The Sip: Ranking the Beers in Vancouver Island Brewing’s Innovative (and Awesomely Designed) Pod Pack

Okay, fine, we’ll play favourites.

There are few things we appreciate more than a seasonal mingler, especially one that’s actually new to the market and not the same thing every time the calendar flips (you know who you are).

But a new seasonal mingler that involves a collaboration between five respected breweries and seeks to support a good cause?

Vancouver Island Brewing’s Pod Pack delivers on those fronts, and its ode to B.C.’s southern resident killer whales is something to behold.

The mixer consists of four tall cans, each crafted in collaboration with another Vancouver Island brewery. The designs that decorates each can—as well as the pack itself—are also whale-specific, with each beer named after a different killer whale inhabiting the province’s shores.

Plus, one dollar from each pack sold goes toward preserving wild salmon stocks, a vital food source for B.C.’s orcas. 

Oh, and all the beers are very good, to the point where we almost feel bad ranking them.


4. Ocean Sun Double IPA – White Sails Brewing (Nanaimo)

We’ll be honest. White Sails is the only brewery on this list (other than Vancouver Island Brewing) that we’ve actually been to. And it’s fantastic, genuinely doing its part to make Nanaimo palatable to the scores of Lower Mainland millennials who are currently looking at the city’s real estate prices out of the corner of their eye.

And while this is a crisp, drinkable IPA (especially at eight percent), it’s not doing anything especially different to stand out from its peers. Though it is a really nice, juicy IPA.

3. Mystic Dry-Hopped Sour – Île Sauvage Brewing Co. (Victoria)

We’ve been aching to take a trip across the Strait of Georgia to visit the recently opened Île Sauvage, which specializes in sour beers. This is our first taste of what the establishment has to offer, and it’s very tasty—a fine summer beer indeed.

And maybe it’s our inherent preference for full-bodied, fruity sours over those that are dry-hopped (it ended up tasting a bit too much like a cider for our taste), but it was a tad outshone by another sour on the list.

2. Deadhead Hazy Sesson IPA – Land and Sea Brewing (Comox)

Another new entry in Vancouver Island’s beer scene (it opened in December of last year), Land and Sea brings its A-game to the crowded field of hazy IPAs that have dominated craft beer this summer.

It’s a solid sip, though, as it’s juicy and not at all dry. Maybe the slight drop in alcohol content (it’s 4.5 percent) helped with that? Or Land and Sea just knows how to craft an awesome hazy IPA. Of course, Vancouver Island Brewing can definitely do that, as evidenced by its really nice Broken Islands Hazy IPA.

1. Rainshadow Bramble Sour – Twin City Brewing (Port Alberni)

One of our favourite beers we’ve had this summer, this beauty is enough to make us consider the trip up to Port Alberni. Twin City doesn’t usually package its product, so this concoction is likely one of the only experiences Lower Mainland drinkers will have with the brewery.

And what an experience it is. The blackberry and raspberry are both very evident in this extremely tasty (but never too sweet) sour. At 5.5 percent, it’s drinkable but still complex enough to keep you interested.

Hey, Twin City, if you’re reading this, we do accept large quantities of beer. Just saying.

The Pod Pack is selling for $26.12 at BC Liquor Stores across the province.

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