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a group gives a cheers in a victoria brewery

The Victoria Craft Beer & Cider Scene: A Visitor’s Guide

Are you planning to visit the island and explore the Victoria craft beer and cider scene? You’re in luck! Victoria has a thriving craft beer and cider industry with unique and flavorful brews to suit any palate.

In fact, this Vancouver Island hideaway is home to over 20 breweries, in addition to numerous cideries, craft beer bars and taphouses. For this reason, Victoria is affectionately known as Canada’s craft beer capital!

Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or a first-time visitor, this guide is tailored to help you navigate the local scene and discover the best places to sip and savour Victoria’s craft beer and cider.

Victoria Craft Beer

Victoria is a charming city known for its scenic beauty, historic landmarks, and vibrant culture. However, one of the city’s best-kept secrets is its craft beer and cider scene, which has been gaining popularity in recent years. From classic breweries to small-scale cideries, Victoria has something for everyone.

If you’re a first-time visitor, you might wonder where to start. With so many options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which breweries to visit. This guide is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of Victoria’s craft beer and cider scene and help you plan the ultimate beer and cider tour.

Getting to Know Victoria’s Craft Beer and Cider Scene

Before you embark on your beer and cider adventure, it’s helpful to know what to expect. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The Local Culture: Victoria’s craft beer and cider scene is deeply rooted in the city’s local culture. Breweries and cideries are often located in historic buildings or neighbourhoods, making them a hub for community gatherings and events. Many places also incorporate local ingredients and flavours into their brews, giving them a distinct Victoria flair.

Variety: From hoppy IPAs to crisp ciders, the Victoria craft beer and cider scene offers a wide range of flavours and styles. Whether you prefer traditional brews or experimental flavours, there’s something for everyone. Many places also offer seasonal or limited-edition brews, so be sure to check their menus regularly.

Accessibility: One of the best things about Victoria’s craft beer and cider scene is its accessibility. Many places are located within walking distance of each other, making it easy to plan a self-guided tour. What’s more, there are numerous breweries located within walking distance of downtown for ease of access to most visitors. However, if it’s your first time, we highly recommend opting for a guided Victoria brewery tour if you’d prefer a more structured experience.



The Best Victoria Craft Breweries

Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to dive into the best places to visit. Here are some of the top spots in Victoria’s craft beer and cider scene for those interested in going the self-guided route:

a flight of beer at phillips brewing co. in victoria

Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.

VTG Recommendation: Philips Blue Buck Ale

Located in the heart of downtown Victoria, Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. is a must-visit for any beer lover. The brewery offers a wide range of brews, from classic IPAs to experimental sours. They also have a tasting room and patio where you can sample their brews and enjoy the lively atmosphere.

A true island success story, Phillips began as the impassioned dream of one man who was financed with nothing more than credit card debt. Over 20 years later, the brewery is perhaps the most famous in Victoria. You can find their impressive tasting room downtown on Government Street.

the patio at whistle buoy brewing co. in market square, victoria

Whistle Buoy Brewing Co.

VTG Recommendation: Pucker Face Rasberry Sour

Looking to grab a couple of quick brews after a day spent exploring the Inner Harbour or Victoria’s Chinatown? This upstart Victoria brewery has a tasting room situated in the lower courtyard of nearby Market Square. So not only is this the closest tasting room to downtown, but you can also check out over 35 additional restaurants, shops, and boutiques on your visit.

As a self-anointed “little brewery with big ideas,” this downtown brewer focuses on creative, small-batch beers using the freshest local ingredients. As such, the selection can vary widely by season. But the one thing that won’t change is Whistle Buoy’s top-notch location and taproom, so give it a try.

a customer enjoys a flight at driftwood brewery, victoria, bc

Driftwood Brewery

VTG Recommendation: Fat Tug IPA

Driftwood Brewery is known for its award-winning brews and creative flavours. Their Fat Tug IPA is a fan favourite and a must-try for any hophead. They also offer seasonal and limited edition brews, so be sure to check their menu regularly. You can visit their tasting room or join a guided tour for a behind-the-scenes look at their brewing process.

