Pasadena based Western Newfoundland Brewing Co., brings a taste of the west to craft beer connoisseurs across the island
Those fortunate enough to live in, visit or merely gaze upon western Newfoundland can attest to its unrivaled beauty. It’s calender candy, screen saver fodder and it’s only ripening with age. While no one can argue the pristine natural wonders that go hand-in-hand with that particular slice of our island, being able to capture the essence of the west outside of a snapshot or video-snippet is another beast entirely.
Enter Western Newfoundland Brewing Co., one of the latest entries into the thriving craft beer scene here in Newfoundland and Labrador, and one whose very interest and mandate is the promotion and best-representation of Western Newfoundland.
Co-founder and now permanent island resident Jim MacDonald shared with The Newfoundland Herald that the genesis for the company was formed some three decades ago. MacDonald’s father Norman (who is also his business partner) had the novel idea that an independently produced beer would pair perfectly with his pizza business. Though life and career would steer his family in another direction (his father became a successful chemical engineer), MacDonald himself would find inspiration on this very island during a chance vacation here some six years ago.
“I came out here about six years ago because I was working in television and wanted to go on vacation,” he begins. “I had heard a lot about Newfoundland and how beautiful it was and how wonderful it was. Our family has roots in Cape Breton. We had Atlantic roots and I had been out to the east coast multiple times, but had never come to Newfoundland. I was only supposed to be here for three weeks and I just decided not to leave.”
Western Newfoundland Brewing Co., based out of Pasadena, has all the intangibles that appease craft beer enthusiasts, yet a distinctly home grown flavour and attitude that strikes pallets of a different kind.
“It’s been fun seeing it grow on the west coast,” MacDonald says. “Lots of visitors come through and people get new ideas as to what’s available. There’s a kind of creativity out here which is really, really neat. It’s one of the things that drew me to this area in general, the small communities have a lot of adventurous people who want to start ventures not just to keep them busy because they can see ways of it improving the livelihood of the people around them.”
From western inspired flavours like Wild Cove Pub Ale, Killdevil Pale Ale, Green Gardens Haze and Stout River, to the logo itself, the mythical and hilariously named MerSasquatch, Western Newfoundland Brewing Co., is all-in when it comes to home-grown promotion.
“We wanted to embody how important a place that wild really is. That’s where you have this mythological MerSasquatch,” MacDonald laughs when asked about the company logo. “He’s the best of both worlds, from the tops of the mountains to the bottom of Bonne Bay.
“Newfoundlanders are very much aware of the amount of work that has gone into selling the beauty of Newfoundland as a destination, as a place to love, how special it is to Canada. This isn’t a place to be ignored, it’s a place to be cherished and recognized,” MacDonald adds. “We wanted to really embody that and see what we could do and bring as much as we could to the island. We wanted to take the magic of what we see western Newfoundland to be and do our best to embody that in the drink and to reflect that in the way that we package and market it and make people feel that when they’re drinking it.”
MacDonald, while very aware of the growing market for locally produced craft beer, believes the change in attitude goes far beyond purchasing delicious frothy beverages.
“It’s not just a pallet for the drink itself, though that’s certainly true, but also a pallet for that kind of business,” he says. “We’re seeing it in other industries as well … it’s not just a matter of buying local for the sake of buying local, but people are understanding where their products are coming from a little bit more. You see it with fishermen where people want to understand where a certain fish was caught and how it was caught and how these things are sourced and how does this producer fit into their community. When you have larger companies, when you get very large, it becomes very questionable as to what it is. They can put money into things, but they’re not necessarily putting a considered hand into the community in the same way. People want to support these smaller companies for that.”
As for plans of expansion, MacDonald has no designs of keeping his product niche. The demand for high quality craft goodness is at an all-time high, and Western Newfoundland Brewing Co., plan on striking while the irons are hot.
“We want to be province-wide as quickly as we can,” he says. “It’s important for us to represent the communities and to bring awareness to smaller places. That’s something we’re big on. We want to be in places like St. John’s or elsewhere in the country and let people know about Flowers Cove, Port aux Basques, St. Anthony, everywhere along the west coast. That’s really what we’re trying to sell, it’s here.”
For more information on where to purchase and more visit westernnewfoundlandbrewing.ca or visit them in house at 23 Stentaford Ave., Pasadena.