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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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Newfoundland Craft Beer Roundup, Autumn 2018

It’s getting dark earlier and the weather has decidedly cooled, which means it’s time for crisp evenings with crisp beers. And there are a lot of beers in the works for the next few months! We have a crop of six breweries fighting to get open by the end of the year, as well as a new addition to the Newfoundland craft beer list, so let’s take a little flight over the island to see what’s happening.

Eastern Avalon Breweries


Three of those six breweries vying to open this fall are on the Eastern Avalon with Landwash Brewery, Ninepenny Brewing, and the Fire Hall all having received 15 BBL systems from DME in the past few weeks. Commissioning has begun on all three systems which means all three will likely be pouring by the end of the year.

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Meanwhile, Quidi Vidi Brewing Company has continued to work on new collaborative project and events with local businesses, including launching a beer in collaboration with the MerB’ys for their charity calendar.

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Finally, Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House has launched a new Blueberry Cider on tap at their brewery, while Storm Brewing has continued its rotation of Raspberry Wheat though likely we’ll be sipping on Coffee Porter in the coming months.

Western Avalon Breweries


Baccalieu Trail Brewing Co., is another one of the six working towards opening soon. With their first batches underway already, they are most likely the next brewery to open in Newfoundland.

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Dildo Brewing Co.’s continued success has been recently covered in The Racket’s brewery tour of Newfoundland (read that here). And while all has been quiet on the Brigus Brewing Co. front, I do have confirmation that the project is still in planning and hoping for a 2019 opening.

Eastern and Central Breweries


Our new addition to the Newfoundland Craft Beer list is Union Electric Brewing Co, who have announced their intentions to open a brewery in Port Union in 2019 (you can read more on the CBC here). It’s exciting to think that a Bonavista brew tour might be possible next summer!

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Split Rock Brewing Co and Port Rexton Brewing Co came together last week to take over the six taps at The Merchant Tavern in St. John’s. With some new beers, like Port Rexton‘s Drifter Gose and Split Rock‘s Oathkeeper IPA, it was a great showcase of the kind of beer events and interesting beers we’ll be seeing more of as our brewery scene develops.

Finally for this area, Scudrunner Brewing has continued their operations after a brief hiatus due to some plumbing issues and have oddly removed their page from Facebook.

Western Newfoundland Breweries


There is a lot happening right now in the West! Crooked Feeder Brewing Co has brewed a batch on their first batch of Bonne Bay Blonde and are expecting to be selling beer in the next month or so. Work on commissioning Secret Cove Brewing Co’s 15 BBL DME system is underway with brewing likely commencing soon. It still seems down to the wire of which of Secret Cove, Landwash, Ninepenny, and the Fire Hall will open first this fall.

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Western Newfoundland Brewing Co has been somewhat quiet recently and their beer hasn’t appeared in St. John’s as frequently as over the winter months. Bootleg Brew Co seems to be having a great time playing with new beers and fun movie nights at their pub. And work still seems underway for RagnaRöck Northern Brewing Company Ltd who, having filed their environmental assessment, are aiming for a 2019 opening.

The Race to Open…

In the closing months of 2018 we have six breweries either brewing or in the final stages of getting their equipment placed and installed. It’s likely that Baccalieu Trail and Crooked Feeder are only weeks away from pouring their first beers. And it seems likely that before the end of 2018 LandwashNinepennySecret Cove, and the Fire Hall will all open their doors. That takes us from nine operating breweries (Quidi VidiStormYellowbellyPort Rexton, Western Newfoundland, Bootleg, Split RockDildo, and Scudrunner) to fifteen, which isn’t bad when you consider that at the beginning of 2018 there were only seven (both Dildo and Scudrunner have already opened this year).

Boomstick looks as if they are well on the way to opening with equipment being received at their Corner Brook facility. The remaining breweries (Brigus Brewing CoRagnaRöck NorthernUnion Electric, and Labrador’s Iron Rock Brewing Company – with the removal of their social media and webpage, Rough Waters Brewing Co has been removed from this list) all have longer timelines into 2019. With Boomstick likely bringing the total to sixteen early next year, if the remaining four projects continue we could reach 20 breweries by the end of 2019. With this rush to open by year end, we’ll need the winter just to catch up on all the new beers coming our way.

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The Eve of Summer, 2018

It’s been almost two months since my last roundup of what’s happening in Newfoundland beer and while there are a few very exciting things to report, for the most part the complexion of province’s beer scene has remained very much the same. Let’s run down through the areas and get a sense of where everyone is going into summer 2018.

