Beers and birdies.
Pints and pars.
Malt and mulligans.
If that sounds like your sort of dynamic duo, you are absolutely going to love Vancouver Island, with its trail of top-notch golf options and a superb assortment of breweries and tasting rooms. In fact, Victoria is known as the cradle of Canada’s craft beer revolution.
I’m not a scratch golfer or cicerone — that’s the sudsy equivalent of a sommelier — but I think I have pretty good taste. Let me recommend a few pairings for your visit …
Hole 14 on Mountain Course at Bear Mountain + Vancouver Island Brewing’s Broken Islands Hazy IPA
The beer is delightfully cloudy, but you’ll be hoping the view is crystal-clear when you arrive at this postcard-worthy Par-3, originally a bonus ‘gambling hole’ and now thankfully part of the everyday rotation on the Mountain Course. On a blue-sky day, you can see for miles and miles — out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountain range and all the way to downtown Victoria. Send a photo to your buddies back home and since you’ll also want to brag about a birdie, choose your club wisely. Short and long are both bad news. I’m a big fan of hazy IPAs, and this juicy staple from Vancouver Island Brewing — one of the original pint-producers in this market — became an instant favourite. In fact, I headed home with a six-pack of Broken Islands stuffed in my golf bag. True story.
Hole 7 on Highland Nine at Highland Pacific + Hoyne Brewing Company’s Dark Matter
Embrace the unknown. Dark Matter, arguably the headliner of Hoyne Brewing Company’s diverse portfolio, is indescribable. In fact, you won’t find any mention on the can or bottle of what type of beer you’re enjoying. What it is, and you can take this from me, is delicious. If you enjoy the darker stuff, consider this a must-sip on any visit to Vancouver Island. The seventh hole on the Highland Nine at Highland Pacific — a double dogleg — can also reward those who don’t mind a bit of mystery. As long as one of your playing partners can point out the ideal line, crank your drive on this Par-5 assignment through the gap in the trees on the left. And then take aim over the rocks on the right with your second shot. With a little luck, you’ll be lining up a putt for eagle.
Hole 17 at Olympic View + Phillips Brewing & Malting Company’s Blue Buck
The folks at Phillips refer to Blue Buck as a “legendary beast,” and you’re not going to hear any argument from me. This amber-coloured ale, a smooth sipper with caramel undertones, helped to put Victoria’s craft beer scene on the map and remains a popular pour. So what makes No. 17 at Olympic View a perfect pairing? This course has some legendary ties, too — Tiger Woods was already a three-time U.S. junior champ when he competed here as a high-schooler. And it doesn’t get much more refreshing than the approach shot on this signature challenge at Olympic View, with a 60-foot waterfall backdropping the green. If you can stick your second shot and drain the birdie try, you might feel like a legendary beast in your own right. (For those with a sweet-tooth, Phillips’ Longboat Chocolate Porter should also be included on any tasting tray.)
Hole 7 on Valley Course at Bear Mountain + Ile Sauvage Brewing’s Papillon Saison
Ile Sauvage, which translates to “Wild Island” is a relative newcomer, but this creative crew has quickly carved out a reputation for its unique lineup of sours, saisons and experimental mixes with fresh flavours — apricots, melon, raspberry and much more. The Papillon Saison will be a hit with both your taste-buds and Instagram followers. Butterfly Pea Flower gives this beer a one-of-a-kind violet colour. While we don’t mind wandering off the beaten path to try a new brew, the key on the seventh hole on Bear Mountain’s Valley Course is to stay out of the wild. This skinny fairway is flanked on both sides by tall trees and exposed rock, putting a premium on accuracy off the tee. The approach shot is also a little nervy. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with the bunker left of the green.
Hole 17 at Arbutus Ridge + Lighthouse Brewing’s Shipwreck IPA
Shipwreck wouldn’t be a bad nickname for the 17that Arbutus Ridge, where many golfers have watched a career round — or at least a score worth toasting — disappear in a splash. This knee-knocking Par-3 stretches to 174 yards from the tips, and there’s water short, long and left of a peninsula-style green. With out-of-bounds to the right, there’s no good miss. If you can knock one on, however, and better yet sink the birdie putt, then you have earned a celebratory pint. Shipwreck is a staple tap at Lighthouse Brewing. This West Coast IPA won’t hammer you with hops, but it’s still packed with flavour and offers enough oomph to perhaps help you forget how many Titleists you left swimming in the water on your second-to-last hole of the day.
Hole 11 at Cowichan Golf Club + Vancouver Island Brewing’s Hermannator Ice Bock
This beer has serious clout. Same goes for this golf hole. The Hermannator is iconic in craft circles — this seasonal special boasts an alcohol content of 9.5%, although it tastes way too smooth to be that strong. Hermann Hoerterer, the original brewmaster at Vancouver Island Brewing, initially poured these potent pints three-plus decades ago as a holiday treat for family and friends. The secret is now out, with the Hermannator winning some significant international awards. We can recommend a winter seasonal because this is one of the rare destinations in Canada where you can play year-round. Like the Hermannator, Hole 11 at Cowichan Golf Club can be a knockout. Considered one of the toughest Par-4s on the island, you must clobber your tee-ball to have a good look at the green. From there, you’re still sizing up a heroic carry over a pond. Gulp.
One final pairing that shouldn’t be understated. Golf & Beer are paired so often together, that Golf Vancouver Island partnered with Vancouver Island Brewing to create the Vancouver Island Golf Trail Ale. You can only find this tasty craft beer at select golf courses along the Vancouver Island Golf Trail.
Regardless of your choice, you’re bound to find a selection of golf courses and craft beers on Vancouver Island that will please all palates.
Guest Post by Wes Gilbertson – Postmedia golf/travel feature writer and self-admitted golf nut.
May 25, 2021, by: Golf Vancouver Island