Newfoundland Brewery Tour: Crooked Feeder Brewing Co., Cormack, NL
The west coast of Newfoundland is getting in on the craft brewery boom that the rest of the province is experiencing. Last fall, The Racket profiled Corner Brook’s Bootleg Brew Co., one of the five breweries we visited over a week-long summer vacation. Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. in Cormack, was not open to the public yet, but things have been moving ahead steadily since then.
Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. is owned by Robert Sutton, Corey Wight, and Ray Brake, who spoke to The Racket via email. Sutton and Wight, passionate home brewers teamed up with Brake, who owns Digital Advertising Solutions in Corner Brook to take their brewing to the next level. “We all had a feeling [a brewery] was something we could put together,” said Brake. “In the spring of 2017, we decided to take the plunge and build our brewery. Robb is the builder, Corey is the brewmaster and I bring the business and marketing experience.”
The group received their final NLC licensing in November 2018 and Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. was officially a go. Named after the “Crooked Feeder” stream system near the exit to Howley from the Trans Canada Highway, the goal was named the brewery after something that would resonate with Newfoundlanders and be intriguing to tourists. “This seemed to be a good fit, especially since Robb and Corey have had cabins in that region for many years,” said Brake.
If these Newfoundland brewery tours have just one overarching theme, it’s that each brewery has something unique. Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. is the first craft brewery in the province to have their brew system locally fabricated. “This was partially done out of necessity,” admitted Brake. “But we also recognized it was something we had the skills to accomplish. It also aligned itself with one of our themes of being locally focused.”
Keeping things local is important to Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. Melvin Rideout, a farmer in Cormack works to provide the brewery with many of the grains they need for their recipes. “Once the grains are used in the brewing process, the spent grains still have a lot of nutritional value,” said Brake. “The cattle farmer up the road from our brewery uses much of the spent grain to help feed his cattle. In return, we eventually receive protein from the cattle farmer. It’s locally focused, to say the least. We will be able to eventually serve a beer and a burger that was produced by the same local grains. For us, this is something that differentiates us from the other breweries in the province.”
In terms of brewing, Brake believes you should brew what you love to drink. “[We have] a desire to brew the same beers we learned to love as home brewers but at a larger scale to service a larger populace than just the three of us,” he said. “[We also have that] typical hardworking Newfoundlander mentality, no quit just do it,” he added. They had no easy way to procure a larger scale shiny new brew system so they used the smallest budget imaginable and stretched it until they could squeeze a workable large batch system that would allow for larger batches of the beer they liked.
Hoppy beers are what the team behind Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. like to drink. “IPAs and Pale ales; beer with flavour!” said Brake. We also love reds, simple ales and stouts, but the range of profiles that hoppy beers allow for is fun!”
The first offering from Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. we tried was their Pale Wheat. A hoppy, yet refreshing pale ale that should be sure to please craft beer enthusiasts and those who are looking to try something new. Their White River Wit is a refreshing offering to the local craft beer scene as many of the breweries haven’t done much with the Belgian Wit despite the popularity of brands like Belgian Moon and Shock Top.
Brake said that Crooked Feeder is very open to honest feedback from customers whether it be positive or negative. “That said, the response has been overwhelmingly positive! If someone doesn’t like our beer it’s mainly because they don’t like the style of beer. That’s fine by us and part of the reason we try to brew styles across the craft beer spectrum,” he said.
Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. is hoping to have a taproom in Cormack open to the public this summer. “We started our brewery with limited funding but lots of heart and backcountry know how,” said Brake. “It was important for us to focus on the brewhouse first so we could build it more suitable for our startup. We had limited brew days so we wanted to maximize our production per brew. This allowed us to get our craft beer to market, helping to build our brand during the tourism slow season and generate cash flow we could put towards completing the tap room.” He promised Crooked Feeder’s taproom would be “immersive” and “unique”.
While we’re waiting for the taproom to open, Crooked Feeder Brewing Co.’s brews can be found at locations in St. John’s like Jack Axes, Toslow, Fort Amherst Pub, The Guv’nor, Jack Astors, Merchant Tavern, Green Door Restaurant, Bernard Stanley Gastro Pub, Chinched Restaurant and Deli and as a guest tap at Landwash Brewery, Quidi Vidi Brewery. If you live on the west coast, you can find Crooked Feeder at Newfound Sushi, Sorrento, Gitanos, Boston Pizza, Madisons, The Jackladder, and as a guest tap at Bootleg Brew Co. and Secret Cove Brewery.