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Archive for the category “Vancouver Island Brewery”

Leapbeer Review #331 Dough Head Gingerbread Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery

I originally had planned to do this review in conjuncture with my wife and daughters gingerbread house day. I thought it would make for a great picture. Alas I missed out on my window for pictures, and someone got a bit hungry. My fault, at least they didn’t drink the beer.

When 5 yr olds attack!Apparently someone got a bit hungry before I could take the pic with the beer.

When 5 yr olds attack!
Apparently someone got a bit hungry before I could take the pic with the beer.

While I’m a proven fan of the rejuvenated bomber line from Vancouver Island Brewery this beer didn’t pique my interest. I’ve had a hit and miss relationship with winter beers. And when I think of a gingerbread beer it seemed wrong. I was expecting this beer to be overly sweet and overly spicy and generally over the top. I’m glad to report that it isn’t. This reddish amber ale has all the ginger and spice aroma that I was expecting. But when you drink it, it isn’t overly sweet. It tastes like a carbonated gingerbread house. If you’re looking for a hair burning ginger sting, don’t look at this beer, but if you’re looking for a gently flavoured seasonal this is a great choice.

Leapbeer #331 is Dough Head Gingerbread Ale

Dough Head Gingerbread Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery

Dough Head Gingerbread Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery

Brewery: Vancouver Island Brewery, Victoria BC
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/5.5% ABV
Availability: Wide Release in BC
Website: http://www.vanislandbrewery.com/default.aspx?PageID=1053
Other Reviews: Ian Lloyd (@left4beer), Mikes Craft Beer Blog, Parting Glass Beer Blog, Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

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Leapbeer Reviews #315-319 A Cornucopia of Phillips Brau

Another in my list of compressed reviews is me catching up with some of the seasonals by Phillips Brewing Company. My lazy blogging has left me with quite the back log of Vancouver Island craft beers to cover, but all that is changing. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that I have been covering multiple beers per post during the month of December. I was almost 90 back from my 366 goal when December started, but I’m catching up. Enough of the ‘mea culpa‘, lets get on to the beer.

I assembled quite the line up of beers to taste, but I included one from leapbeer’s past. Here’s the tasting line up

The Selection of Phillips Brewing Company BeersAlso a Flying Tanker as a reference beer for a White IPA style

The Selection of Phillips Brewing Company Beers
Also a Flying Tanker as a reference beer for a White IPA style

First up was a head to head comparison of White IPAs. I managed to pry one final Flying Tanker out of VIB Rob’s stash to use as a benchmark to compare the Phillips offering against. If you didn’t read my review of the Flying Tanker White IPA you can read it here. But to sum up, I loved it. It was beer of frankenstein-ish make up that it both confounded and pleased my taste buds. I’m breaking my reviews down to the three critera system I used in the post about beer cellaring. They’ll be examined by Appearance, Aroma and Taste.

Appearance
Flying Tanker: Dark Gold and cloudy with a tall pillowy white head
Electric Unicorn: Cloudy and golden, almost a sun yellow gold colour. Thin white head present.

Aroma
Flying Tanker: Slightly piney, some  citrus hop notes. Hefeweizen yeast characteristics as well (cloves and banana type aromas)
Electric Unicorn: Big time hops, pines and citrus. Hints of orange groves. A bit of a bready or biscuit type aroma as well.

Taste
Flying Tanker: A bolder flavour profile from previous tanker tastings. A strong bold IPA wrapped in a fluffy hefeweizen coat.
Electric Unicorn: Thin and smooth. Very easy drinking. Lots of hops bitterness to it, tastes more IPA than white IPA

My overall thoughts about the Electric Unicorn are that it was a very tasty beer. I tried it earlier in the year and really didn’t enjoy it. That was why I got the flying tanker to do a side by side with since I loved that beer so much. The age hasn’t been that good for the Tanker, which is to be expected. Hefeweizens or those made with that yeast strain are meant for consuming, not aging. The age, however, was a good thing for the Unicorn. I think it made it a more palatable. I kind of missed the window to showcase the Electric Unicorn during its sale period, and for that I apologize.

