Year Opened: 1989
BC Beer Award Wins: 2017 – BEST IN SHOW (Oktoberfest Flammenbeer w/ White Sails), 2015 – Strong Ale (Legacy Ale)
Canadian Beer Awards Wins: 2013 – Barley Wine Style Ale (Legacy Ale)
Rank in Greater Victoria: 6th place (out of 15)
Rank in Southwestern B.C.: 29th place (out of 77)
Located next to Victoria’s Chinatown, Swans is a brewpub attached to a heritage hotel that overlooks the Inner Harbour, with all the lived-in quaintness you expect from Victoria. As a brewery, it’s one of the older options on the list, having been established in 1989.
But cast aside assumptions you have about being a stodgy brewpub with dated offerings: we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of beer at Swans, with a beer selection that often feels like they’re just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, in a good way (Their description on the BC Craft Brewers Guild says that “the brewery has recently taken on the focus of brewing mostly one-time beers available only in the pub”).
Head brewer Chris Lukie, formerly of Lighthouse, keeps up a diverse list of options, at least one of which will greatly please you. For one of us, it was the London wit, for another, a double malt double IPA, for another, the Berry Ale — nothing to our tastes was amazing, but virtually everything was above replacement level, and you’ll get a different mix each time you visit.
Their food is also pretty decent, and there is a liquor store attached to it, which is never a bad thing. Swans is a place you imagine your “cool” aunt and uncle would go on a night out with their friends, which makes it quite a good time if you can let go of pretensions, belt out the words to “American Pie”, and drink a beer named after former Fernie MLA Tom Uphill.
Quality: 13.4/20 (36th)
Standout: 3/5 (45th)
Diversity: 6.9/10 (21st)
Innovation: 2.8/5 (33rd)
Experience: 7.4/10 (18th)
TOTAL: 33.5 (29th)
Categories: Brewery Rankings