10 to Watch Winner 2024 – Small Gods Brewing

10 to Watch Winner 2024 - Small Gods Brewing
From left, Chris Bjerrisgaard and Jonny Kostiuk. Photo By: Jeffrey Bosdet.

Sector: Brewing and hospitality

Year launched: 2022

Principals: From left, Chris Bjerrisgaard and Jonny Kostiuk

Unique selling proposition: Small Gods is both a hospitality business that serves as the community living room for the Saanich Peninsula and one of the premium craft beer makers in B.C.

Strategy: To create a safe, sustainable and inclusive community where people thrive through food, drink and literature.

Website: smallgods.ca

This brewery’s eccentric name is a wink and a nod to its hometown of Sidney, a.k.a. “Book Town.” 

The founders of Small Gods Brewing on Third Street took inspiration from this world of literature, and have created a homey, family-friendly gathering place that does more than serve beer. The brewery hosts monthly events, including author readings, book swaps and a book club. The taproom has a selection of books for kids, and they provide an atmosphere where everyone is welcome to stop by, savour an artisan sandwich or have a brew with friends, family or a favourite book. Joining their roster of events is It’s Knit!, where people connect over knitting, crocheting and embroidering. 

Empathy is not a word you often hear to describe a brewery, but Small Gods has a core philosophy of diversity, equity and inclusion that sets it apart from the competition. On the sustainability front, they practise in-house composting and recycling, CO2 recapture and even use spent grain to make their wildly popular chocolate-chip cookies.

This creativity extends to the brewhouse. There are traditional offerings like IPA and Pilsner, but also one-of-a-kind brews like Sea of Tranquility (smoked dulse stout), Season of Storms (buckwheat lager) and Light Bringer (a strong, hazy IPA with Riwaka and Pacifica hops). In a place like Victoria, overflowing with craft breweries, their beers have stood out, winning several national medals and garnering glowing reviews. They release a remarkable 50 offerings a year, and every Tuesday locals show up to see what’s next. 

And the name? Co-founder Chris Bjerrisgaard wanted a “patron saint,” and they landed on the poem Small Gods by writer Jim Harrison, which refers to an ancient form of brewer’s yeast. And, says Bjerrisgaard, “It just sounded cool.”