What to Expect in Newfoundland Beer in 2018

Happy New Year! And what a year it’s shaping up to be for Newfoundland beer. We’ve got so many new breweries in the works and many of our existing breweries are turning a corner or expanding to offer more beer and ways to get it. Let’s run down through the projects and see what’s happening.

Oh, and if you haven’t already, check out the East Coast Crafted book by Whitney Moran and Christopher Reynolds. It puts a lot of this recent growth in context and shows just how much there is left to do even with this recent boom of breweries. While all the breweries coming up in Newfoundland might feel like a lot, for other provinces with similar populations we’re still playing a lot of catch up.

Let’s start with the first wave breweries. The legal dispute that seemed endless has finally settled for Quidi Vidi Brewing. With the end of the stalemate that held the brewery to business as usual there is a new sense of excitement that Quidi Vidi can pivot to a more craft-driven model with new beers alongside their classics like Iceberg. Yellowbelly Brewpub has opened a separate retail shop for their beers and pizzas a little further down Water Street and have also announced that they will be opening a full service restaurant at the airport in St. John’s. Meanwhile, Storm Brewing seems to be holding with their current lineup and availability of beers.

The opening of Port Rexton Brewing ushered in a more modern, mainland facing and connected, era of craft brewing in Newfoundland. With co-owners Alicia McDonald and Sonja Mills pushing for a new school of craft breweries to open on the island, a wave of new breweries have announced their intention to open in the next year or two. Look out for their beer now in St. John’s at their retail location on Torbay Road.

Both Western Newfoundland Brewing Company is Pasadena and Split Rock Brewing in Twillingate opened and started pouring beer in 2017, so expect to see their products roll out to more places like Jack Axes who seems to be gunning for the mantle of best place in Newfoundland to try beer from here.  Both breweries (along with Port Rexton) were featured at Stillwell in Halifax for the launch of East Coast Crafted, which is perhaps the most beer from Newfoundland breweries ever poured off the island.

As for new breweries opening soon, Scudrunner Brewing in Gander is expected to open in early 2018, with Dildo Brewing in Dildo and Secret Cove Brewing in Port au Port East are seemingly under development enough to be open in the coming year. Rough Waters Brewing Company in Burin is also targeting a spring release. The unnamed Firehall Brewery project on Duckworth Street (lead by Phil Maloney of Hey Rosetta! fame) in St. John’s might also be ready to pour beer this year.

In planning stages, Motion Bay in Petty Harbour, Ninepenny in Conception Bay South, and an upcoming Brewery Project in Mount Pearl are also looking to build up this year with either a late 2018 or early 2019 pouring date. Additionally, Crooked Feeder Brewing in Cormack and Bootleg Brew Co in Corner Brook are also still in the planning stages. As is Boomstick Brewing, also in Corner Brook, who have begun the stages of an environmental assessment. Additionally, Baccalieu Trail Brewing Company in Bay Roberts and the Brigus Brewing Company in Brigus have begun their environmental assessments. And RagnaRöck Northern Brewing Company is hoping to have beer by 2019, too.

For those keeping track, the operating list includes Quidi Vidi, Yellowbelly, Storm, Port Rexton, Western Newfoundland, and Split Rock (6). The “in planning” list includes Scudrunner, Dildo, Secret Cove, Rough Waters, the Firehall project, Motion Bay, Ninepenny, the Brewery Project in Mount Pearl, Crooked Feeder, Boomstick Brewing, Baccalieu Trail Brewing Company, Brigus Brewing, RagnaRöck Northern Brewing Company, and Bootleg Brewing (14). That’s potentially 20 breweries operating in the province by the end of 2018 or in early 2019.

At this development pace, Newfoundland could potentially have 20 breweries by 2020. For a province which for so many years was seeming locked at three craft breweries, these are exciting times. Which one are you most excited about? Something new or are you excited about more things from a brewery you’ve loved for years? With so many options about to come around, drinking good beer in Newfoundland is about to be much easier.

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Filed under Contemporary Beer, Microbreweries, news

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