fun, social and dynamic business in one of the best places to live in the world. It can get really busy around the brewery in the summertime but we try our best to keep the feeling of community strong with everything from monthly birthday lunches to family BBQ’s, as well as staff events to keep our team excited and engaged.

We tend to work hard and play hard; after work you will often find our employees out on the water, hitting the trails or participating in other outdoor activities – hopefully enjoying a good local beer responsibly afterwards.

What are 3 things few people know about Vancouver Island Brewery?

I really hope we are recognized for our great craft beer, outstanding people, and a longstanding tradition of community support in Greater Victoria and all over the Island.

Because we are an established company on Vancouver Island with a long history, many people assume it means we’re huge. Quite the opposite, we still brew in small batches and until recently our beer was only available on Vancouver Island. Large commercial brewers usually add carbonation to their beer after it has been pasteurized, but we try to use as much of our beer’s natural carbonation as possible.

Here at Vancouver Island Brewery we’re proudest of:
Our brewery is proud to be one of Western Canada’s craft brewing pioneers. Back in 1984 Vancouver Island Brewery started brewing after Labatt’s closed down the last remaining brewery on Vancouver Island. Almost 30 years later we are proud to be one of the breweries involved in kick-starting the local craft brewing renaissance that we all currently enjoy today. We built our brewery on a long-standing tradition of community support and will continue to do so as part of our ongoing commitment to our Island customers, friends and family.

Other fun facts about Vancouver Island Brewery
Our beer is all natural. We use natural ingredients and try to use local ingredients as much as possible. Our beer is also un-pasteurized so it has a shelf-life of about six months. We micro filter the beer to remove the yeast and bacteria, but after about six months’ time we can’t control the flavour of the beer any longer so we monitor what our distributors have in stores and switch out for new product by the five or six month mark. You’ll notice that every box and bottle is date stamped.

When we want to experiment with new recipes and flavours we’ll brew a 40 litre batch to test it before going ahead with full production. Batching up is fairly easy because it’s very similar to baking, where balancing ingredient ratios will deliver the same product. The Sea Dog recipe was written on a napkin at the navy base when we visited them to taste their beer and get inspiration. After tasting their beer and discussing which qualities we wanted in Sea Dog and a few sips, our Brewmaster jotted the recipe down and handed it to me. We launched Sea Dog using that very same recipe to celebrate the Navy’s 100th Anniversary in 2010!

For more information about Vancouver Island Brewery check out their Chamber Directory Listing or their website for Vancouver Island Brewery.


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