Newfoundland Brewery Tour: Landwash Brewery, Mount Pearl, NL
Not even a visit from the Wicked Witch of Winter can stop Newfoundland’s newest craft brewery. Landwash Brewery, located in Mount Pearl officially opened to the public on December 6 after months of growing social media presence. Chris Conway, one of Landwash’s owners spoke to The Racket via email about the brewery and we were able to check it out for ourselves a couple of days after (and during a lighter sprinkling of snow).
Along with Conway, Christina Coady and Jennifer Defreyne are the brain trust behind Landwash Brewery. “Christina and I were the founding brewers at Toronto’s Folly Brewpub which we helped launch back in 2015,” said Conway. “We had a lot of fun working there and brewing various mixed fermentation saisons and funky barrel aged sours, but always wanted to eventually return to our home province of Newfoundland to brew here.”
After meeting Defreyne who was an engineer at Vale’s project in Long Harbour and chatting about craft beer, the idea to open a brewery started fermenting. “We just kinda went from talking about building a brewery to actually putting together a business plan,” said Conway. “We worked on that together long distance for a few months and then made the jump, quitting our brewing and engineering jobs, and got going.”
Conway and Coady are in charge of the day-to-day operations at Landwash while Defreyne serves as a mentor and as Conway describes, “an engineering expert” helping with the all the “big picture” stuff involved in running the brewery. “The process of starting a brewery is basically a huge effort to wrangle a bunch of mechanical and electrical systems [including] steam, glycol, water, controls and ingredients [like] hops, malts, [and] yeast [as well as] a whole bunch of paperwork and legislation, “he said. Despite all of this, Conway said that things went fairly smoothly for Landwash and there weren’t many issues other than the amount of work and hours to be put in in order to launch such a massive project.
Landwash gets its name from Conway’s grandmother who used the term to refer to the beach in Branch where his mother’s family originates. “The Newfoundland dictionary calls it the area between the high and low tide marks on a beach, but we take it as that kind of family bonfire on the beach that is so familiar to so many Newfoundlanders,” he explained.
As the number of craft breweries throughout the province increases, as does the need to differentiate from peers. Conway said people have pointed out three different things that set Landwash apart from the rest. “One is we’re in the metro region in Mount Pearl, rather than out in a smaller community more dependent on tourism,” he said. “We’re a neighborhood brewery, which is pretty typical in most of North America, but it’s new here.” The taproom feels like it is geared toward the neighbourhood as it only has a capacity of 48, which might be something to keep in mind if you are planning on visiting during peak hours.
That said, Landwash is also differentiating themselves from the other breweries in the province because they are offering canned beers since opening which is a great trade-off in case you can’t get a seat in the taproom. “We’ve [also] brewed elsewhere [in Toronto] and [we] can bring some interesting techniques to kettle sours and hazy IPAs that we’ve learned working with great Ontario breweries,” said Conway.
With this experience brings a pretty broad range of brewing influences. “We brewed mostly Belgian-inspired beers and barrel aged, funky, sour beers at Folly in Toronto, but here we’re keeping more with modern American with some German leanings,” said Conway. The team behind Landwash are interested in what the breweries in New England like Maine Brewing Co., Bissel Brothers as well as breweries in New Brunswick like Trailway are up to. “We think of Newfoundland as a place where the extension of that brewing culture could thrive, so that everywhere from Boston to St. John’s there are fun, flavourful modern craft beers,” said Conway.
He said the crew at Landwash love hazy IPAs, crispy lagers, and super bright sours and it shows in the beers they have brewed so far. Their “One Wave” Blonde Ale is light, citrusy and much more pleasant than any of the local blonde ales being poured up at craft breweries in Newfoundland. Their “Brackish” Sour Ale, made from Newfoundland sea salt has been hailed by local beer blogger and brewer myyearinbeer as “hands down” her favourite sour in the province. We even liked the flight sized “Hazures’ Rock” Breakfast Stout we tried (and we usually never like stouts) and could really taste the coffee from Jumping Bean.
The prices at Landwash are also very affordable. A flight will cost ten dollars and two cans of “Brackish” and a Landwash sticker costs the same. (Cans were selling quickly and as of Saturday only the sour and stout remained, and it looks like they are down to the stout as of now).
Conway said he was happy with Landwash’s opening weekend. “We had a crazy lineup in a blizzard on our opening night and still had to do last call at 10 (our normal closing time) to a room full of people who didn’t want to brave the 20 cm of snow!” He thanked the “always supportive” city of Mount Pearl, family, other breweries, and “people we don’t even know who are really enjoying the beer and our space” and said it was a bit overwhelming but he wants to get back to brewing as soon as possible so Landwash can offer more to patrons.
The Racket’s Recommendations for a Flight: Landwash has said they are in the “soft opening” stages and plans to hold a grand opening in the new year with more brews. For now, there are four beers on tap and they make for a great introduction as to what Landwash is going to offer, and as The Overcast reported, popular food truck, Saucy Mouth is parking inside the brewery for the winter.