Monthly Archives: December 2018

Newfoundland Craft Beer Roundup, December 2018

What a year it’s been for Newfoundland Craft beer! Looking back at my post from January, “What to Expect in Newfoundland Beer in 2018,” it’s great to see that so many of the developing breweries managed to get open and serving their beer so far this year.

And the year is not over yet! We still have one that looks like it’s going to be a photo finish celebrated with more than a few of their first beers. With three new breweries open (Baccalau TrailCrooked Feeder, and Landwash), one immanent, and one getting a brand new name (Bannerman Brewing Co.), let’s take a little trip up the TCH and beyond and see what everyone’s been up to in the last two months.

Eastern Avalon Breweries


The biggest news in the metro region is perhaps the launch of Landwash Brewery. For total clarity, I write this blog, but also am a co-owner at Landwash. Landwash launched with four beers, all available in cans and most in growler fills: Hazures Rock Breakfast Stout, One Wave Blonde Ale, That Much Ocean New England IPA, and Brackish Sour Ale with Newfoundland Salt Company Sea Salt. Cans of all but the stout ran out due to a line of people outside the taproom on opening and a steady crowd of locals. Keeping beer in the taproom is the priority right now as production ramps up to a regular schedule, so more packaged product will have to wait until January.

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Quidi Vidi Brewing Company hosted a beer pairing dinner with the constantly-winning-awards Raymonds Restaurant and brewed a collaboration beer, Bogs and Barrens, an Imperial Gose with Bakeapples that – while a bit delayed – will be out in the new year. Billed as “something that could only be done in Newfoundland,” the can looks incredible and it promises to be one of the more sought after new beers when it comes out. Quidi Vidi has really pushed out this year with Calm Tom Double IPA and Day Boil Session IPA being breakout hits and their Open Saison line of fruit beers have ensured a saison is now a style that everyone has access too.

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The other big item of news is a new name! “The Firehall Brewery” has long been the stand-in name for the brewery opening up on Duckworth Street in downtown St. John’s but now it finally has a name: Bannerman Brewing Company. Their logo looks amazing and they look to be setting up a very polished looking space with some very cool beers. Right now the brewery looks on track for an opening in the first few months of 2019.

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In other soon-to-be-brewing news, Ninepenny Brewing Co in Conception Bay South is getting their final equipment setup finished up and on the way to brewing soon. Their taproom is shaping up to be a steampunk inspired space and their growlers (as they teased on their instagram) look great and almost ready to fill with some exciting new beers from Ninepenny.

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Meanwhile, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and with all of this new brewery excitement it’s important to remember the classics of Newfoundland craft beer and celebrate with a pint of Yellowbelly Brewery’s rotating Mummers Brew. Here is the scoop: “This years Mummer’s Brew is a light bodied winter warmer. Designed in part, to highlight the character of malt from the Alberta heirloom barley breed ‘Olli’ and a brand new Canadian hop called Sasquatch™. The lovely, soft, sweet berry character of this malt is elegantly counterbalanced by the beautiful citrus, melon, floral, earthy, spicy character of this unique hop. Lagered for 4 weeks and dry hopped to enhance hop character, this beer is approachable, clean and moreish. Medium length bitter finish. Strong. Mind yourselves.” The beer is in NLC locations around the metro region, but is it really Christmas time if you don’t have it at the pub downtown?

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Yellowbelly has also announced that they are setting up a second brewery, hotel, convention centre and more in an old church in Harbour Grace. Read more on that here.

Finally, Storm Brewing Co has instagram now and has posted a few great old shots of their beer in NLCs back from 1999. Currently it’s been hard to find Storm on the shelves, so fingers crossed a few new batches will be around before the holidays (edit: as I was writing this post bottles of Island Gold returned to select NLC locations)! Anyway, here is a great shot of some Newfoundland Beer History from Storm. Anyone still have a Millennium Ale bottle?

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Western Avalon Breweries


We have another brewery opening! Baccalieu Trail Brewing Co. has opened in Bay Roberts (right on the edge with Spaniard’s Bay)! Offering four beers (an ESB, New England IPA, a Stout, and a Blonde) they have designed a beautiful minimalist tasting room that showcases the beauty of the Shoal Harbour Bird Sanctuary they overlook. Somewhere between a more tourist attraction brewery (the road trip from the metro region this summer will be a three stop trip to BaccalieuDildo, and a visit to the Newfoundland Distillery Company in Clark’s Beach) and a local taproom, Baccalieu looks to be set out to do great things.

