Newfoundland Brewery Tour: Storm Brewing, Mount Pearl
When we launched our Newfoundland brewery tour, our friend My Year in Beer began referring to it as a “virtual” brewery tour. While we visited each of the breweries we profiled, readers were getting a virtual experience from our articles and we are going to continue doing so, this time with a brewery that we didn’t visit; Storm Brewing in Mount Pearl. The Racket chatted with the one owners of Storm, Kristi McBride via email.
Storm Brewing originally was founded in Carbonear in 1995 under the name Freshwater Brewing Co. before changing to the name they currently operate under in 1999 when co-owner Michael McBride was inspired by a painting with the same name that he saw at the Arts and Culture Center.
The McBrides were the province’s first modern era craft brewery specializing in brewing traditional British and specialty ales. When asked how Storm Brewing differs from the other craft breweries in the province, Michael pointed to their authentic British brewing system that Storm Brewing brought to Newfoundland by way of California. “[We also have] a strong focus on environmental sustainability,” said McBride. “Storm Brewing innovated growing oyster and shiitake mushrooms on brewery spent grain based on techniques learned in Africa in 1997.”
Storm Brewing also pioneered a Hemp (Cannabis Sativa) Ale in 1998 and was re-released this week in celebration of Canada having legalized cannabis. This ale is crafted using “only water, malted barley, imported hops, yeast, and of course hemp seeds that impart mellow nutty flavours and herbal aromas.” (Commonly referred to as “weed beer”, Storm’s Hemp Ale is currently available on draught at the Ship Pub and the Quidi Vidi tap room, and in bottles using original labels at select St. John’s NLC and convenience stores.)
Of all the craft breweries in the province, Storm may be the most famous. In 2005 they were featured in the board game Brewopoly and was featured in the Bicycle North American Craft Beer playing card deck, as the 8 of Diamonds in 2017. Storm’s ales have also been featured in films like The Shipping News, Beat Down and the television show Republic of Doyle.
Michael worked for a number of breweries in Ontario before taking the things he learned back to Newfoundland to start Storm Brewing. The McBrides are graduates Bishop’s University in Quebec, they take inspiration from Lion d’Or in Lennoxville Quebec. “Our first exposure to craft brewed beer was at the Golden Lion pub in 1987,” said McBride. She also listed Lorne Hart of Hart Breweries in Carleton Place Ontario and John Sleeman of Sleeman Breweries as well as breweries she and Michael have visited across the globe from Iceland to South Africa as brewing inspirations.
The McBrides pointed out that starting a brewery isn’t all traveling around the world and trying pints everywhere you go. “Operating a brewery takes considerable energy, from sourcing and bringing in all materials from off the island, production & packaging, to the mountains of paperwork for the provincial and federal governments,” said McBride. “It takes passion, [it’s] a labour of love.”
The reason we didn’t visit Storm Brewing is that they do not have a taproom or provide brewery tours. Instead, craft beer lovers can get pints of Storm at the Delta Hotel, the Ship Pub, and the Duke of Duckworth (as featured on Republic of Doyle). You can also purchase 650ml singles and 6x341ml long necks are available at select bars, restaurants, NLC stores and corner stores such as Needs Convenience throughout St. John’s.
The McBrides have no plans to open a taproom and capitalize on the craft brewery book in Newfoundland and said they are currently focused on brewing good craft ales like their Raspberry Wheat Ale, which has been on Quidi Vidi Brewing Co’s guest tap for a good portion of the summer.
This speaks to the support within the industry that Alicia MacDonald, of Port Rexton Brewing, spoke of when she chatted with The Racket. McBride agreed and said Storm Brewing has a “great working relationships with breweries in NL, across Canada and many international craft, regional and multinational breweries.”