Earlier this week I had arranged to meet a couple of other craft beer lovers, and travel to Tofino to visit Tofino Brewing Company.
We started out of Nanaimo just before noon and drove the long trek out west. It takes just under 3 hours to drive from Nanaimo to the Tofino Brewing Company site, as it is just on the outskirts of Tofino. Similar to many upstart breweries their operation is somewhat subdued on the outside. They, like any good brewery, let their product speak for them instead of flashy buildings.
Here’s a picture of their operation from the outside.
This brewery is a real beacon of hope for a sustainable and environmentally responsible business model. Not only do they recycle their spent grain to be used as farm feed in Port Alberni (A couple of hours down the road from Tofino), but they also have taken steps to be water conscious in their brewing. Water is often in short supply on the peninsula during the summer, and this crew is determined to be responsible.
A few pictures from our visit, here’s the malt chipper and hopper area leading down to the kettles. I wonder who’s motorcycle that is/was/will be?
Next is the mash tanks & kettle.
Lastly here’s their current fermenter tanks, there’s soon to be one much larger set up here.
They are in the process of some renovations. They recently rebuilt their taps and cold storage area, adding a really nicely finished tasting bar. They also have another fermenter tank ordered in which to increase their production. Also in the works is bottling which they anticipate to be up late summer. Be sure to look for that (I know I will). They have really been embraced by the local residents and establishments. The majority of their production is met by supplying the locals and their business. In fact, the only place to get their beers outside of Tofino is the Alibi Room in Vancouver. Of course with bottling that is about to change.
Now onto the beers. From left to right they are the Tuff Session Ale (Pale Ale), Reign In Blonde (“dirty” Blonde Ale) and Hoppin’ Cretin IPA. Currently their website ( http://www.tofinobrewingco.com/our-beer/ ) doesn’t have the information for the Reign in Blonde.
I am starting with the Tuff Session Ale which is a great Pale Ale. (#143 on the Leapbeer journey) It is an amber coloured pale ale that has a real nice hop bitterness to balance the malty notes of the beer. It rates at a 25 IBU on the bitterness scale and is a really great session beer. Great stuff.
Here’s what their site has to say about it. “A bright copper coloured pale ale with a toasty malt base balanced with west coast hops. Its light to medium body and clean, dry finish gives this full-flavoured ale dangerously inviting drinkability.”
Moving on to the Reign in Blonde. (#144 on the Leapbeer journey) This was announced via twitter and through the Beer on the Rock blog out of victoria here ( http://www.beerontherock.com/?p=1122 ) It is described as “A clean, crisp blonde ale w/ a light malt body and earthy, flowery hops. Pretty much a one way ticket to Cold One City.” I call it (I wasn’t the first person to do it) a ‘dirty blonde’ because it isn’t as bright as you’d expect from a blonde ale. Dave mentioned that the darkness in the ale comes from their electronic immersion element and how it cooks the beer. The taste has a very light and has a flowery hop note to it. It is lovely mild spring/summer ale made for quaffing.
Lastly I’m sampling the Hoppin’ Cretin IPA. (#145 on the Leapbeer journey) Their answer to a pacific northwest India Pale Ale.
Their write up for this beer is this “A tawny straw colored IPA with a hop forward nose that gives off an aromatic bouquet of citrus and mango. This beer has been hopped heartily at all stages of the brewing process and packs enough punch to satisfy any fan of the IPA style the West Coast has become known for in recent years. It is lighter in body with an extremely dry finish. There’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’.”
It has a 60 IBU rating making it on the bitter side, and there is a generous dose of citric hops on the nose from this beer. To sip is it to enjoy it. As you may know by now I’m a hop head. I relish the bitterness that comes from this style of beer. This offering is both strong in the floral punch of it, but is not over the top with it. When we tasted it at the brewery my sister, who is doesn’t like the bold hoppy beers, went back for seconds. Dave mentioned that he boils this brew longer than normal to give it the caramel colour as well as to smooth out the beer. I’m a fan of this beer and will definitely be seeking it out again soon.
All three of these beers shows finesse in how they are made. The batches at their brewery are small making them experiment and perfect their craft. They seem like a crew dedicated to a producing a product they themselves want to drink.
The greatest thing I took from my visit to the Tofino Brewing Company was hope. The way Dave would light up talking about their beers was reminiscent to seeing a proud parent talk about their kids. And you could really see the passion he has for not only producing a great beer, but ingenuity that he was using to create new and different beers.
A special thanks to Chris and Dave for welcoming me into your facility and giving me a peek behind the curtain. I look forward to coming back soon.
If you have a chance stop by and give these beers a taste. They have growler and growlette fill available as well as a bunch of other swag to pick up (from flannels to trucker hats to embossed glasses)