Hoyne Brewing Co.

Location: Rock Bay District (Victoria)
Year Opened: 2011
Recent BC Beer Award Wins: NA
Recent Canadian Beer Awards Wins: NA

Rank in Greater Victoria: 8th place (out of 15)
Rank in Southwestern B.C.: 34th place (out of 77)

*Rolls up sleeves*

Hoyne has an outstanding reputation in Victoria: founded in 2011 by Sean Hoyne, who spent years and years cutting his teeth at Canoe and Swans brewpubs, the brewery quickly became renowned for its Dark Matter, a somewhat malty, somewhat toasty dark ale that can be found pretty much everywhere.

Around the flagship Dark Matter, a strong roster developed: the Summer Haze Honey Hefe, a Voltage Espresso Stout, the Appleton ESB and a Vienna Amber, among others. Talk to someone from the Island, and Hoyne often gets mentioned with Phillips and Driftwood as elite breweries that evolved around the same time and are a cut above the rest.

Well, they’re wrong.

Hoyne makes a good product and has one iconic, well-distributed dark ale. But that’s not enough to be “great” within the context of British Columbia, or even Victoria itself.

There are two main reasons for this. The first is that they’re not really cranking out interesting new beers on a regular basis. Hoyne has its mainstays, most of which have been in place for over four years, and they don’t really deviate from that. Unlike most breweries in the region, they’ve opted against the trend of developing unique saisons, sours or northeast IPAs, which would be fine if they were experimenting on a regular basis or had one or two annual seasonals that got our tongues wagging.

Second, tasting rooms matter. You can argue whether they matter as much as we value them (20 per cent), but they’re the front door for over 100 breweries across British Columbia now, and Hoyne’s is very bare bones, with nowhere to stand and not a washroom to be found. This is the same as Phillips and Driftwood, yes, but it lacks the intimacy of Driftwood or the quirkiness of Phillips.

“But Dark Matter!” you cry out. And yes, it’s a great beer. Name me the second Hoyne beer that really stands out today.

None of this is to disparage what Hoyne does: they had a plan, executed it well, and the beer is good. If “is the beer good?” was the only thing that mattered to us, it would 3rd in Victoria and 17th for all of southwestern B.C.

That’s very good, and if you love Hoyne, all the power to you. But what was groundbreaking in 2013 isn’t in 2018, and we hope they’ll use their considerable talents to take another leap forward in the years ahead.

Quality: 15.1/20 (17th)
Standout: 3.9/5 (11th)
Diversity: 6/10 (38th)
Innovation: 2.5/5 (45th)
Experience: 5.25/10 (71st)
TOTAL: 32.8 (34th)

Next in Greater Victoria: Salt Spring Island Ales
Next in Southwest B.C.: Moody Ales

Categories: Brewery RankingsTags: , ,


  1. Cameron

    I spent a few years in Europe and enjoyed some of the best lagers and pilsners in the world along the way. When I moved to Victoria, it was a long quest to find a local pilsner that even approached the crisp, toasty taste (even when just slightly cooler than room temperature) that I consider to be essential for a good pilsner. Hoyne provided that in their Hoyner Pilsner. Their Helios also provides a welcome escape for anyone who needs a break from whatever trendy experimentations are going on at other breweries (raw ales, over-done dry-hopping, and sour beers, I’m looking at you). Having sampled liberally from most of the local breweries that are in Victoria proper, Helios is probably the most well-rounded ale with the greatest depth that I have come across.

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