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Over in Dildo, we can turn to a little more political news as they played host to provincial Finance Minister Tom Osborne who announced some tax relief for Newfoundland breweries. While Newfoundland’s taxation rate on beer continues to be the highest in the country by almost three times, this is a shift in the right direction as Newfoundland’s craft beer industry becomes a larger player in tourism, hospitality, and local job creation in this province.

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Still nothing new to report on the Brigus Brewing Co. We hope to find out more about the project in the new year and try to get a sense of when they might be opening.

Eastern and Central Breweries


In the “no surprises here” category, we have Port Rexton cleaning up at The Overcast‘s People’s Choice Awards. In new beer news, Port Rexton has also released a new Helles Lager, Long Trek, brewed with Escarpment Labs’ Isar Lager strain. This is the brewery’s first foray into lagers thanks to two new fermenters that have once again increased their production.

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Up in Twillingate, Split Rock has brought back their Flanker Smoked Porter for the late fall season and continues to host local musicians at their Stage Head pub.

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Scudrunner is all dressed up for Christmas and seem to have found success with their Thunderhead Gros Morne Coffee Stout.

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Since announcing not much more has come forward about Union Electric. They are an exciting brewery to follow into 2019 as they work to add yet another reason to make the trip up the ever popular Bonavista Peninsula.

Western Newfoundland Breweries


Out on the other side of the island we have two exciting developments. First, our third new brewery, Crooked Feeder, started filling growlers out of their brewery! They currently don’t have a taproom setup (look for that in the spring or early summer), so on growler fill or on tap in local restaurants is the only way to try their beer. Fingers crossed a few kegs find there way east soon! So far they have released Bonne Bay Blonde, Spillway IPA, and their Double Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.

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Second, Secret Cove has started brewing and are still aiming for an opening date before the end of the year. For anyone following the developments of our brewery community, this is great news as Secret Cove has been in the works for a long time and it’s so exciting to see it start to come to life. Their Hard Case in Your Face DIPA and When In Stout Foreign Irish Stout have both been brewed and will hopefully be available soon! With a DIPA on the initial offering list (and with a name like that) it sounds like some of the Nova Scotia brash and big IPA style might be finding it’s home here in Newfoundland too.

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Boomstick Brewing is still further out than most of the other west coast breweries, but they are a very ambitious project. Combing a hotel, restaurant, and brewery is a massive undertaking and the photos they are sharing on instagram show they are clearly doing it right. It’s a major construction project still, but from the looks of it so far this will be a huge destination on the west coast. At this pace, it could potentially be open before the end of the tourist season in 2019.

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Western Newfoundland – who were less active over the summer on social media – have returned with fresh “crowlers” of their Strout River Midnight Stout being distributed to NLC locates across the island.

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Bootleg Brew Co really look like they are always having fun making beer. From their new Deez Nuts Peanut Butter Stout to  their Juice Arse Milkshake Pale Ale, there are some fun beers and names coming out of Corner Brook.

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RagnaRöck Northern Brewing Company Ltd has announced it’s opening date with a ticking clock on their new website. It seems like they are targeting a late May opening and have begun renovations of their building in St. Anthony.

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Labrador Breweries

Yes! Labrador Breweries! Iron Rock continues to be a brewery that is under active development. Having ordered glasses and growlers, it seems more and more likely that by the end of 2019 we might have the first brewery in Labrador… ever?

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Rounding out the Dozen

Landwash brings us up to an even dozen operational craft breweries in this province, with three more brewing or about to brew (Secret CoveNinepenny, Bannerman) to bring us to fifteen early in 2019. For this count I don’t include Mill Street in the same way that I don’t include the Molson or Labatt Breweries in this province. If you want to count those, Landwash was brewery fifteen with the three on the way bringing us to eighteen but for clarity I will continue to use the twelve number to represent independent craft breweries in this province.

On the way in 2019 we have Boomstick and Ragnarock already working on renovations to their spaces, bringing us to sixteen and seventeen within the next six to eight months. Union ElectricIron Rock, and Brigus still in the planning stages. If they open next year, we would get to the twenty before the end of 2019. Additionally, the Kilick Capital Project is a potential new brewery where they are “seeking an energetic and passionate Brewery General Manager to run a start-up brewery. The brewery is to be commissioned from scratch with a package brewery plus one or more tourism centric brewpubs.”

