East meets yeast: Microbrewery in the works for Port au Port

Port Au Port East businessman Jason Hynes plans to build and operate a microbrewery on Newfoundland's Port Au Port Peninsula, based on the success of similar operations in other parts of Atlantic Canada.

Company founders hoping to cash in on the growing interest in craft beer

The co-owners of Secret Cove microbrewery, Jason Hynes and Sheila Dwyer, say Nova Scotia has 45 breweries, and there is potential in Newfoundland and Labrador. (submitted photo)

They're called Secret Cove Brewing Company, but they're not shy to spill about plans for a new, craft beer microbrewery on the Port Au Port Peninsula.

Company founder Jason Hynes hopes to be in production by early 2018 in Port Au Port East, a 20 minute-drive from Stephenville.

Besides the soon-to-be-built production facility, Secret Cove is planning on having a tap room — already dubbed "The Well" — where people can sample the beers. 

Fill up a 'growler'

Hynes said people will be able to "fill up some growlers, visit the brewery, take a tour, learn a little about the brewing process, hopefully take some beer home and have a little brewing experience."

Growlers are air-tight jugs, made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel and used to carry draft beer from one place to another while preserving the taste and quality.

Secret Cove on the Port Au Port Peninsula inspired the name of a new microbrewery, slated to open in Port Au Port East in early 2018. (submitted photo)

Hynes and Sheila Dwyer, who co-own the business, lived in Nova Scotia for five years before moving to Hynes's home area of Port au Port last December.

"There's 45 breweries in Nova Scotia," he said. 

"We saw an opportunity here. The boom [in the number of microbreweries] hopefully will happen here on the island. It's been a little slow to take over here, but we're hoping that the business will generate a bit of activity, and that people will catch on to the craft beer craze that's taken over." 

Hynes is hoping to attract loyal customers in the Bay St. George region, as well as tourists.

"People are excited about the project. We're super excited to get it off the ground."

Beer drinkers will find you

Hynes said his business could help get economic activity foaming in the Port Au Port region. 

"A lot of times, craft microbreweries are a destination. Craft beer drinkers will seek them out," Hynes said, noting that a small operation in Port Rexton,Trinity Bay, seems to be doing well in attracting tourists.

Marketing photo for the Secret Cove microbrewery. Its founder hopes it will help promote tourism on the Port Au Port Peninsula. (submitted photo)

Secret Cove Brewing Company is named after a picturesque cove near the land the company will build on in Port Au Port East.

In Hynes's estimation, "we have the ocean view and we have the mountain view and the Port Au Port area is beautiful, so we're hoping it will be a destination, an experience."

Busy summer ahead

It promises to be a busy summer for Hynes and Dwyer.

"We're going to have a building, we have the land prepped. We just have to go through some of the government processes here, including an environmental assessment," Hynes said.

Former Memorial University biochemistry student Jason Hynes brewed his first glass of beer in 1997. (Submitted)

He brewed his first beer at Memorial University in 1997, and used his bio-chemistry background to get the mixture just right. Now, 20 years later, "we're quite happy with the beer we're making. We just got to get a building built and get the doors open," said Hynes. 


Brian McHugh


Brian McHugh is a broadcast technician CBC Newfoundland Morning, and an announcer-operator and occasional program contributor based in Corner Brook.

With files from the Corner Brook Morning Show