A couple years ago on a visit to Portland, Oregon, I got to jump on a bike and tour around the city, visiting breweries with a local beer writer on a gorgeous summer afternoon. This easily counts as one of my favourite travel experiences: cycling in the great outdoors with short stops to taste craft beer and enjoy some snacks—what could be better than that?
Recently, I dropped in on The Pedaler, a local bicycle touring company in Victoria, BC, that opened in June 2013 and offers six unique package tours as well as general bike rentals for self-guided touring. The Pedaler’s creatively named tours include Beans & Bites (focused on coffee, tea and baked goods); Castles, Hoods & Legends; Behind the Tweed Curtain; and, the one that I was most interested in, Hoppy Hour.
The Hoppy Hour tour is available daily at 1:30pm from The Pedaler’s downtown location at Crystal Garden. I rode my own bike, but Ann and Jeremy, the Australian couple I was tagging along with, were provided with comfortable urban cruiser models and helmets. The Pedaler’s manager, Christina, made sure we were all comfortable and then led us through downtown Victoria at an easy pace.
The staff at the Moon Under Water, which opened in 2011, offered us a set of taster samples of their five regular beers along with some tasty onion rings. While we sipped and snacked, our guide described the beers and talked about Victoria’s craft beer history.
Soon, we were back on our bikes for a short ride to Vancouver Island Brewery, not far away at Government and Bay. One of Victoria’s original breweries, dating back to 1984, VIB has a Beer Store and tasting room that is open to the public 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday. The brewery’s gregarious host offered up samples from the tasting bar, describing each and talking about VIB’s long history.
Before long, we were cycling back into downtown Victoria, bypassing Phillips Brewing, also on Government Street, as well as two brewpubs, Canoe and Swans, both on Store Street. I was wondering where we were headed when we stopped at the Guild Free House, a craft beer focused restaurant that opened last year, and offers a unique food menu (Bacon in a Glass, anyone?) with a diverse array of craft beers from the Pacific Northwest.
Beer-themed bicycle tours are also offered by Cycle Treks in Victoria and Cycle City Tours in Vancouver. For some more self-guided craft beer tour options, check out the Victoria Beer Mile, Craft Beer in Vancouver: Main Street and Craft Beer in Vancouver: Commercial Drive.
Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries in Victoria, BC