Did you know one can actually be afraid of an empty beer glass? Luckily on St. John’s Beer Tours, cenosillicaphobia isn’t a problem. We all know how I’ve been praising taking cooking classes, now I have another regret: not taking a freaking beer tour! I’ve visited beer-boroughs like Munich, London and Chicago and never once did a beer tour — what was I thinking? I haven’t lived! So, when I heard Kayla Walters (I follow her fab account on Instagram) was starting up St. John’s Beer Tours I knew I had to see what it was all about!
Ultimate Townie Brew Tour
There are four different tours to choose from, ranging from a scoff and a sip in Quidi Vidi with Scuff & Scoff in the Village to axe-throwing and beer tasting with the Axes & Ales Tour. The tour I did was the Ultimate Townie Brew Tour. It takes places on Saturday afternoons, the perfect time for day-boiling. All the locations of the Ultimate Townie Beer Tours are in Downtown St. John’s making it easy to walk around and enjoy the scene (and all the beer).
Yellowbelly Brewery beginnings
The first stop for St. John’s Beer Tours’ Ultimate Townie Brew Tour is Yellowbelly Brewery. We all met in the Underbelly, the speakeasy-type bar in the basement of the brewpub, to hear brewmaster Liam Mckenna talk about all things beer. I won’t divulge all the interesting hoppy bits (you’ll have to take the tour), but did you know the main pigment in beer is red? Even those yellow-looking wheat beers and black-as-night stouts are shades of red!
Liam showed us around the brewery — which is housed in a building built in 1740 — explaining the process of making the standard beers at the brewery. There’s a lot of technical talk, but there’s a reward: BEER! We sampled the four regulars — Fighting Irish Red, St. John’s Stout, Wexford Wheat and Yellowbelly Pale Ale, along with a surprise sampling of their cider (bonus).
Brown bottle history
After Yellowbelly we followed Kayla as she led us to some historical points of interest in Downtown St. John’s. You know there was some good beer history in there too (yes, there was a bucket of beer involved with the Great Fire of 1892). Even as a born-and-raised St. John’s resident, I learned a lot and went down some streets I’d never seen before!
Fifth Ticket munchies
The second pitstop on the Ultimate Townie Brew Tour is The Fifth Ticket. This restaurant and lounge offered up samples from two different breweries: Port Rexton Brewing and Quidi Vidi Brewing Company. We also got to choose from a special menu; from polenta fries to chicken wings, there’s a nice selection pairing well with beer (obviously)! I went with the poutine made with fat curds from local cheesemaker Five Brothers.
Mill Street local brews
The third stop brought us to St. John’s Mill Street Brew Pub. I’ve had Mill Street brews before — I basically lived on top of the brewery in Toronto — but I didn’t know they brew their very own beers here in St. John’s. Dan chatted to us about the beer while we sampled two classic hops; the ever-popular Mill Street Organic and the West Coast IPA. I fell in love with the Capelin Hound, the locally-brewed Session IPA, and the Terrazza Italian style lager is perfect for sunny days on the patio.
Screech-In (not) optional
The fun doesn’t stop if you want to keep partying. St. John’s Beer Tours will take you to Christian’s Bar for a Screech-In if you want to become an honourary Newfoundlander (believe me, you want to), or just to keep drinking with all the friends you made along the way!
The Ultimate Townie Brew Tour is a great tour to go on with a bunch of friends (hello awesome bachelorette), or alone if you want to make a bunch of new ones. It’s the perfect crash course in Newfoundland beer, or a revitalizing refresher if you know them well.