Longwood Brewpub is located about 10 minutes drive north of the Nanaimo ferry terminal and is strangely located in a strip mall. Something that you soon learn about the island is there are strip malls everywhere you look, which is a shame, but one can’t be too judgmental on one tourist trip. But the observation is not uncommon.
Walking into the pub upstairs it had a half pub, half sterile look to it, that reminded me of Yaletown Brewery in Vancouver. The dining restaurant is upstairs with the main bar downstairs. Once seated we got talking to the barmen and the locals who appear to be the highlight as there were many there at 3-4pm in the afternoon having pints over the bar and willing to comment on anything and everything whether its the curling or figure skating. Which these characters all look like ex-junior hockey goons, for which skating was not their strength but left hooks were.
One cannot complain about anyone in the bar, that was the highlight.. but whats up with the Airline – Push Button Taps in the washrooms that you have to press and hold to get water out of? Vancouver Island has the highest rainfall of any part of Canada, why the need to conserve water? Go to Home Depot and buy some tap handles that don’t make you look like your saving the planet, but ones that actually allow one to wash your hands…
The highlight was the Wood Burning Fire that was being stoked by staff and you definitely got a feeling that this would be a local pub if you lived close to this multi-level strip mall. The extra bonus to this strip mall was the BC liquor store.
The Beers weren’t bad but the only beers that stood out were the ‘Harvest Ale’ and Imperial Stout. Harvest Ale is made with locally grown apples. The beer was great off tap and it was the kind of beer you could have for breakfast instead of apple juice. The Imperial Stout I left with a growler full of as it was dense and rich. The other beers weren’t bad, but not great or beers you’d go out of your way to drink again.
The Beer List Consisted of:
Longwood Ale – 5% / Czech Pils – 5.5% /IPA – 6.5% /Dunkelweizen 5.5% /Harvest Ale 6.5% ***Seasonal*** ESB 6% / Scotch Ale 7.2% / Russian Imperial Stout 6.5%
Why Go to the Island?
Avoiding Olympic Lines & People was the idea on Saturday morning, with line ups 6 hours long for a 30 second flying-fox ride, and 2-3 hour lines for Olympic Houses that were nothing more than cafeterias with TV sets. There is no doubt that Vancouver Island is one of the prettier parts of Canada, and leaving from either Horseshoe Bay or Tsawassen terminals is very easy from Vancouver. The ferry Ride was the highlight of the day as your passing through snow capped mountains and seeing seals in the straight was amazing also the ability to walk around the top deck. It appears to be windy no matter what time of year you go though. Fortunately or unfortunately no booze is served on board.
The one thing the Island appears to have plenty of is ‘Strip Mall’s’. To those non-North Americans its a concrete plaza with an array of Chain Stores that include such necessaties as Pizza, Liquor and Subway Sandwiches. I picked up pretty quickly as we drove up the coast to Parkesville that when in need of a Dominos Pizza, Dairy Queen, Quiznos you had better head to Island and hit up one of the many awful strip malls.
Overall though it’s a nice bar for a few beers but there is nothing on tap that is extra special that other breweries aren’t producing. It is not just the issue with this brewpub but others in BC that have more beers on tap than they actually need without anything that leaves you wanting more. I felt the same way when I went to Craig Street Brewpub in Duncan recently.
One of the great parts of brewpubs is their ability to experiment with ideas and create something special, such as the Harvest Ale or the Imperial Stout or Barley Wines that may not popular but help introduce regulars to certain styles of beer that they may not be accustomed. Though on this trip there were two beers I really enjoyed, I’d be interested in trying further beers from this brewpub.