Vancouver vs. Victoria – Craft Beer Capital Showdown 2015

Exactly 1 year ago I wrote about how Vancouver and Victoria are currently battling it out for the title of Craft Beer Capital of Canada. (Have a look, it’s on this blog.)

Let’s look at what I concluded…

Quality: Victoria
Quantity: Vancouver
Tasting Rooms: Vancouver
Tourism Options: Vancouver
Craft Beer Pubs: Tie
Brewpubs: Victoria

IMG_3209Hmm… yikes was I a bit too hard on Vancouver? Maybe I didn’t want to jinx the scene by giving it glowing reviews. While some categories are staying the same (Quantity, Tasting Rooms, Tourism Options), I am re-thinking my stance on a few others. After one year passing, I think we can update a few of these…

Quality
This one I gave to Victoria last time because of the ratio of great breweries to the total number of breweries. But looking at it now, the amount of breweries opening in Vancouver that are producing very quaffable ales (Yellow Dog, Steel & Oak, Main Street, Dageraad, and of course Fuggles & Warlock) it is clear that even the new Vancouver breweries can compete. So my idea of using ratio to determine quality doesn’t seem to hold up anymore. It’s rather obvious to me now that Vancouver holds the quantity and the quality. Essentially what I’m saying is you name me an amazing Victoria brewery, and Vancouver will have an equally amazing brewery.

Craft Beer PubsIMG_1279
This one severely changed over the last year. It seems like nearly every pub in Vancouver has a strong craft beer lineup, and other crafty pubs are now becoming even more crafty. Lamplighter in Gastown recently added in extra taps to bump their selection to 50 taps. And new pub 12 Kings on Kingsway and 12th has a great lineup of rare, local beers.

One of the big reasons why Victoria managed to tie Vancouver last year was because craft beer was available in their hockey arena. Well guess what? Not only do we now have craft beer in both Rogers Arena and BC Place, but we have multiple selections of craft beer. Victoria has Lighthouse (great beer, but still just the one brewery to choose from); Vancouver can choose from Central City’s Red Racer beer, Parallel 49, Red Truck, and Steamworks!

IMG_3003Brewpubs
I gave this to Victoria last time. It’s tough to take it away from them since Spinnakers, Moon Under Water, Canoe and Swans are personal favourites. But in the last year, Vancouver saw Steel Toad open up, producing good beer in a very cool space. And also Postmark Brewing opened in the Settlement Building with Belgard Kitchen — so technically it is a “brewpub” in a way. This is a tough decision to make, but I think I am going to swing this one to Vancouver. The brewpubs are quite diverse — from Steamworks to Steel Toad to Postmark to Central City. Very different beers and very different atmospheres.

So to conclude this piece where I pretty much trash any praise I gave to Victoria a year ago, let me say this: From March 2014 to March 2015, there have been enough significant changes to prove Vancouver is the craft beer capital of Canada. I have nothing against Victoria — it’s my favourite place to spend a weekend. It’s a wonderful, magical place with great beer. But last year I said that a true capital dictates the scene…

Ahem:

Four Winds: remarkable, trend-setting beers.
Brassneck: the tasting room of tasting rooms and a variety of styles that proves BC’s beer scene can compete with the rest of Cascadia.
Central City: multi-award winning beers flourishing across Canada with an IPA being recognized as the taste of BC.
Parallel 49: creativity to the extreme… both in the bottle and on the label.
Fuggles & Warlock: nomad brewers doing very cool things despite not having a permanent home.
Powell Street: brewery of the year months after opening (for a damn good reason).
Storm: no brewery in Canada is like this…

Should I keep going? You get the point. (I still love you, Victoria. Don’t be mad at me.)

Quality: Vancouver
Quantity: Vancouver
Tasting Rooms: Vancouver
Tourism Options: Vancouver
Craft Beer Pubs: Vancouver
Brewpubs: Vancouver

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2 comments

  1. Victoria not only has great beer but a great scene and great people. I do agree though that Vancouver is kicking their but now for all categories. It has nothing to do with Victoria though and all to do with Vancouver. Our population is much bigger and when we decide to support something it is hard for places like Victoria to keep up. Their breweries are epic but there are just more epic ones in Vancouver now.

  2. Braeden DW · · Reply

    I don’t think I can take the brewpubs category away from Victoria quite yet. Spinnakers and Swans remain the only places (correct me if I’m wrong) in either city where you can still enjoy a proper, and highly underrated, pint of British style real ale, supported by new age beers like Andrew’s unreal Master Blaster Northwest brett saison. Clay at Moon makes consistently outstanding beer, including the best hefe I’ve had this side of Germany, and his new sour beer program that is rocking for how new to sours Clay is! I’m biased though, because I can hit Moon with a baseball from my work. That being said, you darn Vancouverites have definitely eclipsed everything else except for the amount of breweries per capita!

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