Eastern Avalon Breweries


The biggest announcement on the eastern Avalon is the opening of Quidi Vidi Brewing Company’s tasting room. Open daily (for hours and tour availability see their facebook page), the space is a minimalist, rustic, clean taproom offering their core beers as well as a series of pilot batches from their new 3 BBL pilot system.

The rest of the eastern Avalon has stayed very much the same for the open breweries, with YellowBelly Brewery and Public House releasing new seasonal beers (including a collaboration with Central City Brewers + Distillers) and Storm Brewing rolling out it’s summer raspberry wheat to NLC locations.

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The new breweries all seem to be under active construction, Motion Bay Brewing Co. (Petty Harbour) has posted on facebook they will be pouring by December 2018. Ninepenny Brewing (CBS) posted just today that they have begun work on getting their waterline capacity increased and their electrical permit opened.

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The waterline construction for Ninepenny Brewery

Landwash Brewery (Mount Pearl) is on schedule to receive equipment in August and is currently working on their taproom and retail area construction. Finally, the Firehall Brewery is still under active construction on Duckworth Street in St. John’s.

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From Landwash‘s instagram.

From the current indicators, all of these breweries will likely be open by the end of 2018 but none will likely be serving beer this summer. Expect the months between October and December to have lots of grand openings on the eastern Avalon.

Western Avalon Breweries


Currently none of the breweries on the western Avalon are open, but it is possible two will be pouring by the end of the summer. Dildo Brewing Co. (Dildo) has brewed its first batch of beer, a dry stout, with the consulting stewardship of veteran brewer Greg Nash from Unfiltered Brewing (Halifax). With beer in the tanks, opening could be as soon as a month away for Dildo Brewing.

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Brewing at Dildo Brewing on their 10 BBL DME electric system. From instagram

While there is nothing new to report on Brigus Brewing Co.Baccalieu Trail Brewing Co. is preparing for their equipment which is currently in shipment in Halifax.

With the best case for a system commissioning (electrical, plumbing, placing, testing) being around a month and a batch of beer taking at least another month, Baccalieu Trail might have beer by September, so file them in with the breweries in hoping for a fall 2018 opening.

Eastern/Central Newfoundland Breweries


Both Split Rock Brewing Co. (Twillingate) and Port Rexton Brewing Co. (Port Rexton) are open and operating at full capacity this spring preparing for the incoming summer tourist season. The big news in this region is the opening of Scudrunner Brewing in Gander.

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from Scudrunner‘s instagram.

While they have had to stop filling growlers for the time being, their tasting room is open  everyday except for Mondays. It’s been years in the making for Scudrunner, so congratulations to them! Some of their beer has made it to St. John’s (Blue on Water, in particular) but for the most part you’ll have to visit their tasting room to see what they have brewed up. Their Red Ale seems to be the one with the most interest thus far.

Western Newfoundland Breweries


I have tentatively added Ragnarock Northern Brewing Company (St. Anthony) to the map, as they have stated a location and a target for a 2019 opening. Their facebook features lots of excited pictures of their homebrewing setup and they have released a small batch of shirts for purchase.

Bootleg Brew Co. (Corner Brook) and Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. (Pasadena) are both operating, with Bootleg being featured at a recent tap takeover at Adelaide Oyster House in St. John’s and Western continuing to ship cans across the island to NLCs in their crowlers.

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From Crooked Feeder’s facebook.

Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. (Cormack) has been working to renovate their space and is in the process of building their pilot system with the help of a local fabricator. Meanwhile, Secret Cove Brewing Co. (Port au Port) has receved their steam boiler and is pouring concrete in their production area. They have also announced the name for their first beer, “Malt Water Joys.”

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from instagram.

Who’s next?

With the opening of Scudrunner, we’re up to eight breweries. They are: Quidi VidiStormYellowBellyPort RextonWestern NewfoundlandSplit RockBootleg, and Scudrunner.

From the current progress and posting online I suspect that the only brewery that will be pouring beer this summer that is not currently doing so will be Dildo Brewing Company. I also suspect that their will be a bunch of openings starting in September with Baccalieu TrailSecret Cove, and Crooked Feeder all receding equipment currently and deep into renovations. Similarly, Landwashthe FirehallNinepenny, and Motion Bay will all likely be pouring nearer to the end of the year. That makes eight more on the way this year: a potential doubling of the number of breweries in the province between now and the end of the year. The current forecast will put Newfoundland at 16 breweries by the end of 2018.

As for the rest, it’s harder to tell from their social media. Ragnarock has not yet filed an environmental assessment with the provincial government and has stated 2019 as a target for opening. Brigus hasn’t updated any social media in over two months, so it is unclear how far along they are with their construction, if at all. Other breweries announced, like Boomstick (Corner Brook) and Rough Waters (no location yet), haven’t rolled out any new information about their planning, so they will likely be 2019 openings. Similarly, up in Labrador, Iron Rock seems to be rethinking their size and location.