Leapbeer #146 is Flying Tanker White IPA and Leapbeer #315 is Electric Unicorn White IPA

Vancouver Island Brewing Flying Tanker & Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA

Vancouver Island Brewing Flying Tanker & Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA

Brewery: Phillips Brewing Company of Victoria BC
Released: August 28th, 2012
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/6.5% ABV
Availability: None
Purchased @:
Merecroft Village Liquor Store
Other Reviews: Ian Lloyd (@Left4beer), Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

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Leapbeer Reports – Cellaring Beer

There have been several blog posts about cellaring beer in the craft beer crew, so what can I hope to add another to the mix. Beeradvocate gave us a very thorough explanation about how to store beer, and which beers are good for it. Vancouver based beer blogger, Barley Mowat, has done something extrememly similar (but he adds pictures). Vancouver Island beer blogger allum (although I grimace as I say that, I’m not even in his league let alone the same court) Ian Lloyd, aka Left4Beer took his kick at this same can too. (Note: To view these posts I’m referring to please click the links embedded in their names)

The reason I chose to toss my hat into this ring was because it was a completely unheard of concept to me one year ago. I, like many out there, thought old beer = bad beer. I mean obviously beer is meant to be drank as soon as humanly possible (unless of course you think I’m encouraging drinking in the store or in your car on the way home. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!) I should say, consumed as soon as reasonably possible.

Not quite what I mean by aging your beer (photo from agefotostock.com)

Why do beer geeks the world over choose to shell out top dollar for “fancy-pants brews” (pending TM) just to let them sit in a cellar until they can’t hold out any longer. Quite simply put, because it *can* make them better. I say can, because generally cellaring beer is saved for many styles, but not for others. Something like a fresh hopped beer is best consumed fresh. Even any dry hopped beer should be consumed as soon as possible, as those hop characteristics really diminish with time. Where aging beer really shines (in my limited opinion) is when it comes to high test stouts, bocks and sours. The rule of thumb I’ve heard is ‘If it’s at or over 9% ABV, it will age well”. I’ve spent some of this year collecting different beers and adding them to my cellar. Some of which I’ve tasted during the course of this year, but most of which I haven’t.

Another interesting ‘journey’ beer lovers are known to do is what is called a ‘Vertical Tasting’. As you may have guessed you have the various years of one beer and taste them to examine the nuances, changes and journey the beers have gone through. Recently left4beer and Jeff Kendrew did a three year vertical tasting of the same beer I chose to examine cellaring.

I devised a test to examine what cellaring beers actually does. I took two bottles of Hermannator Ice Bock by Vancouver Island Brewery, one from 2011 (a gift from a co worker Michelle, Thanks!) and one from 2012. The 2011 bottle has been aging in my ‘cellar’ (aka a stack of beer boxes in my downstairs closet) over the course of the hear. Hopefully this 9.5% ABV eisbock (or Ice Bock) style beer will have changed some. I’m going to use similar styled glassware (tulip/snifter) with a similar approximate six ounce pour.  I’ve got three criteria I’m going to be judging these beers on, Appearance, Aroma and Taste. Then I’ll divulge my overall thoughts of these two beers. Bear in mind that the batches may have some differences in the brew, but the recipe is very close from year to year. I served these beers directly from my cellar, meaning they’re between 10-12 degrees Celsius. Here’s the combatants.

2011 (left) & 2012 (right) Hermannator Ice Bock by Vancouver Island Brewery

2011 (left) & 2012 (right) Hermannator Ice Bock by Vancouver Island Brewery

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Leapbeer Reviews #307-310 The Vancouver Island Brewery Pod Pack

This next set of beers that I’m covering in the leapbeer blog is the Pod Pack from Vancouver Island Brewery. It seems like this beer mixer is one that I regularly pick up. It has a nice assortment of beers and is pretty available on Vancouver Island.

There are two iterations of this mixer, the summer and winter Pod Pack. Both packs include three of the same beers, Pipers Pale Ale, Sea Dog Amber Ale and Hermann’s Dark Lager. The difference between the two is in the Summer it includes the Spyhopper Honey Blonde Ale, whereas the in the winter they have the new winter seasonal Storm Watcher Winter Lager.

