Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
VICTORIA, B.C. — Jason Meyer’s workspace looks like a secret room in every university kid’s dream residence. It’s loaded with vats of beer and large kegs ready for tapping.
This stuff isn’t your typical dorm room kegger, though; it doesn’t taste like cardboard and you don’t want to ruin the experience with a chug.
Meyer is the co-owner of Victoria’s year-old Driftwood Brewery, and the beer he produces has already gained a reputation in Canada for being the good stuff: carefully crafted light and dark ales that you drink for the taste, not the effect. He talks with passion about the sensation of coriander and cloves in his light ale, and the citrusy flavour of his delicious White Bark wheat ale.
In Sepetember, Meyer’s work was recognized at the Canadian Brewing Awards, where Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA won Beer of the Year honours. It’s hard to find Driftwood beers outside of British Columbia — and that’s by design. Meyer is a craftsman who has no desire for distribution outside of Vancouver Island and the Greater Vancouver Area.
“I want to cap it because I want to make sure we can maintain the quality of the product,” the brewmaster said while preparing a keg of ale for my friends and me.
With the addition of Driftwood, Victoria has four microbreweries, in addition to three brewpubs that produce their own beer. Meyer, who started his career about 20 years ago in Montreal, says Victoria microbreweries find success in part because Vancouver Island is eager to support local businesses.
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Operating since 2008, Driftwood also benefits from North America’s growing craft beer industry, which continues to take market share from the mega-producers who spend more attention on their marketing initiatives than improving the taste of their beverages.
The beer industry is one of the few in which an inferior product sold for a similar price as a superior one receives more sales, but, as Meyer said, that’s changing.
Whether it’s Driftwood’s Fat Tug or White Bark, Mill Street Brewery’s excellent Tankhouse Ale, or any number of the beers from Quebec’s Unibroue (Canada’s most acclaimed small brewery and the maker of La Fin du Monde and Blanche de Chambly), it’s a no-brainer for a beer drinker, or should be. The craft beer selections have moved us far beyond the Blue, Canadian or 50 lineup we were limited to in decades past, and they’re innovating the taste and experience of beer.
As far as winning beer of the year is concerned, we are very grateful for the recognition, but acknowledge that there are a lot of great beers being brewed in this country, and that many others would also be worthy of such a prize.
Meyer says that within a decade he’d like to have Driftwood reach its maximum output and then turn his focus to creating a gastropub/bed-and-breakfast in the Victoria area that produces food from what’s on its land. With Driftwood’s rocketing success, Meyer seems on pace for his goal. He said that the brewery is running out of room and is looking to expand to a neighbouring building.
ABOUT DRIFTWOOD BREWERY
Location: 102-450 Hillside Ave, Victoria, BC
Contact: Office & Ordering (Tele: 250-381-2739; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)