2019 is shaping up to be the year of beer in Newfoundland where you will be able to try more beers brewed here than ever before. At least sixteen breweries with tasting rooms, stories, and interesting new beers are just around the corner. For now, follow them along on instagram, facebook, and twitter and show them your support!


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A New Chapter

In the last year, more breweries have opened and been announced than any other time in Newfoundland’s history. From a small group of three or four breweries has grown a list of new names hoping to open up in this province.

New names, new stories, and new beers are coming to Newfoundland. To reflect that, we have begun the process of refocusing this project. Newfoundland Beer History (nlbeerhistory) is changing to

The goal of this change is to document both the past and the present of Newfoundland. To present some of the stories of brewing in Newfoundland and to keep track of new projects, beers, and events. For now a new page has been added to list the announced brewing projects, but more features and updates and in planning here too.

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Newfoundland Beer Tour Guide (Archived from 2015)

Newfoundland Beer History’s “Tour Guide to Newfoundland Craft Beer.”

Hello and welcome to Newfoundland! Or, if you’re only thinking of coming to Newfoundland and wondering what local beers you can find here, thanks for thinking of us. This page is part of the Newfoundland Beer History project, but it’s written for you, dear tourist. In short, this page is a quick reference guide to finding craft beer in Newfoundland and having a good time doing it. (We have lots of other posts over on the blog about Newfoundland Beer History, including stuff on why beer bottles are shorter in Newfoundland and other strange facts about Newfoundland beer, so check that out if you want to know more information. Want an Newfoundland Beer History 101? We’ve got you covered.)

While you might expect that Newfoundland’s British and Irish culture would dictate that our beers are stouts and red ales, these styles have only recently come back into Newfoundland and for much of the twentieth century (especially since the 1930s) ours was a German Brewing culture. While there are newer craft brewers taking on what might be thought to be more tradition faire (stouts, porters, and reds), expect Newfoundland tastes to side towards the lighter and more crisp side of the beer palate.

First, a couple of things have to be settled from the get go. Liquor sales in Newfoundland are done through a government agency, the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation or NLC. Most of the beers and breweries featured on this page can be found in their locations throughout the province. Corner stores and gas stations in Newfoundland can sell beer, usually in closed, 6 or 12 packs. Most of the beers found in corner stores and gas stations are not craft beer, though, as we will note below, some craft brewers do stock their products there. Two corner stores worthy of note for carrying a larger selection of products by Storm Brewery are Needs Convenience – 69 Military Rd and Halliday’s Meat Market – 103 Gower St (who stock Storm and most Quidi Vidi products).

Second, a note about “non-craft” beer in Newfoundland. Most of the beers from Newfoundland you may have heard about, Black Horse, Blue Star, India Beer, Dominion Ale, or Jockey Club, are not craft beers. At least not according to any conventional definition. They are brewed either by Labatt (AB-Inbev) or Molson (Molson-Coors). You can find out a lot more about them by clicking here, to read our overview of these brands. If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, these are unlikely to appeal to you, however; they should not be totally dismissed. These brands have a long history in Newfoundland and, moreover, both Labatt and Molson still operate breweries in St. John’s and invest in the local economy. If normally drinking “BMC” or anything by a multinational brewery is an anathema to you, maybe lower your guard a little in Newfoundland.

Finally, this post talks about two things. The three Newfoundland craft breweries and bars in St. John’s where you can find their beers. It is not a general guide to drinking in St. John’s. It is also, unfortunately, very St. John’s (“town”) centred. If you go to other parts of Newfoundland (“the bay” or “central”), then you are less likely to find craft beer in bars, though the NLC does carry some brands out there. Similarly, this post does not deal with drinking in Labrador, though in the future we do hope to include blurbs on some of the better places to grab a drink when there. Good so far? Good. Here’s a handy map of the places we’re going to be talking about.

Newfoundland Craft Breweries


Quidi Vidi Brewing

The Basics: Located at 35 Barrows Road, Quidi Vidi Brewing is the oldest of Newfoundland’s craft breweries. Check their website for the seasonal times of their tours and tastings. Their location in the historic fishing village of Quidi Vidi and their beautiful brewery make it a spot worth visiting. Their beer is some of the most widely distributed in Newfoundland and can be found in many corner stores, gas stations, and NLC locations throughout the eastern part of the province. If you’re going to be in St. John’s for a while, it’s better to buy the beer directly from the brewery where they give you a price break as part of their loyalty club (buy five dozen, your sixth dozen is free).

