Driftwood Brewery is the youngest entrant to the healthy micro-brewing movement in Victoria, BC but they have already made a splash. The brewery was co-founded by two visionaries who met while working at the nearby Lighthouse Brewing Company.  Jason and Kevin took the audacious step of following their dream right in their former employers backyard. Jason developed the basis for some of Driftwood’s offerings while tinkering around after work at Lighthouse.  They have grown faster than expected in the last year and a half, forcing earlier than planned upgrades to their bottling machine but I don’t think anyone is complaining.  Even with this success the operation is still as personal as it gets.  They have seven employees and Kevin still handles all of the brewing personally along with his apprentice Tim.


We were welcomed by the third partner Gary to drop by for a personal tour of the shop.  Arriving, we found Kevin and Tim hard at work but excited to chat and share some brews.  As Kevin cleaned out the mash tun Tim filled us in on the history and philosophy of the brewery. The core of that philosophy: “We brew the beers we love”.  Their fondness for European beers has driven them to produce some Belgian and German beers but being unconstrained by the rigid Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Laws) they have developed some interesting interpretations.  These four beers have a ton of character and are pushing the limits in a market where the customer’s tastes are less complex than the United States.  Traditional lagers still dominate the Canadian market and and micro-brews are only now growing in popularity at the rates that the US has seen for ten years.


Currently they offer four brews and just keeping up with demand has delayed the development of a wider selection.  That being said, they do produce a seasonal IPA using hops hand picked by the partners themselves!  Unfortunately, it was not available during our visit but keep an eye out for it.


Driftwood Ale - Inspired by the Pale Ales of the US Pacific Northwest this is the flagship Ale of the brewery. The hops masterfully take center stage of the brew but do not leave a bitter aftertaste.  In fact, the brew masters have added more hops to the last part of the boil of this beer over the last year and a half.  Focusing on the last period of boil gives the beer a more hops without increasing the bitterness.  This could mark a turning of the tide for Canadian brewers who have been reluctant to introduce truly hop-fuelled ales to an unappreciative audience.


Farmhand Ale - Taking the Pale Ale back to its local roots, the Farmhand Ale is a Saison, which is unique to the French speaking area of Belgium.  These seasonal ales were brewed during the harvest season as a refreshing beverage to keep farmhands hydrated. Driftwood uses a strain of yeast directly from Belgium. To add a complex ending to the brew they have thrown a bit of ground black pepper into the mix. Upon sampling the Farmhand we immediately picked up on the pepper taste, though we didn’t directly identify it as such.  Although it doesn’t sound good on paper the pepper was a wonderful complement to the beer.  Jason really hit a great note with this one.  Expect to see more breweries offering interesting Siason’s in the future.


White Bark Ale - This traditional Belgium style wheat brew has two very complimentary additions. You will vaguely taste a hint of coriander and orange peel. Increasing the intensity of the orange zest could possibly improve the already delicious brew. This, however, is not a major issue for those of us who prefer more citrus as adding a fresh slice of orange to your pint is very easy.


Crooked Coast Amber Ale - This amber is brewed in the style of the traditional German ‘alt’ ales which use top-fermenting yeast so do not require cool storage for fermentation.  This allowed the brewers to follow the Reinheitsgebot  even through the summers. This traditional style gave the Crooked Coast a malty and roasted flavor.  Jess noted hints of nut and chocolate while I was impressed with the complexity of this amber, being more accustomed to smoother interpretations.

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Founded: 2008

Location: Victoria, BC, CAN


Driftwood Ale

Farmhand Ale

White Bark Ale

Crooked Coast Amber Ale

Website: http://driftwoodbeer.com/home/