BAY ROBERTS, N.L.
Mark Burry and Julian Kean used to be satisfied with simply brewing beer in their homes.
“It started initially as a way to save money. Instead of buying beer every weekend, you’d brew up a batch,” Burry admitted during a chat with The Compass in the confines of his soon-to-open brewery in Bay Roberts.
“But it got really interesting when we started seeing craft beer come on to the shelves here in Newfoundland.”
The Glovertown natives (Burry and Kean are also third-cousins) grew more adventurous with they’re brewing. Beer was a frequent topic of conversation for the pair, who both lived in St. John’s. The fact so many new breweries were popping up across Newfoundland didn’t go unnoticed. They started brainstorming on areas of the island with a solid population base that didn’t already have a microbrewery established.
“And that’s kind of how we found this place,” said Burry, who worked as an engineer before pursuing this business. “We ended up buying this building and everything started to come together.”
And with that, the Baccalieu Trail Brewing Company was born. Located on the Conception Bay Highway on the very edge of Bay Roberts’ municipal border with Spaniard’s Bay, the brewery expects to open before the end of this fall. It will be the first microbrewery to open in Conception Bay North since the Freshwater Brewing Company established itself 23 years ago in Carbonear (it was renamed Storm Brewing and later moved to Mount Pearl).
Burry, who has since moved to the area, has an interest in the Conception Bay North’s history and intends to honour it through the names of beer brewed onsite. For starters, Baccalieu Trail Brewing will offer four styles — a New England IPA (known for its juiciness and hazy appearance), a blonde ale, a porter and an English bitter.
“We had recipes where we kind of worked out all the kinks and that we really liked, and we said, ‘This is what we really want our beer to taste like. Let’s see if we can reproduce that on the big system.”
So far, Burry and Kean are getting the results they hoped for. The first batch of the blonde ale had to be tossed, but everything brewed since has tasted as it should.
“It’s kind of like baking. You can take a muffin recipe, scale it up, and it won’t necessarily make a good cake recipe,” Burry explained. “It’s the same with this, because it’s all malt and grains and a bunch of different ingredients coming together. But now I think we have the kinks ironed out.”
Since starting out, Burry and Kean have received considerable support from fellow brewers engaged in the province’s craft beer industry, including folks from the Port Rexton Brewery, Mill Street in St. John’s and the Dildo Brewing Company, the latter of whom only opened this summer.
“I’ve got to say, the whole community of craft brewers has been really helpful,” he said.
Renovations to the building were extensive, with windows added around the back to show off the beauty of the neighbouring wetlands, where birds commonly frolic. Work on the brewery side is pretty much complete, with all the industrial equipment in use for producing beer. Once the food establishment license is in place (there are sinks and other items to install for that), they’ll move on to the liquor license.
“Even if the taproom is not finished, I’m thinking we’ll be able to sell (1.9-litre refillable) growlers — because they’re packaged and ready to go — while we’re finishing up (the taproom),” Burry said.
Burry is stoked to be so close to the finish line for opening.
“This is really exciting for us,” Burry said, adding he hopes the business can become a space for the community.