Can’t Do a Newfoundland Brewery Tour? Jack Axe’s Should Be Your Next Target
The Racket’s Newfoundland craft brewery tour has been one of the most popular rackets we’ve gotten into. There are a number of breweries located in St. John’s and surrounding area, but if you want to go all out, visiting each one of the breweries in their “hometowns” would take a while. This time of year is not really conducive to an island-wide road trip though, but if you are based around St. John’s, there is a place you can visit to get your craft beer fix and throw a few axes.
Jack Axe’s is part of “an expanding chain of urban hip axe throwing lounges” and is owned by cousins Adrian Beaton and Paul Macinnis and promotes a philosophy of “axes, beer, and community”.
Initially, the idea for Jack Axe’s was to present the fun activity of axe throwing as a sport and a bar was not part of the business model. According to Beaton, establishments in Ontario that are similar to Jack Axe’s operate under a BYOB basis, but that couldn’t be done in St. John’s. “As soon as we realized we had to serve on own beer it was a no brainer that it would be craft beer only. Were personal lovers of craft beer, but more importantly, our target market loves craft beer,” he said via email.
Jack Axe’s has an ever-changing number of craft breweries represented at their bar. The breweries themselves usually reach out to Jack Axe’s but if not, Beaton contacts them. “I make sure that I make it down to their breweries to purchase their products,” he said. “Supporting local is incredibly important to our business model and [to me] personally. So I make a point of buying a flight of beer and then a pint of beer for myself at every brewery I go to.”
Beaton has been to nearly every brewery tour on the island with the exception of Split Rock which is ironic since Jack Axe’s serves a lot of their beer, and Beaton raves about their product. He thinks the expansion of the craft beer industry in Newfoundland is “phenomenal”.
“If Jacks and Halimac (sister location in Halifax) ever went tits up I would get involved with craft beer somehow,” said Beaton. “[Craft brewery owners are] amazing people to work with, supportive, happy, positive, and truly, truly invested in their craft. I have not seen anything like it in any other industry and I feel like its special.” He also believes that the scene can grow “a lot more” but does feel “we will hit a plateau very soon”.
Beaton believes the industry can get past the by spreading beer knowledge to Newfoundlanders who might not be drinking beer produced at a craft brewery. Jack Axe’s is trying to help spread that knowledge. Currently, axe throwers can try local craft beers from Quidi Vidi Brewing Co., Crooked Feeder Brewing, Bootleg Brew Co., Baccalieu Trail Brewing, YellowBelly Brewery, Port Rexton Brewing, and Landwash Brewery, by the pint or even try a few in a flight.
Since the bar at Jack Axe’s only serves craft beer, Beaton said they are met with two types of responses from customers, being either “I wanted Coors Light” or “Wow, what a selection!”
“I feel like Quidi Vidi really needs a pat on the back for breaking down barriers, particularly with Iceberg. I see that beer as the missing link [for Newfoundlanders who may not drink craft beer]. It’s easy to drink for everyone and [while] most hardcore craft beer drinkers may snub it, every Coors Light and Bud Light drinker I hand that to goes ‘mmm that’s pretty good’ and you can see their preconceptions of craft beer being broken down.”
Currently, Jack Axes is going though many changes. They are hosting the Canadian Open tournament at their Halifax location and are opening a fourth location while restructuring the entire company. “Things are a little hectic at the moment and I look forward to getting back to doing what we love and what we're good at [which is] showing people a good time in [a] unique atmosphere [while] supporting our community.”
Since the crew at Jack Axe’s are committed to collaboration and community, we concluded our interview with Beaton by asking his thoughts about the current state of St. John’s downtown business and community scene, specifically after the news of businesses like Fixed closing, or companies like Exxon Mobil leaving.
“Downtown St. John's has given our company everything it has and I am endlessly grateful for that. There are without a doubt some issues downtown but the tone of the media and many other people is that it’s a lost cause. I do not believe that for a second nor do I think that such an attitude is anyway productive,” he said. Beaton noted that the downtown is going through a change, but hopes that collaboration between the city, landlords, and tenants alike can lead to a resurgence.
“I run a company that serves local beer exclusively and supports our local area as much as possible and would love to see a huge small business push downtown. Imagine how cool our downtown center would be if it was completely full of unique and creative businesses?”
For more information about Jack Axe’s, and to book a lane, you can visit their website.. Be sure to keep an eye out for their latest craft beer offerings by liking them on Facebook or following them on Instagram, @jackaxesinc