Vancouver Island Pod Pack Beers

Vancouver Island Brewery Pod Pack Beers

First up is the summer inclusion, the Spyhopper Honey Blonde. In case you didn’t notice it, there’s a bit of a theme with a few of the Vancouver Island Brewery beers. They have an Orca whale on their logo, the pack is called a Pod (aka a grouping of whales) Pack, and this beer is named after a type of whale surfacing behaviour, Spyhopping.

This is a clear golden coloured beer with a thick head that dissipates over time. It has a lovely honey and malty aroma. It is a not-overly sweet beer with some nice bitter notes. It is lighter fare, and super easy drinking.

Leapbeer #307 Spyhopper Honey Blonde

Spyhopper Honey Brown

Spyhopper Honey Brown

Size/ABV: 341ml Bottle/5.0%
Webpage: http://vancouverislandbrewery.com/default.aspx?PageID=1008

One cool thing with the Spyhopper Honey Brown, a friend of ours who does handmade soap actually makes one with this beer with oats and hops. You can see her stuff at the facebook page for Quadra Island Soaps.

Spyhopper Honey Blonde Soap with Spyhopper, Oatmeal & Hops

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Leapbeer Review #261 Storm Watcher Winter Lager by Vancouver Island Brewery

So yesterday I was down in Victoria to help a relative move, and it just so happened that there was also a cask event for BC Craft Beer month at the Beagle Pub featuring Vancouver Island Breweries new winter seasonal, Storm Watcher Winter lager. This replaces the Beachcomber in their line up. Because I had it on cask I didn’t have a bottle to put it up against so here’s art from their website, along with their notes.

With the ocean mist glistening in the air, huge swells rolling in from the mighty Pacific and the fury of the gales howling it must be storm season. Much like the storms of the West Coast, our Winter Lager rolls in with notes of caramel and finishes with a crash of malt. Pouring a warm amber-red, this lager combines honey, caramel and crystal malts to create a thirst quenching and slightly warming beer perfect for our winter storms.

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Leapbeer Review #246 Iron Plow Harvest Märzen by Vancouver Island Brewery

My last beer review, the Paulaner Munchen Oktoberfest Bier, impressed me so much that I wanted to cover a couple of other oktoberfest inspired beers. This next one, the Iron Plow Harvest Märzen, is one of them. This bomber is the second of a resurgence of bombers for Vancouver Island Brewery. You may remember the last one they did was the Flying Tanker White IPA. This new one starts a new series of bombers, their seasonal series, and this is bomber #1 from it.

For more history on the märzen style of beer, märzen means March, as in the month of. According to wikipedia

Märzen has its origins in Bavaria, probably before the 16th century. A Bavarian brewing ordinance decreed in 1539 that beer may be brewed only between 29 September and 23 April. The original Märzen was described as “dark brown, full-bodied”. The beer was often kept in the cellar until late in the summer, and remaining bottles were served at the Oktoberfest. In order to last so long, either the original gravity and alcohol were increased or the hopping was strengthened.”

For a bit more history on Märzen, check out these blog links from The Parting Glass & The Year in Beer.

I originally had this beer at The Great Canadian Beer Festival last month. To be honest, when I had it there I was unimpressed. I had some serious trepidation about buying it again and trying it at home. I’m really glad that I did because my opinion has gotten adjusted considerably. My thoughts on this beer now are pretty straight forward. It is delicious. When I opened this bottle it had a really nice malty sweet and almost apricot smell to it. It pours into your glass as a nice deep amber colour. The thick frothy white head on top dissipates, but their is a whole lot of bubbles still in the beer. As noted in The Parting Glass blog post, don’t expect a great hop note on this beer, just enough to balance out the sweet malty goodness. Each sip washes a nice array of flavours over your tongue, but they are gone almost as fast. It doesn’t linger with you. Instead it begs to be drank again. I think this would make for a wicked session beer, even at 5.8%. I could see several pints disappearing fairly easily from this beer. If only I had a 1L bottle I’d have used my giganto-mug from the Paulaner. If I were to compare it to yesterdays beer, the ‘Official  Oktoberfest Bier’ by Paulaner Munchen, I’d say this brew is its equal. Highly quaffable with some lovely malty sweetness. A nice balance of carbonation, and a very easy finish. I know that only 6 beers are classifiable as ‘Official’ but this one is up to the task. I am continually impressed with the new Brewers Batch from Vancouver Island Brewery. I can’t wait to see what they’ll think of next.

