Archive | January, 2013

Hoyne Brewing Co.: Sean Hoyne

31 Jan
Brewmaster Sean Hoyne// Photo by Megan Cole

Brewmaster Sean Hoyne// Photo by Megan Cole

Hoyne Brewing Company may be unfamiliar to you, but what you don’t know is, if you’ve been drinking craft beer in Victoria since ’89, you’ve likely been sampling some of Sean Hoyne’s beer.

Hoyne – who admits to drinking Molson Export as a teenager – got his start as a professional brewer under the tutelage of British Columbia craft beer founder Frank Appleton.

“He’s the brewmaster who spear headed the craft brewery movement in British Columbia, really by putting together Horseshoe Bay Brewing Company and then Spinnakers with the Hatfields and John Mitchell,” he said. “[Appleton] and I built the brewery at Swans back in 1989. That’s where it started professionally for me.”

But like many brewmasters, Hoyne started experimenting with brewing beer long before he met Appleton. He began brewing beer at home around the time he discovered Molson Brador.

With his brothers, they began trying different hops and malts to see what kind of flavours and styles they could create.

“That sparked our interest in international beers,” said Hoyne. “Guinness was a big beer at that time and you could get a Heineken and all of these really great beers from far away, and then as the craft brewery movement took hold we were right there at the very beginning.”

Instead of creating wild flavours – like Rogue Ale’s Voodoo Donut inspired beer the Bacon Maple Ale – Hoyne is focused on quality and outstanding ingredients.

“It’s really fun to play with flavours,” he said. “The type of brewery that we are building here is where we do have some experimental beers. We have an espresso stout but for the most part our beers here are our take on some very tried and true classic beer styles.”

Growlers lined-up at Hoyne Brewing Company's Bridge Street location// Photo by Megan Cole

Growlers lined-up at Hoyne Brewing Company’s Bridge Street location// Photo by Megan Cole

Two of Hoyne Brewing Companies most popular beers are examples of where Hoyne isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, instead he’s trying to do his take on traditional. The pilsner – one of the brewery’s top sellers – is their answer to what the Eastern Europeans have been making for decades.

“We’re trying to make our version of a classic pilsner and people are responding to it,” he said.

As Hoyne and I sit in the office of the small brewery, where his wife, Chantal O’Brien, does the books, it isn’t hard to see his passion for the product he’s creating.

The words he uses to describe the Dark Matter are comparable to listening to an artist talk about his masterpieces.

While the focus is primarily on quality, some of Hoyne’s more experimental beers – like the wet hopped pale ale called Wolf Vine – have sold out in as little as a week.

“We’re not trying to be the most outlandish brewery,” he said. “We’re not trying to make a pumpkin chipotle mayonnaise beer, what we’re trying to do is make some really classic style beers and do them really, really well.”

The fact that Hoyne is able to produce and sell his Big Bock beer every year, and the customer comes knowing what they are buying is a reflection of a change in the market, something Hoyne describes as a dream come true.

“This is the dream that we have been aspiring towards for a long time (me especially because I’ve been in this business for 24 years now,)” he said. “We’ve been waiting for the day where the general consumer has an educated palate and where they are appreciative of these very fine beers, and now we’re there which is an amazing thing.”

When Hoyne isn’t busy sampling his own beers his enjoying a lot of the other craft beer being created in Victoria.

“I really do enjoy a lot of the stuff that is coming out of Driftwood, I like a lot of the stuff that comes out of Phillips,” he said.

He also recommends the beers at Moon Under Water and Dan Murphy’s beers at Canoe Brewpub.

“I have a deep appreciation for anyone in the business whose heart is in the craft of making the beer,” said Hoyne. “If they are into it for the right reasons, I support them 100 per cent and as a result we have developed a really cool brewing community in Victoria.”


Coming tomorrow: Hoyne Brewing Company

30 Jan

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It’s Wednesday(also known as hump day.) You’re half way through the week and I bet, if you’re like me, you’re craving a nice cold beer. Well, I can’t pour you a cold one right now but stay tuned tomorrow as I bring you the latest on Victoria Culinary Underground, one of Victoria’s craft beer legends, Sean Hoyne of Hoyne Brewing Company.

Nourish: Hayley Rosenberg

24 Jan
Hayley Rosenberg (centre) with her team at Nourish Garden Bistro// Photo by Megan Cole

Hayley Rosenberg (centre) with her team at Nourish Garden Bistro// Photo by Megan Cole

For most people their earliest food memories are wrapped around comfort food prepared and served with love by grandma or mom.

