The dam of craft beer in Newfoundland is about to be tapped. When I left home six years ago, there wasn’t much of a scene here. Besides mass produced beers like India and Dominion (made by Molson) or Quidi Vidi’s small selection, there wasn’t much happening. Storm Brewing opened in 1995 but I’d tried it once and hated it, Yellow Belly Brewery was just getting underway and my taste for local beer was nominal.
Then I moved to Halifax. The craft beer scene has erupted like a beer keg in the past few years. From working at a bar to blogging about beer festivals I dived into a never-ending glass of suds. It was impossible to avoid — there are more than 16 craft breweries in Halifax alone. Now I’m back in Newfoundland with a taste for IPA and my Haligonian friends are jealous I went to opening weekend at Port Rexton Brewing. There are five more breweries opening across Newfoundland soon, so stay tuned for the brewery explosion.
Adam and I have been home in Newfoundland about a week. A week too long to not have visited Port Rexton Brewing, and we had the perfect sunny day for a road trip. It’s May and there were still spots of snow along the way but the road was clear for the three-hour Instagrammable drive. The brewery is not hard to find: coming over the hill into Port Rexton, the white building and large signage are easily spotted.
Sampling the goods
Port Rexton Brewing was opened in 2016 by co-owners Alicia MacDonald and Sonja Mills to an eager beer-drinking crowd. The place was packed when we arrived 30 minutes after the taproom opened on Saturday afternoon. To start, we sampled four different brews (the taproom typically has eight lines flowing). From left to right pictured below: Chasing Sun New England IPA (ABV 5.8%, IBU 45), Clear as Mud Dunkelweisen collaboration with Mill Street (ABV 5.2%, IBU 22), Mixed Opportunity Saison (ABV 6.5%, IBU 23) and Horse Chops IPA (ABV 6.3%, IBU 72). They were all freaking delicious. I was immediately impressed.
Adam was driving so I has another glass of Chasing Sun, my favourite of the day. With hints of citrus, this hazy brew was the perfect mix of IPA and saison for my ideal summer beer. There are two sizes of suds at Port Rexton Brewing: the 500ml Mason jar, or the 250ml Mason jar. In any other place I would have rolled my eyes at the Mason jar, but in outport Newfoundland it works. Like Nan brought them over from her root cellar for the girls to use in their new endeavour.
Oh my cheeses, that’s deadly
Who doesn’t love grilled cheese and a pint? Oh My Cheeses was set up inside the taproom for opening weekend at Port Rexton Brewing. This punny grilled cheese company can be found regularly at St. John’s Farmers Market and other events across the province with sammies like Saucy Brudder with 5 Brothers Secret Gallows, Sriracha mayo, bacon and carmelized onion, or the Kevin McCallister plain grilled cheese. Hello Partridgeberry and Brie grilled cheese — I could eat you everyday.
The bright, sunny taproom overlooks the brewery equipment and bright artwork pairs well with cherry red chairs and stools. Our loot bag for the visit was a growler of Horse Chops IPA to enjoy in our new home when we move this weekend, but I have a feeling I’ll be back often. I already feel at home.