Leapbeer #246 is Iron Plow Harvest Märzen

Brewery: Vancouver Island Brewery of Victoria, BC
Released: September 2012
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/5.8% ABV
Availability: Limited Release
Purchased @: BC Government Liquor Store
Webpage:
http://vancouverislandbrewery.com/default.aspx?PageID=1049
Other Reviews: http://partingglassblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/what-the-heck-is-marzen-and-why-you-need-to-try-it/ & http://barleymowat.com/2012/10/01/october-beer-of-the-month/

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Leapbeer Field Trip – Great Canadian Beer Festival 2012

Great Canadian Beer Festival

With a name like that it has to be good right? While this year was the 20th iteration of GCBF, this was my first. It was also not likely my last. I had tonnes of fun sampling beers here, and the brewers came out to impress at almost every booth.

Learning from lessons of Hopoxia I started the day right, my sister and I had a plan. I avoided drinking anything other than water with the intention of getting my body super hydrated before the event. We went to Spinnakers and had some heavy food to sit in our stomach and help stabilize us for the days frivolities. I had the pulled pork nachos and she had the poutine. All loaded up with a nice heavy meal we hopped in a cab and made our way to the Royal Athletic Park for GCBF.

First thing I noticed, was the gigantic line up to get inside. It was not one, not two, but three blocks long. What I really should have done is register the blog for reporter access because they were allowed in an hour early. Oh well, live and learn I guess.

Welcome to GCBF, Prepare to wait

Another note about entering the event, is that we had our water bottles confiscated, which was a real bummer. One of my plans was to remain hydrated during the event so as no need to quaff the beer so fast. I wanted to enjoy the frothy goodness. The security at the event told me that this was due to people using their bottles for the beer instead of the designated drinking glasses. They did have some water available to drink, but because it was a really hot day and the water coolers weren’t plugged in it was all piss warm by the time I went to drink it. I was able to retrieve my bottle on our way out of the venue so it wasn’t all bad.

As you check in, they scan your ticket, take your water bottle, look through your backpack, give you a map and a 4oz drinking glass. Finally through security and then where do you head? For tokens of course. Drink tokens were 1.25$ a piece, the most you could grab is a bag of 16 for $20. My sister and I both grabbed one of them and set off to the brews.

First stop, Lighthouse Brewing. You may ask yourself why I would go to a local brewery when there were fifty four other breweries to see? Because I’m trying to be a Vancouver Island craft beer completist. They had a cask offering of a Sazerac Saison.

