Newfoundland Brewery Tour: Mill Street Brewpub, St. John’s
Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s is a unique place when you look at craft breweries in Newfoundland. They are different because they fall under the Mill Street umbrella, which first opened in Toronto’s historic Distillery District in 2002. Since then, they have expanded to include a portfolio of over sixty unique beers that have earned over one hundred awards, which include winning Canadian Brewery of the Year three times. They have also opened brewpubs in Ottawa and Calgary and since being purchased by Labatt in 2015, Mill Street has set up shop in St. John’s in 2016.
“We believe in connecting Canada’s proud brewing heritage with today’s innovative craft beer scene in beautiful historic surroundings. St. John’s Newfoundland certainly fits that bill!” Jordan White, Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s sales and marketing manager told The Racket via email. “There is a strong beer culture in Newfoundland that attracted us, as well as unique local ingredients that make for exciting new beer ideas!”
Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s is powered by White and head brewer, Jacoba Mol. Together they manage day-to-day operations and the brewpub and create recipes. The team at Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s are influenced by a variety of different sources when trying to develop new recipes, whether it be a personal favourite beer style, a certain ingredient or even a clever name. “The biggest influencer for us is the province of Newfoundland itself. That could be where local beer trends seem to be heading, what styles are popular, using locally foraged ingredients, or just the Newfoundland culture in general. We love working with the province!” said White.
Recently, Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s partnered with the Newfoundland chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), a non-profit organization whose goal is to “keep at least half of Canada's public land and water wild — forever.” The result of the partnership was the Puffin Plunge, a dry-hopped lager that saw one dollar from every pint sold on August 21 go to CPAWS NL’s Puffin and Petrel Patrol.
“[We] strive to consistently come up with new ideas to learn what beer drinkers are interested in,” said White. This helps separate Mill Street from other breweries in Newfoundland because they create many “one-off” or seasonal brews at a faster rate as if conducting market research. “Popular beers are often repeated, but our St. John’s brewpub is focused on innovation - always looking to discover a new style, trend or fan favourite,” said White.
Here today, and gone tomorrow. This can be a bittersweet thing for craft beer lovers who visit Mill Street Brewpub and find a beer they love. One way to deal with this is by purchasing a growler of that favourite from the brewpub’s shop, or by taking advantage of Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s’ five dollar Happy Hour, where customers can get sixteen-ounce glasses of the house brews from 9:00 PM to close.
You might also be lucky enough for that favourite to be brewed for a national audience. Two Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s recipes have been featured in the Mill Street Brewpub Mix Pack, which is distributed throughout Canada. “Jiggers Delight, a California Common and Capelin Hound, a Session IPA were favourites in St. John’s that the entire country got to enjoy [which was] very exciting!” said White.
White told us that his “personal bias” regarding beer styles include stouts, Belgian beers, and sours. “At the end of the day, we love a good variety of beers. We are big believers that there is a beer out there for everyone and we like to reflect that in our beer offerings each week. We may have anything from a nice easy drinking lager to a double IPA, or a traditional wheat beer to a Belgian dubble.”
After just a little over two years in St. John’s, White said the support from the local community has been “really positive”. “Our customers really seem to enjoy the rotation of beers, local collaborations, and especially our Newfoundland Foraged Beer series with local forager Shawn Dawson of Barking Kettle,” he said. Starting this fall and going into winter 2019, White said the brewpub is planning to introduce a barrel-aged bomber program including thirty bottles of Touton Topper Imperial Molasses Stout and 80 Knots & Distraught, a Belgian Dubbel that is “a bigger, boozier” version of 40 Knots & Distraught that was served earlier this year. The team at Mill Street Brewpub St. John’s are very excited to see what customers think about it these new additions.
The Racket’s Recommendations for a Flight: Away Wit Ya Belgian Wit, Dandy Day English IPA, Seafaring Saison, and Puffin Plunge Dry Hopped Lager.
***As with the nature of breweries and small batches, these brews may not always be on tap.***