Vancouver Island is full of areas to explore the BC craft beer scene, but while many will explore beer in Victoria, a nearby neighbour often goes sorely overlooked.
Sooke is a small town just thirty minutes outside of Victoria, right on the western coast of the island. Best known for the Sooke Harbour House, the town boasts an impressive array of craft beer, spirits and even mead. Make no mistake, size does not denote quality, as several Sooke based operations have won some impressive awards.
The next time you head over to Victoria, take a day trip out to Sooke to experience all it has to offer:
Bad Dog Brewing
Well off the beaten path, Bad Dog Brewing is worth seeking out. After driving into the middle of nowhere, for what seems like far too long, Bad Dog finally appears. The hosts, and their dogs, of this microbrewery are incredibly welcoming and are pouring some surprisingly great beers out of what is essentially a converted garage.
Grab a flight, try their red ale or one of their many IPAs, and have a seat at their outdoor picnic benches.
Sheringham Distillery is a small batch distiller producing world class gin, vodka and akvavit. When it comes to gin, you can’t do much better than Sheringham. Their signature Seaside Gin isn’t just some of the best gin in BC, it’s some of the best gin in the world; in 2019 Seaside won gold at the World Gin Awards for the Best Contemporary Gin category.
Sheringham also takes sustainability seriously and is keeping a local footprint. All their base ingredients are 100% from B.C., and they strive to keep all our other needs sourced from B.C. as well.
Sooke Brewing is the big brewery right in the centre of town, it’s hard to miss. They are one of the newer places in town, having only opened in 2017, but they have already developed a reputation for producing quality beers.
While their list is generally rotating, some of the staples include a Baltic porter, IPA, saison, blonde ale and Vienna lager. The lager is particularly crisp and clean and perfect for enjoying on the breweries front patio.
Sooke Oceanside Brewery (aka SOB)
Not to be confused with Sooke Brewing, Sooke Oceanside Brewery is the other brewery in town to bear the Sooke name. You’ll find SOB just before coming into the main area of Sooke, just off the highway beside a gas station. They focus on four core beers: a pale ale, blonde ale, red ale and IPA along with a huge number of seasonal rotations and collaborations.
They’ve won a number of awards since opening in 2015, including awards for their red ale.
Tugwell Creek Meadery
Just a short drive past Sooke is Tugwell Creek, a meadery that is a must visit. While these days mead isn’t all that popular, it is one of the oldest drinks in history. Tugwell itself has a storied history, being one of the first producers of mead in BC, so much so they were responsible for changing some of the local liquor laws to allow for mead sales.
Tugwell produces a number of different meads ranging from sweet to dry. Everything is made with their own bees and honey, and everything is organic, wild cultured and kosher.