Sazerac Saison by Lighthouse Brewing

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Leapbeer at HOPoxia

As many of my readers will know I attended my first Beer event ever last Saturday night. It was … interesting. Rather than delve upon the entirety of the events I will fill you in on who brought what, or what I remember. Whom I didn’t sample (because I purposefully avoided a couple of beers) and whom I really liked. Of the brewers I sampled all but a few of them. I tried;
Tofino Brewing’s Hoppin Cretin IPA, Russell Brewing’s Blood Alley ESB, Lighthouse Brewing’s Switchback IPA w/HOPoxinator, The Moon Under Water’s Waxing Crescent IPA, Driftwood Brewing’s  Fat Tug, Vancouver Island Brewery’s Cascadian India Dark Ale, Canoe Brewpub’s Siren Song Pale Ale, Spinnakers Brewpub’s Hoptoria IPA, Wolf Brewing’s Red Brick IPA, Parralel 49’s Hoparazzi IPA, Hoyne Brewing Co.’s Devils Dream IPA, Coal Harbour Brewing Co.’s Powell IPA, Longwood Brewpub’s Island Pale Ale, Phillips Brewing’s Hoperation Tripel Cross
I didn’t sample the following, for various reasons. Either I’ve already had their beer and didn’t want to overdo it (see lessons learned below) or their beer wasn’t favorably received by other patrons.Whistler Brewing Co. – Pink Grapefruit Ale
Howe Sound Brewing Co. – Total Eclipse of the Hop
Central City Brewing Co. – Red Racer ESB
Granville Island Brewing Co. – Cascadian Dark Ale (I think, I didn’t even go by there)
Salt Spring Island. (I don’t remember their presence, but maybe I just missed them)
My overall thoughts of the event. – The crowd was great, everyone I talked to was having a good time. I met a few people I’d only talked to on twitter and also got to hang out with some new friends as well. Everyone was there for the beer, from hardcore enthusiasts, home craft brewers, brewery professionals and everyday schmoes like myself. While the crowd was good I was somewhat underwhelmed by what some of the brewers brought to the event. Of all the brewers, only 3 did anything special. Vancouver Island Brewery had a specially made cask for the event (Cascadian India Dark Ale), The Moon Under Water Brewpub brought a brand spanking new Waxing Crescent IPA and Lighthouse had the Hopoxinator for filtering their Switchback IPA through various varietals of hops during the day. I was also intrigued at what Longwood Brewpub brought. Their Island Pale Ale is an IPA recipe using all Vancouver Island sourced ingredients, including the hops. All the other breweries brought standard release beers, many of which I’d had already. The only one of the ‘standard issue’ beers that I went back to repeatedly was the Hoppin Cretin because of its limited availability. Perhaps I had misconceptions about what other people would bring to the party, but It wasn’t just me who felt somewhat disappointed by the turn out from the beer side. We made up for it by having fun.
Leapbeer #200 is India Dark Ale by Vancouver Island Brewery (Photo Courtesy of Rob Ringma of Vancouver Island Brewery)
Leapbeer #201 is Waxing Crescent IPA by The Moon Brewpub
(picture hopefully coming soon)
Leapbeer #202 is The Hopoxinator by Lighthouse Brewery (Photos Courtesy of Joe Weibe @thirstywriter)
Here’s the varietals of hops they were using during the day (Photo Courtesy of Joe Weibe @thirstywriter)
Now on to the lessons I learned from this experience. While it was an enjoyable time I’m absolutely certain that I could have had a better time, and been more responsible at it too. Here’s the lessons I learned while out at my first big beer event.
1) Know your location. If it is going to be held in an open cement backyard of a brewery (not a bad thing) know this ahead of time and bring either a hat or loose clothing. It was so sunny and so hot out there. I’m certain the heat led me to consume a bit faster than I would have before.
2) Carefully choose your dining options for before, during and after the event. At this one which was 4 hours long, I hadn’t eaten a proper meal before hand (WRONG) I decided to get a Ghost Chili spiced hot dog from the onsite vendor (double WRONG!) and I didn’t have any plan for following the event. Choosing something during depends upon what is available, but afterwards is something that can be planned. A strong coffee and a slap in the face would’ve helped me for sure.
3) Survey the landscape and formulate a plan of attack. This is something I did do. I knew which breweries I wanted to sample first and then on. I really wanted to get in on the few special beers at the event, and I was very glad I did. VIB’s cask was the first to sell out completely if I recall, and it was in the top 3 for the event in my books.
4) Choose your service vessel well. If you lose or dirty yours ask for another one. Don’t randomly accept a graduated cylinder to drink from, even if it was passed to you by a brewer. They’re tricky to drink from, and you may (or in my case will) spill on your shirt.
5) Have an exit strategy mapped out. While it may change or things deviate a bit, set something up so that everyone gets back okay. Don’t ever think that driving away from one of these events is a good idea. EVER. Even if you plan to spend the next 3 hours after it doing laps around the block drinking copious amounts of water to wash the alcohol out of your system it is a bad idea. Cabs are cheaper than a ticket every time.
6) Bring little, so as not to lose stuff. I misplaced both my camera and my phone. Both of which were recovered (Big thank you again to Bryan at Cascadia and the staff at Phillips for that) It is really easy to put something down when you’re in the throes of an event and walk away from them. I was wrought with grief for a day worried about my camera.7) And this is an important one. Pace yourself. Even if its super hot try not to go ridiculous there. I didn’t follow by this, and ended up getting a bit stupid.