But even though the creamy mac and cheese or chicken pot pie may have been mouth wateringly delicious, they weren’t necessarily healthy (something more diners are looking for in their meals.)

While more of us are looking for more in our meals and dealing with various food sensitivities, the words “quinoa porridge” or “vegan cashew hollandaise” might put fear in people’s hearts.

“We deal with a lot of people who come in here who actually have fear in their eyes,” said owner of Nourish Garden Bistro Hayley Rosenberg. “It’s like we’re actually going to hurt them. Sometimes they look at the menu and they leave. It’s a rare occasion but it happens and I’m OK with it. There are lots of places for people to go eat fast food. I will never serve scones or fast food and that’s just the way that it is.”

Nourish is located on the edge of Saanich’s picturesque Horticultural Centre of the Pacific, and as the rain falls over the gardens around the restaurant, the small but warm dining room and kitchen is a project years in the making for Rosenberg.

“I think the idea for Nourish just started on its own kind of and I just followed its path,” she said.

From Vancouver originally, Rosenberg left to go travelling on her 30th birthday. She travelled around Europe but when she came home she realized she didn’t really want to be there.

Quickly she quit her job, packed her bags and made her way to Victoria.

“I was working at Canoe Brewpub and I didn’t want to eat pub food. When I moved over here I made some promises to myself that I would take better care of my body and my mind,” said Rosenberg.

With the knowledge she’d accumulated from studying holistic nutrition in Vancouver and the homegrown cooking skills she’d learned from her grandmother, she started cooking meals for herself and bringing them to work.

Eventually a couple of her co-workers took notice of the food Rosenberg was making and asked if she would cook for them.

At the same time, fueled by her interest in learning to grow her own fruits and vegetables, she started riding her bike to the Horticultural Centre to learn.

“It kind of came to the point where I had 10 clients that I was cooking for,” said Rosenberg. “I was cooking for them from my home and I quit my job because I couldn’t do both of them. I had the faith that this was something that was happening and I was going to go with it.”

With her business quickly expanding, and growing tired of the smell of onions in her house from cooking all day, Rosenberg began to search for a Vancouver Island Health Authority approved kitchen where she could continue her business.

Nourish's 'Under the Sea' is featured on their breakfast menu and includes an herb poached rock fish with baby potatoes and pea shoots// Photo courtesy of Nourish

Nourish’s ‘Under the Sea’ is featured on their breakfast menu and includes an herb poached rock fish with baby potatoes and pea shoots// Photo courtesy of Nourish

One day while out at the gardens, a VIHA approved sticker on a window caught her eye and she inquired about the small kitchen and dining room on the property.

“I went next door and asked the director if I could use the space to cook for my clients from and rent it out a couple days a week,” she said. “He said it was an option, but what they were really looking for was to have something for their guests when they come here; a space to have some tea and maybe a scone.”

Rosenberg said she could do that, but if she took the helm there would be no scones.

“I want to make sure people are eating healthy,” she said. “We agreed that it would be an opportunity for them here and within a month we agreed and opened up Nourish.”

This is the first year that Nourish has been open year round and Rosenberg has seen the restaurant grow into something she is proud of.

Even though the doors are open at the restaurant from 9 4 p.m., Rosenberg said the hottest item of the menu is their slightly non-traditional benny.

“We could be a benny breakfast place, literally,” she said. “Other than the benny, I wouldn’t say there is anything specifically that stands out. I think people are interested in how we are putting the dishes together. The benny is is probably the least normal dish that we have but it says benny. It has kale and sweet potatoes. The rest is either they see something they want or are curious about. There is no rhyme or reason.”

Nourish is located on Quayle Road at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific. For more information visit them at

Coming soon: Nourish

21 Jan
Chicken curry with parsnips //Photo courtesy of Nourish Cafe and Bistro

Chicken curry with parsnips //Photo courtesy of Nourish Cafe and Bistro

Nourish Cafe and Bistro, which focuses on healthy food but disguised as homestyle comfort food, is located in Saanich near the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific.

This week Victoria Culinary Underground interviews owner of Nourish Hayley Rosenberg and chef Landon Crawford.

Check back for another great story from behind the scenes of Victoria great food scene.

Refiner Diner: Jonathan Pulker

17 Jan
Refiner Diner's Jonathan Pulker and Jenessa Lenore //Photo by Megan Cole

Refiner Diner’s Jonathan Pulker and Jenessa Lenore //Photo by Megan Cole

It’s not uncommon to see a chef’s home cupboards bare except for the odd package of Mr. Noodles, or counters and dining room tables littered with take-out boxes.