The Beer: Quidi Vidi brews mostly lagers and tends to play along side the larger breweries, rather than the North American craft niche. Their Premium and Light Lagers are fine examples of a craft Canadian Lager/Light Lager. They also brew Eric’s Cream Ale (a lager-ed light ale), Honey Brown (an light brown ale with a sweet honey finish), 1892 (an unusual American Amber Ale with spicy German hops), and a British IPA (a lighter bodied IPA with a sturdy bitterness). Their Iceberg beer (a very light Canadian Lager), brewed with Iceberg water and sold in long neck, blue beer bottles, is a tourist favourite. I notice a slight, pleasant salty note in many of their beers, which could be due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Who said beer doesn’t have terroir? At Christmas time their seasonal Mummer’s Brew (a stronger version of their 1892) is worth seeking out.

Storm Brewing

Storm Brewing Newfoundland

The Basics: Storm brewing is another one of Newfoundland’s older craft breweries, debatably older than Quidi Vidi (they both began in 1995-6). They are located in Mount Pearl, a suburb of St. John’s, and do not do tours or events. They only brew ales and can often be found at the NLC and at the “Needs” convenience stores around St. John’s (the one on Military Road, opposite Bannerman Park, being a safe bet, so is Halliday’s Meat Market – for a few more possibilities see their webpage). They bottle in long neck bottles (sold in 6-packs) and larger, 650 mL “bomber” bottles. Often their products sell out quickly in bottled formats, but can be found in several bars around town quite regularly. They have discontinued the use of stubby beer bottles and they have also stopped brewing their once popular Hemp Ale.

The Beers: Storm’s line, as mentioned, are all ales. Their Irish Red (a roast-forward, sweet and light red ale) is generally the most available, with their Island Gold (a slightly hoppy, light American pale ale) being also fairly common. In the summer time their Raspberry Wheat (light, refreshing, with slightly sweet raspberries) is widely available, while in the winter their Coffee Porter (a dark ale, not quite rich or thick enough to be a craft porter, with local coffee) is around. They also brew a beer for the bar The Duke of Duckworth called “The Duke’s Own” (a more English styled ale, with light ESB qualities). More on the Duke of Duckworth follows below.

Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House

Photo credit, Melanie Cooke, 2012.

Photo credit, Melanie Cooke, 2012.

The Basics: Yellowbelly is St. John’s first brewpub and is located downtown at 288 Water Street. They are in a beautifully restored heritage building and are one of the nicest places to grab a pint in St. John’s. Their beer is also the most contemporary to the rest of North America, featuring some more hop forward ales and more pronounced roasted malts. Their beers are also distributed to the NLC in 750 mL bottles, with some seasonal offerings packaged in 1L “flip top” bottles. While easily found at their brewery (for both bottle and on site sale), Yellowbelly’s ales are also found in other bars around St. John’s.

The Beer: Yellowbelly Pale ale (a hop-forward pale ale with some English character) is arguably their flagship beer, with their Fighting Irish Red (a malt-forward red ale) and Wexford Wheat (a light bodied American Wheat) as sound alternatives. Their St. John’s Stout (an Irish Dry Stout with lots of roasted malt) is another classic and one of Newfoundland’s best beers. Keep an eye out for their seasonal offerings which, in the past, have included an IPA (a rarity in Newfoundland) and a pale ale brewed with Newfoundland grown hops. Yellowbelly also brews a beer called “Mummer’s Brew” at Christmas time, which varies from year to year (2011 Spiced Ale, 2012 Chocolate Porter).

The Bars

A general note about bars. The Liquor Control Act (liquor laws in Canada are a provincial matter) stipulates the drinking age is 19+ and:

For establishment licensees alcohol may only be sold during the prescribed hours. The hours of sale are from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. An Extended Hours License permits the sale of alcohol until 3:00 a.m. and permits consumption until 3:30 a.m. on the days immediately succeeding Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Photo Credit Melanie Cooke, 2012.

Photo Credit Melanie Cooke, 2012.

The Duke of Duckworth – 325 Duckworth St

The Place: The Duke of Duckworth is perhaps the best place to start and finish your exploration of Newfoundland craft beer. Made (more) famous for its appearance on CBC television’s “The Republic of Doyle,” the Duke is a quaint, English themed pub. They have a great fish and chips, though food is usually more common during the day.

The Taps: The Duke usually caries its own house beer, The Duke’s Own (brewed by Storm – more on the house beer here), as well as other Storm beers (Irish Red, Island Gold, Raspberry Wheat or Coffee Porter) and Quidi Vidi Beers (British IPA, 1892, Iceberg, Honey Brown) tap as well. Other beers include pub standards like Guinness but little else in the way of North American or European craft beer.

