I actually drove right by Category 12 Brewing when I approached. Honestly, I don’t know how I missed the sign outside as it’s plainly obvious. My only explanation is that I was looking south instead of north, getting left and right mixed up as usual.
Tasting lounge (coming soon)
But I finally got there, and it’s brand, spanking new.
And great too! In Vancouver we’re accustomed to most venues having a tasting lounge but at the moment, C12 is working on adding the lounge to the space, as they are waiting for the licensing process to go through. Owner and brewer, Michael Kuzyk, is confident that the city of Saanichton will look favourably on their application. Especially since the mayor has already stopped in for some samples and fills.
The space is emblazoned with the orange, grey and white of the C12 logo and labels. There are a few stools by the window and there’s plenty of swag for sale too. I grabbed one of their glasses while I was there. They were so nice, I had to have one.
Unexpectedly, I ran into Dustan (@beermebc) at the brewery which was brilliant since chatting with a fellow blogger is always fun for me, particularly with me being so new to the game. If you read this, you likely already read his reviews too, but if not please go check out his site and give him some well-deserved support.
As I chatted with Michael, he was gracious, hospitable, and all smiles. He introduced his wife, Karen, poured some samples, and took us on a tour of the new facility.
It appeared to my untrained eyes that Michael has some room to grow in the space which is great news. He’s currently aging a couple of beers that he says he’ll try in a couple of weeks’ time to determine if they’re ready for release.
As a local-aholic, I was particularly intrigued that so much of the brewing equipment was manufactured right up the road from C12 by Specific Mechanical which is great for Michael and C12. Especially since parts can break or need servicing and when they do he won’t need to go far. Plus, supporting local business is something I’m all in favour of. That mentality is infused within C12’s modus operandi.
The other great thing, is C12 has the facilities to bottle their offerings and send them over our way. They dropped off their first delivery in Vancouver just last week (check out their blog to find out more)! Michael was excited about getting his beer to a larger audience, especially in a way that engages the market over on this side of the sea. With many more of our local breweries bringing their beers to liquor stores in bombers, bottles, or cans, it has to feel good for Michael to join such great producers so early on in his brewery’s development.
The other positive is the new assistant brewer that Michael has hired (originally from New Zealand) to spread the work around. His first task was to take the already solid Unsanctioned Saison and create a cask for the Opening Cask Night of Victoria Beer Week. His creation was as outlandish as it was delicious; adding habanero peppers, lemon grass, lime leaves, and a bit of crystallised sugar. The result was definitely a stand-out of the cask night; a bit of spice, very fragrant, and yet the saison base came through very nicely. While this wasn’t my overwhelming favourite beer that night, it was definitely an honourable mention.
So Saanichton may seem a long way to go for growler fills, but if you’re on the island and were already planning on a visit to Driftwood, Hoyne, Spinnakers, or any of the many other great breweries in the city, I would advise you to nip off the highway on your way into (or out of) town to meet the crew at Category 12, check out their digs, sample their beers, and encourage them to keep up the phenomenal work.