WATCH: Barry Fisher has owned Vancouver Island Brewery for 30 years, but says it’s time to move and retire from the beer business. Monica Martinez has more.
From its first pour 32 years ago, Vancouver Island Brewery became known for its world-class craft beers made for the local market.
They carved a niche for themselves in an industry dominated by mass breweries.
In 1984, they were the second craft brewery to open in Canada. Today, there are more than 100 craft breweries in Western Canada alone but owner Barry Fisher, now in his 80s, said it’s time to sell.
“It’s time to move on and pass the torch to a younger crowd with similar values the craft industry and Vancouver Islanders have shared,” Fisher said.
They were approached by many companies over the years, but he chose to sell to an Ontario oil businessman and co-owner of Muskoka craft brewery Bob MacDonald.
“The brand name will be the same, the management is going to be located here. The business is still going to be independent and run here out of Vancouver Island,” he said.
B.C. is known of its progressive, experimental beers and as big as the scene is now, it’s still growing.
“In B.C., it’s not growing it’s exploding, It really is, it is really taking over as mainstream,” MacDonald said.
And under new ownership, Vancouver Island Brewery wants to evolve with the times.
“We are going to take the heritage we learned and apply new thinking, new growth and innovation but will do it carefully and with thought,” said new President Timothy Barnes.
Other local brewers said Fisher was a pioneer, fundamental in cultivating Victoria’s vibrant craft beer community.
“He paved the way for me and really inspired the German beers we do, they were the first German brewery on the island here,” said Clay Potter, brew master and co-owner of Moon Under Water.
With the taps open, Vancouver Island Brewery’s new owners promise to keep satisfying the thirst of adventurous beer drinkers.