Photo credit Melanie Cooke, 2012.

Photo credit Melanie Cooke, 2012.

The Ship Inn – 265 Duckworth St

The Place: The Ship Inn is best known as a local venue for rock and folk shows, as well as the occasional philosophy lecture. They have a kitchen during the day which also features some pretty good grub. Standing room only during shows, in the afternoon The Ship is a great place to play some pool and enjoy a dark, quite pint.

The Taps: Usually Storm (Irish Red, Raspberry Wheat or Coffee Porter) and Quidi Vidi (British IPA, 1892, Eric’s Cream Ale, Honey Brown) taps are available along side evening drink specials (sometimes as extreme as 3 Jockey Clubs for $5) which make shows very enjoyable.


Bitters, The GSU Pub – Feild Hall at 216 Prince Philip Drive

The Place: Run by the Graduate Student Union (GSU) at Memorial University, the GSU pub has one of the best selections around town for both Newfoundland craft and imported craft beer (notably Picaroons from New Brunswick). Their food also features a wide selection of vegetarian options. If you’re in town for an academic conference, you really should drop by.

The Taps: Yellowbelly (Pale Ale, St. John’s Stout) and Quidi Vidi (Iceberg, Light, 1892, Honey Brown) are often available. And, since they are one of the only places to carry any other North American craft beer, they are a solid local favourite.

Photo Credit Melanie Cooke, 2012.

Photo Credit Melanie Cooke, 2012.

Christian’s Bar – 23 George Street

The Place: One of the best places on the infamous George Street to grab a pint, Christian’s is also one of the more interesting places you can be “screeched in.” It’s an Irish themed pub, so be wary of car bomb shots from the more excitable. Stay downstairs if you want to avoid all of that racket and just drink your pint.

The Taps: Quidi Vidi are usually here (British IPA, Iceberg, 1892), especially at Christmas when their Mummer’s brew appears. Sometimes, and more recently, Molson’s India Beer can be found on tap here too.

Other Bars

This guide is always a work in progress and several other bars which have been craft friendly, or that are at least places where craft beer is available in bottles, merit inclusion:

Nautical Nellies – 201 Water St

  • Quidi Vidi Taps and good pub food.

Erin’s Pub – 186 Water St

  • Another traditional music venue with Molson’s India Beer on Tap.

O’Reilly’s Pub – 13 George St

  • O’Reilly’s is partially owned by the same people as Yellowbelly, so their beers are on tap along side the normal pub range of Guinness and Kilkenny, Molson’s Rickard’s Products, and AB-Inbev’s Shock Top and Rolling Rock brands. They are also a popular folk music venue, so it’s one of the hotter nightlife spots on this list for those that find beer alone is not enough to hold their interest.

Some “Craft Beer Friendly” Restaurants

The following restaurants have been known to offer Newfoundland craft beer options, often in the form of Quidi Vidi taps and Storm Brewing bottles. Because availability varies, we have not listed their specific selections here. These listings are based on user submissions (if you think one’s missing, drop me a note) based on only their beer offerings, though many are quite good restaurants (this post is not a restaurant review for any of these establishments):

  • Raymond’s Restaurant – 95 Water St – Website
  • The Club – 223 Duckworth Street – Website
  • Mallard Cottage – Quidi Vidi Village, near Quidi Vidi Brewery (Open in late 2013)Website
  • Bacalao Nouvelle Newfoundland Cuisine – 65 Lemarchant Rd – Website
  • The Sprout Restaurant – 362 Duckworth St – Website
  • Pi Gourmet Eatery – 10 Kings Road – Website
  • Chinch’d Bistro – 7 Queen Street – Website
  • AQUA Kitchen and Bar – 310 Water St – Website

Other Places and Things You Should Know

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Raymond’s Restaurant, it’s worth noting, has also taken to importing beers through Beer Thief. Beer Thief is a local speciality import club and forum. It’s well worth checking out if you’re in town for awhile. If not, try finding a member and raiding their beer cellar. In town for a really long time? Check out Brewery Lane and Brew Craft for your homebrewing needs. There are a number of very good homebrewers throughout Newfoundland, so ask around and you might find some really great beer.

Special Thanks

Credits to photos are noted below, but special thanks to the following people for contributing information and helping keep the information about taps up to date: Allan J. (bar information), Melissa from Burbs and Beers (who has a great travel writeup), Melanie Cooke (photos), and Peggy E. (for convenience store stock tips).

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