Vancouver Island Brewing, founded in 1984, has a new look and new beers which it hopes will win new customers.
It is one of BC’s oldest craft breweries, but Vancouver Island Brewing had been struggling to compete with the new kids on the block. Many thought the brewery would be taken over by a major conglomerate, but instead it was announced in summer 2016 that Bob McDonald (who previously revived the flagging Muskoka Brewery in Ontario) had bought it.
This month marks the official relaunch. The brewery’s new branding has been unveiled and, more importantly, so have the new beers. Out seven beers, three are revamped versions of popular VIB products, while four are completely new entities.
Piper’s Pale ale has kept it’s name, while Hermann’s Dark Lager has become 48 Dark Lager and SeaDog Amber Ale is now Carmanah Amber Ale. All three have new recipes. Entirely new are the 19 IPA, the Juan de Fuca Cerveza (a Mexican lager), the Sombrio Citrus Session Ale and the Victoria Lager (a German lager).
The brewery’s team (a combination of old hands plus players from Parallel 49 and Central City) has had their work cut out for them over the past few months, maintaining production throughout while also working towards the relaunch and its new brews.
As part of that work, the brewery itself was completely renovated and the company invested in a centrifuge. The centrifuge eliminated the need for filtering, allowing for more flavour in the beers and meaning that all beers will be vegan.
As well as the centrifuge, VIB has bought a new, more efficient grain mill and a state-of-the-art Gruber Growler Filler — the first of its kind in Canada. Although it has lots of new equipment, the brewery has remained in the same downtown Victoria location (2330 Government Street).
Marketing Manager Chris Bjerrisgaard emphasises how wholesale the changes have been, likening the process to “tearing everything down to the studs.” Taking Piper’s Pale Ale as an example, he says “It drifted so far away from its original intentions over the years,” and hence needed a renewal.
You can find the new beers in VIB’s tasting room as well as in liquor stores across BC. The bright new branding will certainly catch your eye in stores.
VIB’s new slogan is “Where next?” and it will be interesting to see what this team does next.