Nfld. & Labrador

New bar and eatery in St. John's celebrates craft beer community from all corners of N.L.

Brewdock has opened its doors on Duckworth Street in St. John's, with a taste of beers from across the province.

24 flavours of beer, ripe for the picking

Brewdock Beer Bar and Eatery in St. John's is now officially open. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

A new bar and restaurant in downtown St. John's is connecting the province one beer at a time. 

Brewdock Beer Bar and Eatery has opened its doors on Duckworth Street, and opening the taps to beers from all corners of the province. The owners, Craig Farewell and Steve Martin, have been in the craft beer game for a while as the minds behind some of N.L.'s craft beer festivals in recent years. 

"There's 19 craft breweries across the province, so it's a great time to see this kind of establishment in the province and to continue to support these craft breweries," co-owner Steven Martin told CBC News in a recent interview. 

Inside Brewdock, customers will find 24 taps, each with a different beer at the ready. The goal is to feature all of the province's breweries, no matter how big or small, or how near or far. The business will also serve up food, something Farewell said will be just as big of a draw as the beer itself.

Brewdock is also reaching outside the province, featuring beer, cider and some wine from businesses throughout the Maritimes and rest of the world. The list of available beers will rotate with the supply, providing the opportunity for distant businesses to stock their product when ready. 

For companies like Iron Rock Brewing in Labrador City, it means getting further exposure to craft beer lovers on the province's east coast.

"I think that's going to be a rising tide that raises all boats for the industry as a whole," Iron Rock Brewing co-owner Brian Hurley said. 

Beerdock owners Craig Farewell and Steve Martin have been around the craft beer industry for a number of years, helping organize some of the province's craft beer festivals. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Shipping out of Labrador City has its own challenges. Hurley said sending a pallet of kegs to St. John's isn't viable right now for restaurants that offer only sporadic availability on their taps and fear another potential COVID-19 outbreak leaving them with unused inventory.

"To try and send out a pallet with 24 kegs on it is tough for us," Hurley said. Once leisure travel opens up a little more, he said, it'll be easier to ship six kegs in a truck to the island instead of a full pallet. He also hopes to work out a deal with PAL Airlines to take some kegs during cargo runs.

Another pandemic summer

Other breweries agree having a craft beer bar covering the province's growing industry will solidify its sense of community. N.L.'s craft brewing businesses have leaned on each other in times of need, offering equipment or grain to their neighbour with no questions asked, said Sonja Mills, co-owner of Port Rexton Brewing, who calls it "co-opetition." 

"Everyone is just so eager to help where they can," Mills said. "We're all technically competitors by the book, the definition, and we all have to make a go of it, of course. It's our business and our livelihoods, but we're all co-operating to help lift each other up."

There are 24 taps inside Brewdock, with plans to feature all of Newfoundland and Labrador's craft breweries. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Mills is gearing up for another busy summer and hoping to have some sort of normalcy as more and more people get vaccinated. Port Rexton Brewing will be celebrating its fifth year in business this summer, and Mills said she hopes the business can hold a celebration and bring back regular trivia nights and other events for the community. 

Closer to Brewdock is the Dildo Brewing Company, on the southeastern side of Trinity Bay, which is also prepping for a busy summer. Co-owner Angie Reid said B&Bs in the area are already booked solid from staycationers getting ahead of the summer rush. 

Reid said she's excited that Brewdock is now open. But with the second summer of the COVID-19 pandemic ahead, she added, many breweries are still struggling with capacity issues.

"I think it's going to be an ongoing thing that getting kegs in there to get on tap is going to be a bit of a struggle," she said. 

"It's really nice that it's been embraced. The public wants it. The stores want it. Customers are coming in and asking for it. That is wonderful."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jeremy Eaton