Photo Credit: VanIsle.News Staff

Tour of the Taps Part 3 – The West Isle

The craft beer revolution is on fire on the West Coast of the Island

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The best places to quench your thirst on the West Isle

Port Alberni

Port Alberni

It’s official – Port Alberni has a beer scene.

Twin City Brewing Company

Michele and Aaron Colyn led the way after opening their Twin City Brewing Company on Margaret Street in 2017. As their website rightly states, the Alberni Valley “isn’t what it used to be. Our humble community is reinventing itself and finding a new identity in tourism, recreation, and a new wave of small business owners.”  A new wave of beers as well. Their roster of taps might send a Bud-drinking mill worker for the exit. But for craft brew fans, it’s a tasty selection that includes High Wire (vanilla passionfruit stout), Vanishing Act (pineapple coconut sour), Typecast (pilsner), and Tidalweizen (yup, you guessed it – wheat beer).

Their menu centres-around house-made, hand-stretched pizzas.

Dog Mountain Brewing

Robin Miles and Andy Richards left Alberta, discovered Port Alberni and an old building on 3rd Avenue that once housed a U-brew business. The location and character building, though in need of some TLC, was begging for a brewery. So after months of swinging hammers, they opened their doors in 2019 and started pouring sleeves from a quiver of suds that has grown to more than 10 taps, featuring Long Lost lager, the seasonal hazy IPA with a mouthful of a name (Leaving Tsunami Hazard Zone,)  sours and a coffee porter.

The owners are justifiably proud of their rooftop patio, where you can quench thirst and order from a menu of daily specials and some beer-pairing classics like nachos and mac n’ cheese.

Alberni Brewing Company

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

Not according to Yvan St. Onge, Heather Welsh and her partner/head brewer Jason Welsh. They were overwhelmed with community support from the city as they renovated the Adelaide Street space and brewed batches in time for a grand opening this past May.

The brewery has something for all beer tastes, whether hop-forward IPAs or light, easy drinking ales. In addition, their taps offer a range of sessionals and seasonals that includes a dunkel, lager, pilsner, sour, hazy pale and more.

The straight-ahead menu features burgers, popcorn shrimp, dry ribs, nachos, salads and bowls.

Tofino

The city has one brewery, but it has a big following

Tofino Brewing Company

Tofino without a craft brewery would be like a surfboard without wax – a  major omission. After a rough October working outside during the Tofino rainy season, the three co-founders of Tofino Brewing Company, Dave McConnell, Bryan O’Malley and Chris Neufield, figured that out.

There had to be a better way and Tuff City was past due for a brewery. They opened their doors in 2011, just as the craft beer rush of BC was catching fire. They haven’t looked back since. Beer aficionados across BC have likely cracked a 650 ml of Tuff Session Ale or Kelp Stout at least once. Located in the industrial area on the outskirts of town, this brewery is hopping any day of the week. Besides the above-mentioned flagship beers, Tofino has eight other taps, including faves like Dawn Patrol coffee porter and Spruce Tree ale.

Ucluelet

This West Coast town was late to the party, but not too late.

Ucluelet Brewing Company

Ucluelet has always existed somewhat in the shadow of its trendy sister city at the other end of Pacific Rim Highway – Tofino. Most Ukes liked it that way. The town had it all – a mellow vibe close to surf breaks and great coffee and restaurants.  

But driving to Tofino to session craft beers was getting old. So, in 2020 when Dennis Morgan opened the doors of the town’s first craft brewery, loused in the former St Aiden’s on the Hill Church, the faithful were quick to arrive.

Among the nine regular taps, the beers range from the crisp Seventh Day Kolsch to the toasty St Aiden’s porter. West Coast fare inspires the menu with items like fish cakes and poke bowl.

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