What started out from humble beginnings has become one of the top stops for tourists and locals alike in the humble surf town of Tofino. In fact, even people as far as Kelowna and Fort St. John have likely heard the name, or would recognize the iconic logo of Tofino Brewing Company.
The three co-founders of Tofino Brewing Company, Dave McConnell, Bryan O’Malley and Chris Neufield, came together after a rough October working hard outside during the rainy season of Tofino. Decidedly, there had to be a better way to make money in the small town. With business degrees and no brewing experience, the well-received and much needed brewery was born halfway between downtown and Chesterman Beach – the perfect spot for a post-surf pint. Used tanks from Washington were acquired and a helpful brewer with actual experience, Dave Woodward, came to lend a hand. The first brews were underway.
Today, a handful of beers (around ten or so depending on the season) can be found in big bottles across British Columbia and into Alberta. There are also plenty on tap in many of Tofino’s restaurants. You can pick up a one or two liter refillable growler at the brewery and fill it up to take home with you. The beer-to-go section also includes four-packs of the 650mL bottles and six packs of their too-easy-to-drink lager. The white garage door with its bold logo is a common site in the photographs of tourists who pay the popular spot a visit. Inside, the long bar is attended by bubbly staff who fill flights, pints and growlers for hours during the summer. Beyond, you can see the tanks, which are filled with the latest batch of liquid gold. Joining in on the contagiously happy atmosphere is an easy feat, and it’s no surprise people love hanging out at the brewery. There’s no shortage of Tofino Brew Co. souvenirs to pick up either: T-shirts, stickers, toques and more are abound.
Although the Tuff Session Ale is a common go-to, as are the Blonde and Lager, a supremely unique addition to the brew options is the Kelp Stout Ale. That’s right – nothing says West Coast more than a beer brewed with seaweed. Doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? The taste might surprise you. Dark in colour, the beer is rich in different layers of flavours. Its full-bodied tones are accompanied by a distinct umami dash courtesy of our PNW kelp forests. It’s perfect for an evening sipper, or on a stormy day, or any season/time of day/kind of weather really. The Kelp Stout is definitely worth a shot – especially for those who love dark beer.
The final aspect that makes this particular company a perfect blend into the Tofino community is their pledge to sustainability. Much like the rest of the town’s businesses, Tofino Brew Co. has always had, and always will have, a focus on creating great beer in the most sustainable, local and positive way possible. This means hydroelectricity versus propane, reusing water and sending spent grains to a nearby farm.
The brewery is well worth a visit while in town. Grab a seat where you can with a pint in hand and let the distinct west coast atmosphere envelope you. For first timers, a four-beer flight makes for an excellent starter pack. Then, take your favourite home with you in the form of a growler. It makes for a perfect rainy day afternoon, or summer session with friends.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk