Forget afternoon tea. In Victoria, B.C., a group of brewmasters have introduced afternoon ale. How have they lured Victoria's citizens away from their tea cozies and crumpets? By brewing up some of Canada's most flavorful, inventive beers and serving them in one-of-a-kind, often historic, locations. Visitors can experience several of these beer temples in a single day along the Ale Trail. More a connect-the-dots tour of Victoria's best breweries than an actual road, the trail offers the path of least resistance to beervana. At each stop, you'll tumble out of the chauffeured van and into a tasting room for generous samples of everything from dark porters to lemony hefeweizens, as well as specialty brews like Ginseng Creme Ale and Great Canadian Maple Wheat Beer. For those wondering who put the bock in Hermannator Ice Bock, the brewers are on hand to explain their craft. They'll also lead you, Willy Wonka-style, through their breweries, digging out handfuls of fresh malt for you to taste, encouraging you to poke your head into the giant copper kettles, and demystifying such terms as wort and mash. The art of beer and food pairing is also a delicious part of the tour, with everything from smoked meats to homemade chocolate provided for tasting. At the end of the day, you'll find yourself at one of the brewpub restaurants for a hearty dinner, each course served with a different beer. By the time you pile back into the van, everyone but the driver may be singing an off-key version of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." Half- and full-day tours are offered the third Saturday of each month. For rates and more information, call (250) 658-5367.
Photography by Eising/Foodstock
This article was first published in May 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.