Situated right on the water overlooking the harbour of Victoria on Vancouver Island, Spinnakers has what all brewpubs strive for: good beer, good location, and good staff. The 1127 bbl. stainless steel brewhouse is visible from the main entrance of the multi-level building. Opened in 1984, the interior design stands inviting. Upholstered wooded chairs surround square and circular tables on a stone tiled floor. Brass lamp holders adorn the cream-colored walls, accompanied by dark wood doorways and trim. Overhead, the off-white painted ceiling gives a 1920's look. The second floor bar features a lounge with two dartboards, one pooltable, and dozens of small wooden tables, all with a harbour view. The subdued lighting reveals sacks of grain placed around for effect. Two silent televisions display sporting events. Two ceramic towers and five beer engine handles rise from the bar. Outside, the small patio with heaters offers a great view of the sunsets across the water and on downtown Victoria. Stairs are everywhere so wheelchair access is not practical.

A nice touch is the two separate serving temperatures for the beers: 53 and 38 F. The Copper Bock weighs in at 1074 original gravity (OG) and finishes with 8.3% alcohol by weight (ABW). With a dark amber color, the flavor is a smooth malty sweet with a slightly alcohol finish. The Jameson's Scottish Ale, 6% and 1058, is also a dark amber color, with its complex malty flavors, smooth mouthfeel and clean finish; it goes down all too well. The Ogden Porter, 5% & 1050, has a medium body, very dry but smooth dark malts character and a short dry finish. The Tsarist Imperial Stout, 7.75% & 1072, gives a creamy mouthfeel with its full body and accompanying very smooth roasted and dark malt flavors. The C&B Toasted Ale offers a hop over malt flavor balance combining crisp dry hops and toasted pale malts. The mouthfeel and finish are notably smooth. The Mitchell's ESB begins with a clear amber color and follows with a nice malty presence leading to underlying hops. The IPA is more of a dark straw color with fine bubbles, a light pale malty flavor with hops dominating the late flavor and finish. The Spinnakers Ale is one of the few served at 38 and at 4% and 1042 OG; it's one of the lighter brews. Gold in color, with fine bubbles, the light pale malt flavor comes across sweet with late hops in the finish.

No cigars or pipes are allowed in the restaurant section. The Appetizer menu is dominated by seafood. Salads, Soups, and Burgers support the Specialties that also emphasize seafood, all of which are tender and flavorful, ranging in price from $9 to $17. BC and California wines are available along with coffees, teas, and cider. Combine all the attractive features of Spinnaker's with the fact that the US dollar is worth so much in Canada and there is little reason not to make a special visit to our neighbor to the north.

308 Catherine Street
Victoria, B.C., V9A 3S8

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - May 1997
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