Victoria is Canada’s beer capital: 4 prominent brew pubs and 5 standalone breweries that service a few hundred thousand locals and those lucky enough to find the malty wares at the various liquor stores and pubs outside of the region. Years ago I thought the threshold had been met, and that the city couldn’t possibly handle more competition. 1 pub and 2 breweries have opened since, and I’m thrilled to have been wrong, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to get my mitts on Hoyne Brewing’s Hoyner Pilsner, one of a few beers now being produced by Victoria’s newest brewery. The brewery’s namesake, Sean Hoyne, recently split from his former employer to get into the now booming beer business for himself. I heard word of this just a few months ago, and the beers have started popping up on shelves here in Vancouver.
I’ve spent many afternoons on my favourite patio in the world drinking this man’s beer, which has always been notable for its consistency and drinkability. Each style he produced was distinct, yet approachable for all beer drinking creatures: Lager, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, ESB, and seasonal offerings like hefeweizen were all crafted this way. Occasionally he would tease the beer nerds with a strong beer, perhaps signaling that he was ready to move on. That time is upon us, and his initial release features four beers: this Pilsner, a Pale Ale, an IPA, and a Bock (which may or may not be a seasonal offering).
The only way the BC beer scene could ever feel crowded would be if it were saturated with crap, which it isn’t. Those who have entered the game in the last five years seem painfully aware of the competition taking place, and that awareness is driving quality skyward. Niches are being carved out, with certain breweries showcasing a creative knack, while others work away at perfecting the classics. As with proof and pudding, the evidence is in the glass, and I very rarely drink something I wish I hadn’t. Sean Hoyne’s brewery isn’t an example of overcrowding, but a welcome addition to the war against bad beer being fought around the world. More good is good, forget about that “too much” nonsense”.
I chose the Pilsner because a well made one is hard to find around these parts, with the lager category still dominated by the macro breweries. Available in 650ml brown bombers, it pours as a pilsner should: pure gold with a clean white head that sits around for a while. It isn’t a particularly aromatic beer, but any nose could detect hints of light, sweet malts. Where the beer truly excels is what matters most, the flavour. Right off the bat it’s bready with a sharp hop bitterness. In keeping with his track record, Hoyne’s Pilsner is well balanced and seemingly infinitely drinkable. It isn’t too intense, but interesting enough to keep reaching for it. Stylistically speaking, this beer is meant for refreshment, something the mild carbonation pushes forward. In summation, this beer belongs in the hearts of those seeking balanced, tame, well crafted beers that eschew extreme in favour of consistency and approachability. Some may be deterred by the simple nature of this beer, but it should be said that simple isn’t easy. In fact, the two words are miles apart; this Pilsner is wonderfully simple. Easy to drink, and tricky to make well. All other local Pilsner is to be measured against this beer.