Location: Rock Bay District (Victoria)
Year Opened: 1984
BC Beer Award Wins: 2013 – BEST IN SHOW (Hermannator Ice Bock)
Canadian Beer Awards Wins: 2015 – North American Style Lager (Islander), North American Style Dark Lager (Hermann’s)
Rank in Greater Victoria: 15th place (out of 15)
Rank in Southwestern B.C.: 72nd place (out of 77)
Vancouver Island Brewery had an OK thing going. Having opened in the 80’s, it had a decades-long head start on the craft beer trend, carving out a niche for itself as the go-to alternative to the big brewers for anyone living on the island. Throughout the years they grew into a dependable brand on the backs of staples like Piper’s Pale Ale and well-known seasonals like the Hermannator Ice Bock. But eventually dependability can start to look more like staleness, especially as newer breweries like Phillips, Driftwood and Hoyne started gaining a big following.
Sensing an opportunity for change, the brewery was sold to a new owner, formerly of Muskoka Brewing in Ontario, in a friendly acquisition in June 2016. The new owners brought in a new CEO (formerly of Steamworks) and the promise of change was in the air: a new tasting room, new beers, new branding, and a new attitude. Almost a year on from the overhaul, none of those new directions appear to have been for the better.
The redesigned tasting room is a cavernous space where tasters are served one at a time in glasses barely larger than a shot. While test batches of the new beers were quite good, they’ve been underwhelming when mass produced. Nothing stands out or demands a repeat visit. Overall, the “new” VIB represents an unfortunate missed opportunity, with the warm nostalgia of yesteryear replaced by a mediocre sheen that could be replicated at any brewery in the country.
In summary and conclusion:
Quality: 9.7/20 (72nd)
Standout: 2.8/5 (56th)
Diversity: 4.5/10 (69th)
Innovation: 1.3/5 (73rd)
Experience: 5.6/10 (67th)
TOTAL: 23.9 (72nd)
Next in Greater Victoria/Southwest B.C.: Twa Dogs
Categories: Brewery Rankings