From college roommates fiddling with home brews to brewery owning buds – Stephane Turcotte, Ian Ibbotson and Adam Gresley-Jones say they’re living the life.
The threesome own Ile Sauvage located in downtown Victoria. The brewery opened last November and specializes in sour beer.
“I’d say our beers pop and most people agree with that,” says Turcotte.
According to Turcotte the trend started in Germany and Belgium, breweries started adding a bacteria to the beer to make them ‘sour’ – although Turcotte says the name is a little misleading.
“It’s not a really good term because technically speaking they have as much sourness as a white wine,” says Turcotte.
While they say sour beer might be an acquired taste for some, they’re proud of being able to show off their talent locally.
“We’ve heard almost nothing but good reviews of our beer, there’s the odd person who doesn’t like sour beer but we’ve been really impressed with being able to convert them into sour beer drinkers,” says Turcotte.
Turcotte had been running a brewery with his wife in South Korea, but on a visit home started imagining what life would be like if he, Ibbotson and Gresley-Jones could open a brewery on the Island.
“The one thing we wanted to do was make sure we were making exciting beer that we are passionate about,” says Turcotte. “We got to basically dream up our ideal brewery and do that.”
Securing their location in spring 2017, Turcotte says it took about a year of rezoning and planning to get the brewery, tasting room and bar up and running.
“Not only can you taste the beer but you can also buy flights of beer or by the glass,” says Turcotte. “You can also buy beer to-go.”
With a rotating menu of new beers the team says they love to experiment.
“We generally choose stuff that’s little bit funkier or wild with a lot of different strains that a lot of other breweries don’t use which we’re excited about because it helps us drive flavour and at the end of the day that’s what we’re excited about,” says Turcotte.
Both Turcotte and Ibbotson played with home brews while in university that lead to a lifelong passion.
“It was cheaper and the beer was a little better and so I just got more and more into it,” says Turcotte.
Another unique characteristic of the brewery is the fact that Tourcotte is a cicerone, similar to a sommelier but for beer instead of wine.
“I’m actually an advanced cicerone so I think I’m the only one on Vancouver Island,” he says adding the testing for this was more intense than when he did his masters degree at the University of Victoria.
The team at Ile Sauvage say that while it’s understandable if you don’t like sour beer, the best way to try it out is to come in and crack a cold one.
“We’re pretty confident there’ll be at least one beer you will really like,” says Turcotte.
In conjunction with Victoria’s Beer Week, Turcotte will be teaching a couple beer school events for other ‘beer geeks’ on the Island.
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