Micro-brewery tasting tour by sail in Gulf Islands, B.C.
Beer aficionados and cultural travelers note: B.C.'s foremost brewing historian leads 5-day gourmet beer tour of B.C. craft breweries and islands by sail
For a twist on the typical beer tour, join B.C.'s Tall Sails & Ales Cruise and discover the rich flavours and colourful history of the province's micro-brewing industry.
Arguably as diverse as wine in their flavours, the 50 fine beers included on this tasting tour introduce you to the range of options, from the crisp, cold Swans' Arctic Ale to the chocolate creaminess of Gulf Islands Brewery's Saturna Island Extra Stout.
Add to that the guidance of B.C. brewing experts, succulent food prepared to match the brews, and the spectacular beauty of sailing the Gulf Islands and you've got a world-class tour.
There is plenty to satisfy the educated beer aficionado as well as the traveler interested in local culture and nature.
On this 5-night or 6-night cruise under the sails of the historic tall ship Maple Leaf, you will sample the best micro-brews of B.C. and visit breweries that range in size from a luxe brewpub to a bucolic Gulf Islands brewery housed, suitably, in a barn-like building.
You'll sample the local cuisine (some infused with beer flavour) prepared by the onboard chef. (Samples include cheddar and ale soup, cream ale apple fritters, Salt Spring Island lamb, and stout brownies.) And you'll learn about the islands' history and do some wildlife viewing.
Tour Highlights include:
- Special tasting tours with brewmasters, not available to the general public
- A full range of flavours through sampling 50 B.C. micro-brews, many of them award-winning
- Chef-cooked meals of local cuisine matched to the brews
- Conversations over a beer with historian and guide Greg Evans, about brew types, brewing history, pairing food and beers, the "unbuttoned" social history of drinking on Vancouver Island, local prohibition lore, and more
- Experiencing the natural beauty of the Islands, with visits to spring wildflower meadows, shell beaches, rainforests
- Visiting wildlife hot spots most people can't access, including places popular with porpoises, sea lions and seabirds
- Local history and nature talks by experts
- Sailing the 92-foot tall ship Maple Leaf in the Gulf Islands
- Personalized service and camaraderie with a small group of guests
- An extensive resource booklet crammed with tasting notes, historical anecdotes, collectibles and more
Inspiration for this beer tour trip, now entering its 3rd season, sparked when Evans and Maple Leaf Adventures collaborated on a special beer (by Victoria's Canoe Brewpub), to commemorate the schooner Maple Leaf's centennial in 2004.
"The beer culture and the craft brewing movement in BC are very strong, with some of the finest products and brewers in Canada," says Evans. "Like our American cousins along the Pacific Coast, craft brewers in BC tend to like 'bigness' in their beers - that is, a tendency to more hops, more body and products with a big, rich head.
"While they show high regard for the more traditional styles of beer, they also like to experiment and have produced diverse beers that include hemp, chipotle and hazelnut - in other words, they are both respectful of our brewing heritage and innovators at the same time."
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