And Then There were 5: The Story of Western Newfoundland Brewing Company

Newfoundland’s 5th local and independent brewery self-describes not as a microbrewery, but even smaller: a nanobrewery.

Newfoundland’s 5th local and independent brewery self-describes not as a microbrewery, but even smaller: a nanobrewery. It’s located in Pasadena, making them the first company to give craft beer a go on the western half of the island since Atlantic Brewing gave it a go in the late 1960s.

The brewery is the brain child of Jennifer Galliott and a father and son duo in Jim and Norman MacDonald. Jennifer is a fifth generation local of Woody Point, always looking for another excuse to stay in the area, Jim arrived in Gros Morne on a week-long camping trip five years ago and never left, and Norm “hails from the pollen-laden forests of Eastern Ontario and likes being able to breathe during allergy season.”

Jim met Jenn in 2011, on that camping trip he’s still never returned from, because Jenn runs Galliott Studios in Woody Point: it’s the most stunning little cafe, pub, and craft shop with patio seating that happens to be a wharf in the heart of beautiful Bonne Bay. The brewery’s wheels started turning the day Norm asked if he could try a local brew on tap at Galliott Studios. She said yes, so long as “we all worked together towards a common vision.”

The result was not a hurried effort. It was two years of painstaking work to get the vats a-brewing, and part of the two years it took from conception to execution was plotting solutions for their 2 resolutions: “The beer needed to be full-bodied, full-flavoured; The beer could never sacrifice quality for the sake of expedient production or cost saving measures.” And they sound happy with the result.

“We have exceeded our expectations in accomplishing these three goals. We pay close attention to the characteristics of each lot of grain, hops, and yeast that we purchase. We know exactly the mineral content of our water and how it needs to be conditioned depending on style.”

Norm’s professional background is as a chemical engineer, so he’s more attuned than most to the purity of water. “His experience has been exceptionally advantageous to refining the quality of our product. He understands how different sugar chains, proteins, and acids will contribute beneficially or deleteriously to the quality of the beer.”

They say their “style and strategy” has been especially influenced by Beau’s, just outside of Ottawa. “They began with a defunct textile factory, a lot of willpower, and some eye-catching ceramic bottles. Ten years later they’re one of the largest independent brewers in the country and all of their products are incredibly well-balanced and refined.”

They also admire Toronto’s Steamwhistle, “simply for their dedication to doing a fantastic job on just one style of beer. Steamwhistle also does an excellent job of tying their product to the location in which it is brewed. It is paramount that our beer embodies something of the region, that the consumer feels a tangible connection between beverage and place.”

To start, Western Newfoundland Brewing is devoting itself to producing and mastering two brews: Wild Cove Cream Ale (a smooth, full-bodied brew with bready, herbal, and spicy notes) and Killdevil Pale Ale (light in colour, full in body, and generously hopped to bring out tangy flavours of grapefruit and pine).

“We’ve worked hard to develop ales that people drink and say, ‘Wow, there’s a lot more going on in this beer than I expected.’ We ensure that the experience from nose to aftertaste is thoroughly enjoyable.”

This fall is basically Day 1 in their operation; you can try their beers at Galliott Studios in Woody Point, but there’s plenty of interest in the area from restaurants and pubs, so, keep an eye on their website for a growing listing of where they can be found on tap.

“We very much hope to have the product available province wide within a few years.” They won’t be canning or bottling to start, but have “set the gears in motion for how we will get our beer into shelf-ready containers and into the NLC.”

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1 Comment

  • Nice to see the Overcast reaching out for more off the Avalon stories. Funny two pieces about Western coming out within a week of each other too.

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