All in all I had a good time, but I could have made it better. A big thanks to Phillips (Matlock especially) for putting on the event.
For those of you wondering what happened to me when I drank from the graduated cylinder (aka the Spillinder), here’s a pic courtesy of @redhairedblond Julie Lavoie
Thanks for Reading

Leapbeer Review #192 Double Decker IPA by Vancouver Island Brewery

It’s sad to say this, but this is likely my last double decker for a while. Not because I don’t like them anymore. VIB has pulled this beer from their lineup to make room for the beachcomber summer seasonal. Change, it seems, is an unstoppable force.

A note they have on the bottle of this beer is that they use hops varieties from the pacific northwest which is nice.

I pored this amber beauty into my glass and set to work. A thin tan head forms and also leaves a nice lacing behind it as you drink. I get a nice hoppy scent on the nose, with some malty notes as well. Tastes great. Not quite a traditional style IPA, but not super aggressively hopped like switchback. It finishes crisp, making for a nice easy drinking beer. A nice balance of the hops varieties and the malty undercurrents.

You will be missed in this beer drinkers life, Double Decker. Thank you VIB for this beer, it may now be gone, but it will not be forgotten.

Leapbeer #192 is Double Decker IPA by Vancouver Island Brewery from Victoria

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Leapbeer Review #171 Cascadian Brown Ale – the VCBW 2012 Collaboration Ale

This May Vancouver celebrated Vancouver Craft Beer Week and to commemorate it, 30 of BC breweries got together to make this Collaboration Ale. The official site about it has this to say about it.

“On Friday March 30, the official VCBW Collaboration Ale was brewed at Russell Brewing in Surrey, led by Russell Brewing’s Jack Bensley and Central City Brewing’s Gary Lohin, using premium ingredients supplied by Canada Malting.

In celebration of BC’s largest craft beer festival, 30 of the province’s finest breweries banded together to create a unique Cascadian Brown Ale. This nutty, medium-bodied brew is our take on a traditional English ale with a curiously hoppy West Coast twist. It will be available during VCBW in draught and cask at participating establishments, and in 650ml bottles at leading private liquor stores throughout the Lower Mainland.

Each year, partial proceeds from the sale of VCBW’s collaboration beer are donated to a different charity. Last year, $1,294 was successfully raised for Japanese Tsunami Relief from sales of our 2011 Cascadian Dark Ale. This year we’ve tripled the batch size and hope to raise even more money for the Farmland Defense League of British Columbia.”
from http://vancouvercraftbeerweek.com/2012/official-beer/

This was presented to my by a twitter friend, John Lim Hing, on our trip to Tofino. His restaurant (Hog Shack Cookhouse) was location for one of the VCBW events in July, so congrats to you John on that. I grabbed my trusty pint glass and went to work. This beer pours to a lovely coca-cola coloured brown with a frothy beige head. It seems quite odd to me making a malty brown ale and jazzing it up with Cascade hops, but I’m intrigued as well. The taste of this beer doesn’t disappoint. It is malty, then hoppy, then crisp. The 55 IBU’s linger all on the side of your mouth. I don’t believe it was dry hopped, or at least not very much as there is very little scent from this beer. The predominant smell is malt, but even that is faint. I get a light taste of toffee and grapefruit, undoubtedly from the cascade hops coming through. The tartness really builds in your mouth. So much so that it begins as a quaffer and ends as a sipper. This beer definitely has some pucker to it, in a good way. This beer is definitely worth checking out, especially because the proceeds go to charity. I was emailed by Bryan from Cascadia Liquor stores in Victoria that they received a case of this a couple of weeks ago.

Leapbeer #171 is Cascadian Brown Ale by 30 different BC Brewers. See list below.

Here’s the list of the brewers from the official site.

  • Big Ridge
  • Big River
  • Cannery
  • Central City
  • Coal Harbour
  • Crannóg
  • Dockside
  • Fernie
  • Granville Island
  • High Mountain
  • Howe Sound
  • Lighthouse
  • Mission Springs
  • Mt. Begbie
  • Nelson
  • Parallel 49
  • Phillips
  • R&B
  • Red Truck
  • Russell
  • Saltspring
  • Spinnakers
  • Steamworks
  • Storm
  • Swans
  • Tin Whistle
  • Townsite
  • Tree
  • Vancouver Island
  • Whistler

So 5 of them were from Vancouver Island.

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