I’m visiting Vancouver Island, British Columbia for the third or fourth time in the last 10 years but something is different on this trip.

As I drove from the Victoria airport to my hotel, I was struck by the sheer number of microbreweries and brewpubs dotted along my route.

And if that wasn’t a sign, when I pulled back the curtains in my hotel room, there were three visible among the beautiful mountain panorama.

What to do…what to do…

Well, that’s a rhetorical question, obviously.

On the recommendation of a colleague, my first stop was Axe & Barrel Brewing Company. Comfortably “bellied up” to the bar at their Barbeque Brewpub I studied the 7 craft beers “from tank to tap.”

Oh, can there be two more beautiful words than “barbeque” and “brewpub”? And when they’re put together…well, I digress.

Craft Beer Diaries founder Danny Brown has been trying to convince me of the merits of IPAs; he hasn’t been successful.

However, in his honour I chose the Speedway RPA. What could go wrong? I’d be having a pale ale for him, mixed with one of my favourite grains: Rye? As it turns out, nothing…nothing could go wrong.

Speedway Rye Pale Ale

The Axe & Barrel Speedway RPA’s clear amber-coloured beer did not disappoint. When used correctly (in the right amounts), the grain should add complexity more than flavour.

The aroma reminds me of the pale ales popular in Portland and Seattle but with more body. The taste is as bright as those beers but with more body.

The first sensation experienced is spice with just a touch of rye-bread flavour. The citrus notes are clearly there, followed by a familiar warmth of the beer’s caramel-like maltiness, with only slight notes of the hoppy bitterness associated with IPAs.

The rye provides a surprisingly clean finish, ensuring there’s just enough bitter hop aftertaste.

I may have been influenced by the cod & chips I had for dinner but this was the perfect marriage of American Rye with British Pale Ale.

Well worth the trip and a great tease for what’s next on my Vancouver Island beer-tasting journey.


  • ABV: 5%
  • IBU: 42
  • Style: Rye Pale Ale
  • Taste: Full-bodied, citrus, fruity malts.
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Untappd Reviews


Sam Fiorella
Sam’s love of beer is an extension of his love of, well, all things alcoholic. From fine aged wine to single-malt Scotch to expertly crafted beers, his only prejudice is quality; life is too short to endure poor quality beer. A proper footy fan, favourite beers are strong Belgian Ales, Stouts, and Porters.
Sam Fiorella

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