Chefs often leave the cooking at work and choose to eat out when they’re not at work, but the opposite is true for chef and owner of popular Victoria food cart, Refiner Diner, Jonathan Pulker.

“I cook everything at home,” said Pulker. “When I get off work, I get home and cook some more. I’ve always been like that. I don’t get tired of it because I’m doing it at work.”

The Toronto-native may not have intended on making the island his home for the past 19 years, but when he was arrested at Clayoquot Sound and had to go to court, things changed.

Having made the decision to stay in Victoria and be a dad to his now 17-year-old daughter, Pulker began to take cooking more seriously.

“When I had a kid I got a bit more serious and started focusing on developing my career,” he said taking shelter from the cold January weather in Da Kine Coffee next to his truck. “I worked my way up from Pluto’s to the Empress and became a chef and opened Prima Strata and then went into business for myself and opened the food truck.”

While the streets of Victoria maybe far from the big food truck hubs like New York, Portland, San Francisco and Vancouver, diners are flocking to the Refiner Diner.

But for anyone who has driven down the stretch of Quadra Street where Pulker has set up shop, it wouldn’t be hard to miss his truck completely.

The small truck isn’t like the pre-made trucks available from manufacturers like Food Cart USA. Instead, it is a “rusty truck” outfitted with unique touches setting it apart from other trucks in town.

Having worked in various restaurants, Pulker had seen the expense of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and with the possibility that he may not be in Victoria for much longer, he decided a food truck was the best way to get his food out to the public.

“I built it myself with help from stainless steel and gas fitters, and stuff like that,” he said. “It’s a low overhead business that I could get into was the main draw. If I put that money into a building I would lose half of it, so it just made sense.”

Pulker, who works along side his girlfriend Jenessa Lenore, serves a loyal crowd, many of whom had braved the near zero temperatures for Refiner Diner’s custom poutine, the special of the day: Fernwood Falafel or their famous crispy cheeseburger.

Refiner Diner's famous Crispy Cheeseburger //Photo by Megan Cole

Refiner Diner’s famous Crispy Cheeseburger //Photo by Megan Cole

But serving great burgers and fries wasn’t enough for Pulker. He took his vision for Refiner Diner one step further by making his truck biodiesel, and instead of using someone else’s fryer oil for his truck, he decided to find someone who would convert the grease he uses so that he can put it back into his truck.

“It took a while to find somebody that would actually convert our oil for us,” he said. “You can convert your vehicle to grease; or you can convert your grease to be a fuel, so it’s a lot more money to convert a truck and I wanted to find someone who would convert our oil to fuel for us.”

It was at the VIP sections of local festivals like Rock the Shores and Rifflandia that locals (and the event’s entertainers) got a taste of Refiner Diner.

As people began to sample their fare, Pulker and Lenore heard over and over again from customers “where is your regular spot?” and in December Refiner Diner found a more permanent home on a lot on Quadra near Caledonia.

“’It took us until December to get a license and everything,” he said. “We got this place and passed the probationary period with the landlord and the neighbours. Now we’re in our second month and can plan for the next several months.”

While customers enjoy their fries, burgers, poutine and more from Refiner Diner, when Pulker and Lenore want a night off from slicing, sautéing and grilling they head to similar style food destinations as their own.

With years of experience in the Victoria restaurant industry, Pulker knows many of the people who are in the kitchens around town.

“The last place I went out to eat was Zambri’s,” he said. “Peter is a friend of mine and I like Peter and I like his food. I took my daughter there the other day.”

Pulker added Pig and Lao Vientiane to his list of favourite spots, in addition to lots of pho.

“I like to eat the same food I make. It’s low impact – it doesn’t cost you $100 to go out and eat, although I do like to go to Braisserie [L’ecole] once a year,” he said.

But when Pulker is cooking at home (especially during the cold and wet winter months) he is making stews, braises and a lot of borscht.

“My daughter wants to make yam and peanut soup for dinner tonight so I’m going to help her do that,” he said. “I’m trying to help her learn how to cook because she hasn’t picked it up so far. Her little brother is better than she is and he’s only seven, but he was interested in it at early age and she wasn’t. She’s more intellectual.”

While you aren’t likely to see a deep fried beef stew or borscht on the Refiner Diner menu, Pulker and Lenore are open throughout the winter from Wednesday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For updated hours and specials follow them on Facebook.