Tucked into Vancouver Island’s southern west coast, Sooke is a small community that’s big on flavour.
While only about 40 minutes from downtown Victoria, the inviting town feels a world away, perfectly positioned between the Pacific Ocean and densely forested hills.
Is it any wonder this wild landscape is an inspiration for brewers and distillers alike?
We sipped our way through the local specialties across several visits. To sample and explore safely, be sure to make a transportation plan before you start.
On the way into town, Sooke Oceanside Brewing – or S.O.B. – is an unassuming craft brewery attached to a market and gas station, but it’s been hand-crafting delicious brews since 2016. Stop by to explore locally inspired pours like Renfrew Red Ale, Leechtown lager and Saseenos session ale at their hand-built tasting room.
In the town of Sooke, turn right on Otter Point Road to discover the award-winning Sooke Brewing Company – a brewery for this place on the wild West Coast. In a tasting room that pays homage to the region’s logging and fishing history, pull up a stool overlooking the working part of the brewery, or relax on the patio and sample a flight of the diverse offerings, from a summer-perfect small saison to the barrel-aged foreign extra stout, aged for four months in Four Roses bourbon barrels to add complexity and smoothness to this deceptively strong beer.
Across West Coast Road, discover Sheringham Distillery coastal craft spirits. Named for a point of land a little farther up the coast road in Shirley, these are small-batch handmade spirits made with BC ingredients. Sip and sample Seaside Gin – “citrus, floral and notes of the sea make our Gin as refreshing as a seaside stroll” – or come fall, warm your morning with Sheringham’s Coffee Liqueur, “born out of our love for all things java related as well as our neighbours in Sooke,” including locals’ go-to for their morning coffee, the Stick in the Mud café.
A special treat this past summer was the distillery’s Rhubarb Gin, tangy and full of flavour.
Turning your attention a little farther out of town, two more stops are musts on your West Coast flavour tour.
Behind Bad Dog Brewing Company’s colourful labels and so-fun logo are a fine selection of beers from the family-owned and operated micro brewery, located on a rural property about 10 minutes’ drive outside Sooke. Pick up your tasting flight at the take-out window and relax under twinkle lights to sip your way through these tasty West Coast pours with names like Dog’s Breakfast Anniversary Ale, Dizzy Dogs Double IPA and Octodog Apocalypse Squid Ink Stout.
Nearby, discover the modern possibilities of an ancient libation at Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & Meadery, also about 10 minutes outside Sooke.
British Columba’s first meadery, Tugwell Creek bottles meads handcrafted from their own Wildflower Honey. Their eclectic lineup of beverages ranges from Kilt Twister Meed, a dry, beer-like mead crafted from honey, heather and hops, to Harvest Methomel, an off dry mead made with Wildflower Honey and a blend of berries from the farm, and a past silver-medal winner at the Northwest Wine Summit.
Currently welcoming guests on the tasting patio, when COVID protocols allow, a small museum area and inside tasting room offer additional insight into this traditional drink.
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