Vancouver Island Brewery is one of the first craft breweries that I fell in love with when I moved to Victoria. Sadly, over the years my interest in them waned as I wandered off to other breweries because I felt like they had begun to play it safe and rarely took risks. I’d started to see them in the same light as Granville Island, Turning Point, and Okanagan Springs before they got taken over by corporations.
Though don’t get me wrong, the Hermannator Ice Bock has always been beyond legit!
Then a few months ago the brewery got new management who started to freshen things up a bit. One of their first new releases after the takeover was their Killer White IPA, which was a good attempt at a white IPA and featured Galaxy hops; however, it had a touch too much coriander. Then they re-branded their Storm Watcher winter lager as a red pilsner, which is a serious improvement. I’m not sure why they didn’t give it a new name though, as I feel this might confuse people.
The brewers even have a new pilot system to make custom kegs for the growler station and experimental brews. This is a very good sign of the direction the new management wants to go.
The newest release is their 19 IPA, which is named after Vancouver Island’s highway 19. Now it might seem odd to get excited over yet another IPA when every brewery has one, but this is VIBs first one in many years, aside from the Killer White, which is really a hoppy wheat beer.
Bottle: 650 ml
The beer pours out a light amber with a decent white head and little lacing
The nose is citrus with grapefruit and melon aromas prominent. It smells refreshing and summery.
The first sip reveals that this is a lighter IPA. The IBU isn’t stated, but I would imagine it to be on the lower end of the scale. There is little hop bitterness present, but the citrus qualities of the Centennial, Ahtanum and Mosaic hops really shine through. It’s quite thirst-quenching and quaffable. At first I was surprised they kept the ABV so low, but this is so drinkable that I guess they didn’t want people getting off their heads after a few pints.
This is no Fat Tug, or Hop Circle, or Filthy Dirty, so serious hop heads may feel let down. The taste reminds me strongly of the new Steamworks Flagship IPA, for which they just won best-in-show at the B.C. Beer Awards. It seems to be a movement right now to create these lighter IPA that aren’t quite ISAs, but more like double pale ales. I tend to like a bit more hop presence and a higher ABV, but I can appreciate the fact that VIB has done a good job here and this will have great mass appeal.