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Port Rexton microbrewery gets environmental OK

Partners Sonja Mills and Alicia MacDonald hope to be producing beer by this summer

Port Rexton microbrewery

A proposed microbrewery in Port Rexton is one step closer to opening. (Port Rexton Brewing)

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An eastern Newfoundland beer business says it's moving ahead with plans for a microbrewery after getting an environmental thumbs-up from the provincial government.

In a post on its Facebook page, Port Rexton Brewing said its assessment was approved Dec. 24, and identified issues that can be dealt with now to avoid delays down the road.

"The regulatory road map is a tangly one, but we are working our way through it and are still on track to providing craft beer to you next summer!" wrote the owners.

Alicia MacDonald and Sonja Mills told CBC in October that they hope to be up and running for the 2016 tourist season.

The approval letter from the Department of Environment and Conservation cautions the pair that an amendment to the town's development regulations will be needed for the project to go ahead.

"We were very happy to receive that the minister has released our project," Mills told CBC News by phone. "If there wasn't a release then it would have had to go to another stage, more involvement, more time, keeping things on hold for an indefinite further period, so we're pretty happy that it's being released."

They have also applied for loans from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the provincial government.

Mills is from Clarenville, and said the inspiration for the microbrewery came during a visit home with business partner MacDonald, who is also her wife.

Sonja Mills and Alicia MacDonald, Port Rexton Brewing Company

Sonja Mills (left) and Alicia MacDonald are the co-owners of the Port Rexton Brewing Company. (Submitted by Sonja Mills)

The two have moved to Port Rexton and bought property in town that they plan to renovate into a small, four-barrel capacity microbrewery, with the capability to produce about 1,000 pints of beer at a time.

While the pair have not said what will be coming out of their taps, the plan is for an open-concept brewing area, a tasting room and retail space.

The women have previous experience with the craft brewery movement in Nova Scotia. They hope that now that they've gotten through most of the red tape, they can get down to the nitty gritty of making beer.

"We anticipate there will be other hurdles and different things thrown our way as we go along," said Mills. "But we're working very hard to deal with every issue that comes to us and yeah we're still on track to open this summer for sure."

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