by Kristen Gill
Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur, tea lover or craft beer devotee, you’ll want to savor these flavors as you bike your way through Victoria’s booming brewing scene.
Victoria, well known for its culinary delights and craft brews, is also recognized as Canada’s cycling capital. In recent years, the city expanded its dedicated bike lanes to make it super easy and safe to traverse the city on two wheels. You’ll be salivating as you cycle from breweries to tea houses to coffee shops and beyond.
To get started, rent a bike from The Pedaler, within walking distance of the Parliament Building. The Pedaler offers self-guided cycling tours with maps for the independent explorer. Better yet, take one of their guided tours and learn about the local history and culture along the way.
The Hoppy Hour is a moderately-paced guided tour lasting about three hours and covering roughly six miles of biking. En route, you’ll visit three of Victoria’s top-rated microbreweries to enjoy a tasting session of four pours each.
Our tour brought us to family-owned and operated Lighthouse Brewing Co., where we enjoyed the tastes of Nightwatch Coffee Lager and Strawberry Rhubarb Wheat Ale.
The next stop was Moon Brewing, where we sampled the Creepy Uncle Dunkel Dark Munich Lager, with its strong notes of chocolate, biscuit and caramel.
Our final stop at Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. had us enjoying the Glitter Bomb Pale Ale, brewed with heaps of west coast hops and notes of pineapple, passionfruit and guava. Phillips is one of the only brewers in Canada who malt their own barley.
All three breweries have patios for outdoor tasting and brewers who are happy to chat in detail about what goes into the brewing process and the flavors of each beer. Whether you’re into dark stouts, hoppy IPAs or fruity sours, you’ll surely find a brew to satisfy your palate’s preference.
For a self-guided bike-n-brew tour, cruise up Front Street, a spacious bike lane with racks where you can lock up your bike and explore the street’s many artisan craft shops, bakeries, and chocolatiers.
Stop in at European-style Crust Bakery, featuring an outstanding coffee and tea service, French baguettes, doughnuts, cookies, and their signature raspberry, lychee and rosewater pastry. It’s so popular that oftentimes there’s a line out the door, but you can order ahead and pick up your order at the window. Everything is made in-house from scratch, using the finest ingredients, with plenty of delicious gluten-free options.
Another great coffee shop is Hey Happy on Johnson Street, where you’ll find great coffee in a creative, relaxed ambiance. For a twist on the usual, try their root beer latte made from roots, herbs and spices or the iced Dirty Horchata. There are lots of vegetarian drinks and food options, as well.
If it’s tea you’re after, bike along the Inner Harbour to the Pendray Tea House on Belleville Street. Relax in this historic mansion as you enjoy High Tea while overlooking the gorgeous garden and harbor views. Victoria has always had strong ties to Britain, and this unique British tea experience features an assortment of fine teas from around the world and sweet and savory bites served on elegant china.
In the evening, point your bike towards Vista 18 Westcoast Grill & Wine Bar, Victoria’s only rooftop restaurant and bar with panoramic city and ocean views and impeccable service. Choose a local wine from one of the nearby vineyards, a region affectionately known as “Canada’s Provence.” Both Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Averill Creek Estate Winery are good choices from Vancouver Island.
Or make a pit stop at The Courtney Room for fresh-shucked oysters and a glass or bottle of wine from their impressive wine vault. Stay for one of Chef Brian Tesolin’s inspired dishes made from local ingredients from Vancouver Island’s Square Root and Littlest Acres farms.
So, next time you’re in Victoria, check out these tasting trails by bike. You won’t be disappointed.
Reserve your bike tour at The Pedaler, thepedaler.ca. Plan your Victoria visit at tourismvictoria.com.