Ranking every* brewery in Greater Victoria

I: Why are you doing this?

You know what was fun last year? Ranking every brewery in Metro Vancouver.

You know what’s more fun? Expanding this silly project to all of southwestern British Columbia.


Because there are so many breweries in this part of the world now, and some are great and some are good and some should be avoided, but it’s hard to know which is which unless you have damaged your liver are a seasoned expert, and we’d like to share our expertise with you.

Because we all have arguments over which breweries are better in our fair province, and those arguments should happen on the Internet — specifically, my dumb novelty website.

Because the craft beer scene in British Columbia continues to grow and grow, and this project should grow and grow with it.

Because drinking with friends and arguing is fun.

Which is why in 2017, our group of Millennials expanded our list of breweries we reviewed and rated from the original 42 in Metro Vancouver to 77 across southwest B.C., including:

II: How are things scored?

There’s a way-too-long explanation about this project and the people behind it and the value system and all that jazz on the main landing page for this project, so I’ll try and summarize things quickly.

Each brewery is scored out of 50 points. To be eligible for the list, they need to have been opened by July 1 of the previous year, so the brewery has time to iron out its kinks and we have enough time to visit afterwards (which means Sooke Brewing Company and Bad Dog Brewing, also in Sooke, aren’t included).

People’s ratings are based on trips to the brewery where tasters are consumed, but can be modified after the fact. The five metrics are:

    • QUALITY — 20 points: how do the beers generally taste? If someone had their growler at a party, but you didn’t know the exact beer, would you mock them? (Under 10 points) Shrug your shoulders? (Exactly 10 points) Be generally positive? (Over 10 points) Endorse their choice? (Over 14 points) Try and steal their growler? (Over 17 points)
    • STANDOUT — 5 points: Do you have a favourite beer from the brewery? Do you think it’s good enough to give it a few bonus points because otherwise the quality is inconsistent? Do you want to knock it down a peg because everything is good but nothing is memorable? Here was the place to do it.
    • DIVERSITY — 10 points: How many selections do they have in the tap room? Most places have a mix of IPAs/lagers/ales, with 2-4 seasonals and signature beers thrown in … how much deviation is there from that?
    • INNOVATION — 5 points: Do they put their own spin on beers? Have they been leaders or followers in local trends? What does the company do that is different (and valuable) than others in the market?
    • EXPERIENCE — 10 points: How did you feel coming away from the tasting room? Was it fun? Had thought been put into the design and overall branding? Was sitting at the bench and enjoying the atmosphere more worthwhile than grabbing a growler (or bottle from the local liquor store) and getting out of there?

Every place has been visited at least four people. Average of everyone’s score is the total. A score below 25 is bad. A score above 32 is good. A score above 36 is very good. A score above 39 is elite.

III: Is there anything unique or weird about the Victoria brewery scene?

Yes! And you could argue it messes up our scoring model!

See, in Metro Vancouver, where this project originated, virtually everywhere is either a tasting room, where people can sit down and order flights/sleeves/pints of whatever they want to their heart’s content, or a brewpub, where you can do that, except with better food and generally worse beer.

However, Victoria’s brewery scene grew and evolved before the tasting room model really became a thing. That doesn’t matter so much for brewpubs, but it means it’s hard to compare the most popular breweries in Victoria (Phillips, Driftwood, Hoyne, etc.) with the most popular breweries in Vancouver (Parallel 49, Four Winds, 33 Acres, etc.), because while the Vancouver ones have proper tasting rooms, the Victoria ones, um, don’t.

Now, when we score the 10-point “Experience” category, we do so not comparing the experience to other breweries, but how enjoyable a visit is for what the brewery is trying to accomplish.

But if you’re trying to develop a model for assessing breweries that works across an entire province, some places will benefit and some won’t, and there are a number of Victoria breweries that probably are docked a point or two because, at the end of the day, visiting them is sort of charmless and cramped.

Remember two things: while it’s fun to debate how Good or Bad these rankings are, we hope the capsules provided give a sense to the beer enthusiast what each brewery is about. And if you’re already preparing to be upset on how this metric has slighted Victoria, it’s home to 8 of the top 35 in southwestern B.C., by our measure. That’s pretty good!

Alright, enough yammering. You’re here to read our considered opinions after hours of drinking and anguished arguing, and yell on the internet that we’re wrong. Here are all the breweries of the Greater Victoria area, ranked from bottom to top.

15 Vancouver Island Brewing 23.92
14 Twa Dogs 24.5
13 Canoe 25.25
12 Sooke Oceanside 27.5
11 Moon Under Water 28.3
10 Lighthouse 31.4
9 Spinnakers 32.58
8 Hoyne 32.81
7 Salt Spring Ales 33.13
6 Swans 33.5
5 Axe & Barrel 35.6
4 4 Mile 36.14
3 Phillips 36.75
2 Category 12 37.0
1 Driftwood 38.7

Categories: Brewery RankingsTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Michael Cameron

    I have taken the opportunity to visit virtually every brewery in southern BC – Salmon Arm to Oliver, Chilliwack to Tofino (including Gibsons and Powell River, but excluding Squamish and Whistler – 110 BC breweries in total) only a smattering of breweries that have opened since I moved from Vancouver Vernon in September have escaped my grasp – and am very much looking forward to the rest of the 77 being added to see how some of the outliers rank.

    There are a number of great breweries outside the Greater Van/Vic area that deserve to be included in any ranking. Twin City (Port Alberni), Red Arrow (Duncan), Gladstone (Courtenay), Townsite (Powell River), Bad Tattoo (Penticton), Ironroad (Kamloops) to name just a couple. And then there is the corner of Baillie and Richter in Kelowna. This place is a drinker’s delight. Within a couple blocks are 4 breweries, 2 wineries and 2 cideries. Knock yourself out. Literally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s