Island Brewery impresses with stout, lager
By Taylor Pitt, Contributor
Tonight I sit down with Hoyne Brewing Company, located on Bridge Street in Victoria. While I don’t understand their motto, which is “Drink Hoyne for smarts, strength, and stamina,” I do understand their beer to be some of the finest I’ve tasted out of this province so far, and with so many breweries to pick from, that comes as high praise. First on the list is Helios, a Dortmunder Golden Lager, which I shamelessly picked for the artwork on the label.
Helios pours extremely light and bubbly, almost like a sparkling apple juice in appearance. Any lighter and it might be mistaken for champagne. A slow but steady pour creates a two-finger head that goes down quickly. It smells quite sweet, but unremarkable otherwise. Before I tried it, I was ready for disappointment, worried that the best thing about the beer would be the bottle’s artwork. I’m a lot happier after I tried it, as the beer tastes exactly as the label looks: bright, cheerful, and for lack of a better word, epic. While there are no unusual flavours or special additions to the recipe, Helios doesn’t need them. It’s smooth, but not so smooth as to make you forget that it’s alcohol, and the bubbly sensation sticks around in your throat.
Really, the only downside I can find here is figuring out how I should convince you to try it. What can I say about a beer that tastes… well, of a teaspoon of sugar, malt, and hops? How about this: it’s a limited release, and if you don’t go out and buy it, perhaps at the 8th Street Liquor Store, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Two kids, a divorce, and a remarriage later you’ll be thinking back to this article and wishing you had tried that beer.
Second, I picked up Devil’s Dream IPA, an India Pale Ale. While it isn’t as eye-catching as Helios, or as immediately intriguing, I figured it would be an interesting contrast to my other two choices. After all, it’s an IPA, possibly the most popular beer produced by microbreweries on the entire West Coast. I knew before I poured it what it would look and smell like, and had a guess at the taste. However, I wasn’t quite given what I was expecting.
Devil’s Dream pours only a slightly darker gold than Helios, and another slow, steady pour created a head only one finger in height, that went down with time. Of course, it being an IPA, it smells like hops, and has medium-low carbonation. It’s the taste that’s surprising. Amazingly bitter and heavy on the hops, even for an IPA, I was initially displeased by the taste. And with no aftertaste, I didn’t look forward to finishing the rest of the bottle. I took another small sip, and it only seemed to confirm my distaste. Even fans of hoppy beers may find that this is just too much for them to take. On the other hand, if you’ve found other IPAs too light or boring, this may be the brew for you.
Last but not least, I tried Hoyne’s Voltage Espresso Stout. As you can imagine, this is a beer brewed with a lot of coffee flavour. It’s extremely dark and smooth, almost to the point of not tasting like a beer. Now, if you checked out my review of Longwood Brewery’s Stoutnik, you’d probably expect me to trash this beer just the same. Luckily for me, and perhaps for you, Voltage goes down much better than Stoutnik did.
Voltage pours dark as the night, and even when held up to the light it retains the black coloration. Its head, about one finger in height when I poured it, was a medium brown in colour. My first sip left a great impression—it certainly was what the label advertised. I had an espresso beforehand, just to compare, and it tastes quite similar. Sure, there’s the familiar taste of hops there, too, but nothing more. It’s not as complex a brew as Stoutnik was, and the smooth quality of it doesn’t damage it as much as it did Stoutnik.
Hoyne brewery seems to consistently make delicious brews. Except for their IPA, I’ve not been displeased by anything they’ve put out, and it may just be a matter of my personal taste when it comes to Devil’s Dream. I’d recommend you pick up some beers from Hoyne the next time you plan a small gathering of friends, or when you need something to cheer you up during your studies. They range from $5.50 to $8, so give it a shot.