By summer 2019 we will have fifteen operational craft breweries in the province that will have a few months under their belts to work out the opening kinks and dial in their production. I cannot stress how unique this is enough. In April of 2018 there were seven breweries in the province, where one year later there will almost certainly be more than double with all of them having several months of brewing completed. If you are thinking about coming to Newfoundland anytime, this summer is the time. You can see and be a part of the excitement of this new industry here and see the energy, enthusiasm, and enjoyment of a market developing for the first time. It’s going to be a wild year.


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A Personal Note

When I started this website six years ago, the kind of excitement for craft beer in this province we now have would have seemed impossible. I started this website because I love beer and I love Newfoundland. I love the beer we brew here because we brew it for Newfoundlanders and those that visit this great province. From India Beer to Chasing Sun, it’s ours.

When I started this website, I was really just curious about where India Beer or Jockey Club – our local beers that are some of the last “local brands” maintained by the multinational beer conglomerates – came from. Why did we still have these weird local nostalgic brands being brewed here? Why, instead of PBR like the rest of North America, everyone was into India Beer at the rock shows downtown?

When I Googled, back in 2012, for images of old Newfoundland beer bottles I found nothing. The history was spotty and there were no clear timelines of what breweries existed here (like Lindberg Brewing Company) and when they died. So, I started collecting everything I could and making a digital archive. Populating the Google Image search for “newfoundland beer” as fully as I could. But, back when we had three breweries in this province this project seemed more like a memorial with a faint glimpse of hope than a living resource.

Over the years I collected a lot of interesting old “brewrania” (as the old-time beer bottle collectors call it) and tried to digitize and archive it so that somewhere, on some server, this material culture that is essentially trash in the historical moment when it is consumed, was preserved. I tried to collect all the interesting specks of Newfoundland’s Beer History I could and propagate them out into the world. While sometimes that ended up with some annoyances about uncredited work, the point was the general preservation of the history of beer in this province.

The love of the history and culture of beer in this province drove me to ship bottles to my Toronto apartment and find old labels and consult endless old newspapers in the University of Toronto library and the Center for Newfoundland Studies at Memorial. I scanned and wrote as much as I could muster to try to generate something that could make it easier to understand where the brewing industry in this province came from and how it defined our culture.

Now, documenting what is happening in the industry as it happens, also feels like a kind of archiving. Watching the industry grow from Quidi Vidi, Storm, and Yellowbelly into Port Rexton and Western Newfoundland and Split Rock and Bootleg and onward to eleven operating breweries at the time of writing has been surreal. It’s what I’ve dreamt about every time I dusted off an old issue of the Atlantic Advocate in the E. J. Pratt Library at Victoria Collage to look for Rainbow Beer advertisements: a celebration of beer in Newfoundland.

I say eleven at the time of writing because I’m part of making it twelve. With some amazing partners we are making a part of Newfoundland Beer History. I’m not just documenting and archiving the story, I’m part of it.

And now that I’m not just commenting on it on the radio or writing about it in The Overcast, from afar or being a visiting brewer in the brewhouses of this province – now that I have found a way to participate in the history I’ve tried so hard to preserve and propagate –  I am so honoured and humbled by the opportunity.

Brewing has always been a hobby for me. I started homebrewing in 2010 to play with making some hoppy beers that I had tried in Montreal. It was a sometimes-all-consuming hobby as I dialed in equipment, read books, and listened to hours and hours of homebrewing podcasts while brewing more and more beer to figure out how to make it better. It was an all-consuming hobby, but it was a hobby. My passion was really the Newfoundland Beer Project. The documenting the intersections of beer and Newfoundland culture.

Now I have a chance to live in that intersection. To both try to expand the beer culture in Newfoundland with more excitement and more diverse, interesting beers and drinkers as well as to document that for future Newfoundland beer historians and lovers of Newfoundland culture everywhere. I feel privileged and honoured to have found myself here and I promise to do my best to bring the love of Newfoundland beer that I’ve brought in six years of this blog to everything we do at Landwash Brewery.

But now, enough sentimentality! Let’s keep writing, brewing, and documenting this fascinating chapter of Newfoundland’s Beer History.


Chris Conway

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