Nfld. & Labrador

Tapping into a long-held dream: Pasadena company set to launch craft beer

There's something brewing on the western Newfoundland, and it's sure to make craft beer lovers hoppy.

Pasadena-based Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. using small-batch process

Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. owners Jennifer Galliott, Norm MacDonald and Jim MacDonald are starting with two styles of beer. (Submitted by Jim MacDonald)

There's something brewing in western Newfoundland, and it's sure to make craft beer lovers hoppy — and it fulfils the dream of an entrepreneur who has wanted to sell his own suds for decades. 

Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. is the latest player in the craft beer scene in the province, and it's even smaller than other craft beer producers that have changed drinking habits for beer lovers in bigger cities.

The company is what's called a "nanobrewery," which is even smaller than the standard microbrewery model. In a few weeks, it will release its small-batch product to the marketplace. 

"We only brew between two to three barrels of beer in a batch," company president Jim MacDonald told CBC. 

A single batch yields no more than six kegs, with each keg containing 30 litres — or enough beer for 62 pints. 

'The market was open'

The company is the latest craft brewery to join the craze. But don't consider them as hopping on the bandwagon — the idea for the project started nearly 40 years ago for Norm MacDonald, one of the three partners of the company, but life and raising a family got in the way. 

Producing beer from a plant in Pasadena, Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. will start selling to local companies in mid-December. (Gary Moore/CBC)

MacDonald, who was looking for a post-retirement project, is a chemical engineer by training, and brings a background to management accounting to his work as director of operations. 

"They're all secret recipes, sort of like the Colonel [Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken]," he joked, adding that how beer is made is as critical to the flavour as the ingredients. 

"It isn't just the recipe. It's actually the process that we follow, which is a little bit different than whatever everyone else is following. It's a little bit based on chemical kinetics." 

Now, his son Jim is one of his business partners, and the former pipe dream is ready to sell to local companies, including bars and restaurants. 

"The market was open. There are no other breweries in western Newfoundland," Jim MacDonald said.

Hopped up on local

One of the priorities of the company is to keep its product connected to the west coast. Their flagship beer is named after Killdevil Mountain in Gros Morne National Park. 

Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. will produce only six kegs with each batch. (Gary Moore/CBC)

"The western region is very much into hiking [and] outdoors activities, so we're going to link into that and work with that," said Jennifer Galliott, who handles marketing and sales for the company. 

Right now, it's tapping into the market with two beers, Killdevil Pale Ale and Wild Cove Cream Ale, which will be available on tap in select places around the west coast as early as mid-December. 

The company — which is set up in the industrial area of Pasadena, just east of Corner Brook — is starting small, but has plenty of plans.

Plans for cans

The brewery hopes to eventually offer a tap room, where customers can taste and purchase growlers, which typically contain 64 ounces. 

Galliott said the company would like to move into other consumer products, too. 

"We're going to start off with on tap first, and then move into cans," she said. 

Meanwhile, a long process of experimentation is paying off. 

"It's getting harder for us to make a bad beer, which is wonderful," said Jim MacDonald. 

Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. hopes to sell cans directly to customers in the future. (Submitted by Jim MacDonald)


Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.