In addition to their wide selection of core and seasonal beers, you’ll also find a pair of distinct gins that sit at different spots of the flavour wheel. Their Esquimalt taproom has over 16 taps of fresh beer, including special and one-off releases, as well as local wine, cocktails and cider.

a woman enjoys a flight of ciders at the sea cider farm and ciderhouse outside of victoria, bc

Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

VTG Recommendation: Witch’s Brew Cider

If you’re a fan of cider, Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse is a must-visit. Located in the scenic Saanich Peninsula, the cidery offers a wide range of ciders made from local apples and ingredients. They also have a tasting room and patio where you can enjoy the picturesque views while sipping on cider.

While the Southern Island is home to numerous cideries, most are located far from town in the Cowichan Valley or Gulf Islands. So, if you’re looking for something a little closer, then you’ve found it. What’s more, its Saanichton location is near attractions such as Victoria Butterfly Gardens and Butchart Gardens. So if you fancy an ice-cold cider afterwards, then you’re in luck!

category 12's fractal triple ipa

Category 12 Brewing

VTG Recommendation: Tiramisu Pastry Stout

Category 12 Brewing is a family-owned microbrewery known for its scientific approach to brewing. They offer a unique range of brews, from traditional Belgian-style beers to experimental sours and barrel-aged beers. You can visit their tasting room and enjoy their outdoor patio for a relaxing afternoon of beer tasting.

The brewery is also located in Saanichton, not far from Sea Cider. So, if you want to taste a few brews with your cider, consider heading down to Keating Cross Road to check out Category 12’s science-based concoctions.

a selection of beers from hoyne brewing's award winning lineup

Hoyne Brewing Co.

VTG Recommendation: Dark Matter

Hoyne Brewing Co. is a neighbourhood brewery that’s been serving up delicious brews since 2011. This award-winning brewery is the brainchild of Sean Hoyne, formerly the Swans and Canoe Brewpubs brewmaster. After years of slanging suds for others, the dream of his own brewery was born.

Hoyne offers a range of classic and experimental brews, and their tasting room is a cozy spot to relax with friends and enjoy the local vibes. The Dark Matter Dark Ale has won numerous awards, but if you’re not a fan of darker beers, I’m partial to their Vienna and Helios German-style lagers as well.

a flight of beers at the ile sauvage brewery in victoria, bc

Île Sauvage Brewing

VTG Recommendation: Yuzu Gose

Île Sauvage Brewing is a small-scale brewery that’s making big waves in the Victoria craft beer scene. They specialize in sour and wild beers, and their taproom is a cozy spot to sample their unique brews. They also have a rotating food menu that pairs perfectly with their beer selection.

Île Sauvage is French for “Wild Island.” The name references both the wilderness of Vancouver Island and their focus on Belgian-style wild ales and sour beers. If you’re looking for more experimental brews, this is the spot for you.

moon under water's award-winning potts's pilsner

The Moon Under Water Brewery & Pub

VTG Recommendation: Potts Pilsner

Located near the Bay Street Bridge, the Moon Under Water Brewery & Pub is a classic spot in Victoria’s craft beer scene. They offer a wide range of classic and European-style brews that seamlessly blend local ingredients and sensibilities with centuries of German brewing tradition.

Their cozy pub atmosphere and outdoor patio make it a great spot to spend an afternoon or evening with friends. So, if you’re looking for a good spot to grab a German-style pilsner or lager, then hit up Moon Under Water Brewery.

a crowd enjoys the tasting room at victoria's vancouver island brewing

Vancouver Island Brewing

VTG Recommendation: Nanaimo Bar Imperial Porter

With the last brewery on our list, we’ve opted to go for an oldie but a goodie. Vancouver Island Brewing has been helping to drive innovation in the Victoria craft brewing scene since its inception in 1994. In fact, at the time, it was the only operating purpose-built brewery in town – making it a trailblazer of sorts in an industry that is now thriving.

