Originally Published March 28, 2019 | Updated January 10, 2023
Victoria may be best known for its afternoon tea and historical charm, but it’s also ground central for British Columbia’s craft beer revolution.
Beer has been brewed in Victoria longer than anywhere else in BC. This is thanks to William Steinberger, a German gent who moved to the city from San Francisco in 1859. Despite coming during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, Steinberger focused his sights on liquid gold — brewing beer to satiate the thirsty prospectors.
With the exception of Prohibition from 1916 – 1920 and a two-year span in the early 80s when the city lost its last remaining brewery, Steinberger’s legacy continues to pour throughout the fair capital. But, the real ‘craft’ began in 1984, when both Spinnakers and Vancouver Island Brewing opened.
From day one, Spinnakers brewed beer in-house and served their selection with a menu that rivaled its high-quality pours. This ‘gastropub’ mentality was the first of its kind in the city. More than three centuries later, it still remains one of the region’s top beer destinations.
When Vancouver Island Brewing opened, they focused on creating a selection of all-natural beers. Prizing quality over quantity, they were slow to grow their year-round and seasonal selections — but the result is a flavorful menu worthy of note.
Victoria is Home to More Than 13 Breweries
Today, the city is home to more than 13 different breweries and gastropubs. In addition to the founding breweries, some of the top picks include Swans Brewpub & Buckerfield Brewery. Located in Victoria’s Old Town, the heritage architecture is impressive. So too is the fact that its beers have won more than two dozen awards.
With its waterfront location, indoor and outdoor fire place, games area, and dog-friendly patio Craft Beer Market is another winner — particularly on a sunny day. Additional craft brewery selections include Hoyne Brewing Company, Moon Under Water Brewpub, and Driftwood Brewery.
However, arguably the most popular brewery in Victoria can be found in the city’s Burnside neighborhood. Phillips Brewing began in a windowless apartment. But the humble beginnings didn’t keep the founder, Matt Phillips, from flexing his creative muscles. When the brewery launched in 2001, his flavor profiles were considered ‘out of the can’ with a selection that included Espresso Stout and Raspberry Wheat Ale. Phillips continues to explore untraditional flavor profiles and finetune beloved classics.