In 2017, the brewery’s Government Street location underwent a dramatic refit. So when you visit, you’ll find a taproom with an incredible variety of housemade favourites – accompanied by locally sourced snacks from all over the island. So don’t worry; this industry vet remains as relevant as ever!

a flight of whiskies at victoria's famed macaloney's island distillery

Macaloney’s Island Distillery

VTG Recommendation: Kildara Single Malt Whisky

For our last selection, we’ll switch gears a little with Macaloney’s Island Distillery. This unique spot combines brewing and distilling, specializing in Scottish-style beers and single-malt whisky. It was founded by a trio of Scotsmen with an extensive background working in their homeland’s finest distilleries.

The result? An award-winning distillery that produces some of the finest single malts in North America. The site is shared with Twa Dogs Brewing, so they have some great beers on site as well. 

Victoria Craft Beer Tips

If it’s your first time exploring the Victoria craft beer and cider scene, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:

Plan Ahead: Before you arrive in Victoria, research the breweries and cideries that interest you and plan your route accordingly. Many places are within walking distance of each other so that you can create your own self-guided tour on foot. But a number of spots on our list are located north of town in the Saanich Peninsula – so a vehicle may be necessary.

Try Something New: Victoria’s craft beer and cider scene offers a wide range of flavours and styles, so be sure to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You might discover a new favourite brew or cider that you wouldn’t have otherwise tried. Breweries such as Whistle Buoy, Île Sauvage and Driftwood are particularly renowned for their creative sours, goses, and other beers that use non-traditional ingredients.

Pace Yourself: With so many delicious brews and ciders to try, it’s easy to get carried away. Pace yourself and remember to stay hydrated and eat food throughout the day. Otherwise, the next morning could be a rough experience!

Take a Tour: If you prefer a more structured experience, consider taking a guided tour of Victoria’s craft beer and cider scene. Many companies offer tours that provide an in-depth look at the brewing process and the history of the industry in Victoria. And just as importantly, they offer safe transportation.

Luckily, we just so happen to have a complete list below!

Victoria Craft Beer Tours

If you’re a craft beer lover visiting Victoria, you might be wondering whether to take a craft beer tour or visit the breweries on your own. While both options have their benefits, here are some reasons why you might want to consider indulging in one of our Victoria brewery tours:

  • Expert Guides – A craft beer tour offers the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of craft beer in Victoria from expert guides. The guides can provide insights into the brewing process, beer styles, and local ingredients used in the beer.
  • No Driving – When you take a Victoria Craft Beer tour, you don’t have to worry about driving between destinations. The tour company provides transportation, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the beer without worrying about getting behind the wheel.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Access – Some craft beer tours offer behind-the-scenes access to the brewing process, giving you a deeper understanding of how the beer is made.
  • Make New Friends – If you’re a solo traveller or even part of a small group, it can be intimidating visiting a brewery on your own. And, after all, beer always tastes better with good company. So why not hook up with a group of like-minded travellers – you never know who you might meet!
  • Local Insights – Craft beer tours are often led by locals who can provide insights into the area’s best breweries, bars, and restaurants. They can also offer recommendations for other activities and attractions in Victoria.

There is a whole host of Victoria craft beer tours currently on offer. For the sake of brevity, I’ve elected to dedicate an entire article to Brewery Tours of Canada’s craft beer capital. So, if you’re interested in taking an exciting Victoria craft beer tour, I’d highly encourage you to check out the article by clicking the link below:

Related: The Top Victoria Brewery Tours



Looking to explore Victoria’s culinary landscape? Sample the cuisine of Victoria’s best restaurants on one of our Victoria food tours.

Ready to pop the lid off the Victoria Craft Beer scene?

Victoria’s craft beer and cider scene is a must-visit for any beer or cider lover. With its wide range of flavours and styles, charming atmosphere, and accessibility, it’s the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned beer and cider enthusiast, a tour of Victoria’s craft breweries is sure to delight your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

Bottoms up 🙂

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