Local Brewery and Home Brewers Proud of their Queer Feeling

Have you ever had a Queer Feeling? If you were at Port Rexton Brewing Co. for their Port Rexton Pride 2019 celebrations you may have. Queer Feeling is a collaboration between the brewery and the homebrew collective known as Queer Beer NL. The Racket got a special insight into how Kveik Farmhouse Ale featuring a sweet and spicy aroma with hints of melon candy came together for our readers.

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You may not be aware of Queer Beer NL but they are amassing quite the following on both Facebook and Instagram as well as in the local craft beer community. The group based in St. John’s began in March 2018 and is currently comprised of The Racket’s own Aaron Patey (one half of Mosaic.Wit), and Natalie Dignam, as well as founding members, Stacey Pike, and Terra Barrett. They believe that “beer is for everyone” and aim to promote that inclusivity when brewing and through their book club “Brews and Books” which got up and running during summer 2019.

Queer Beer NL’s new logo designed by Graham Blair.

Queer Beer NL’s new logo designed by Graham Blair.

Queer Feeling was brewed Labour Day weekend and the second collaboration between the brewery and the homebrewers after their Come Out Wit Ya wit bier for the first Port Rexton Pride.

Like many craft breweries, Port Rexton Brewing Co. has been known to collaborate with other breweries and groups. Co-owner and head brewer Alicia MacDonald said via email that collaborations are a fun experience and a great way to share knowledge. “Whether we are collaborating with another local brewery, a brewery off the island like we did with Tatamagouche Brewing Co. in Nova Scotia, or other businesses like the Newfoundland Salt Company, we enjoy having people into our space, sharing stories, laughing a bunch and learning from one another.”

Terra Barrett, Natalie Dignam, Aaron Patey, Alicia MacDonald & Stacey Pike. Photo courtesy of Queer Beer.

Terra Barrett, Natalie Dignam, Aaron Patey, Alicia MacDonald & Stacey Pike. Photo courtesy of Queer Beer.

Regarding Queer Feeling, MacDonald said this collaboration was “extra special for her and her wife, Sonja Mills (also co-owner of the brewery). “As a married couple and local Port Rextonites (I just made that up), the Town of Port Rexton celebrates Port Rexton Pride which we are very happy about. Celebrating pride with Queer Beer is a no brainer; Love+Beer= an amazing collab and I think the Queer Beer team enjoyed themselves here. We laughed a lot about what to the call the collab, we drank different mainland beers talked about styles, and hopefully we were able to help their homebrew adventures with a few tips as well.”

Port Rexton Brewing Co. owners Alicia MacDonald & Sonja Mills (Courtesy of Port Rexton Brewing Co.)

Port Rexton Brewing Co. owners Alicia MacDonald & Sonja Mills (Courtesy of Port Rexton Brewing Co.)

The collaboration was more than just brainstorming names while taste-testing beer though. The day started early at 7:30 AM and Queer Beer took part in the entire brewing process from measuring the grains for the recipe to stirring the mashed grains in water by hand using a paddle to release the sugars. (This is no easy feat. Imagine stirring a giant pot of thick oatmeal).

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They helped add the hops and add the yeast, and took part in the cleanup. They even helped keg some Chasing Sun!

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Queer Beer was also involved in the marketing process as they helped name the beer and design a look for a future can release. “My husband and I ended up designing the main graphic on the can, inspired by our new logo for Queer Beer NL,” said Natalie Dignam. “I think it came out pretty fun, but it also shows how Sonja and Alicia as business owners in Port Rexton put this amazing Pride event in motion, starting with their brewery.”

Queer Feeling is just one of the many examples of using the industry using craft beer as a platform to give visibility to causes around acceptance. This year, the Merb’ys collaborated with Landwash Brewery and Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. in 2018 to launch their charity calendar that raises funds and promotes body positivity, inclusion, and acceptance.

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“I think it’s really cool that Newfoundland craft breweries, like a lot of small business owners, are really invested in their home communities for events like Pride because it touches the lives of their customers, neighbours, and fellow residents,” said Dignam.

Queer Feeling was released at Port Rexton Brewing Co.’s taproom on Friday, September 13 as part of Port Rexton Pride with one dollar from every full pint sold was donated back to the festival.

Response from patrons and bar staff was positive and The Racket’s own Mosaic.Wit made the trip out to take part in the festivities and try the beer on Saturday, September 14. “I was so happy with how the beer turned out!” said Aaron Patey. “Being part of the brewing process was a dream come true.”

That night, the second annual Bands at the Brewery event was held at the taproom featuring local acts Family Video and Thelma & Louise. “We set out to create a beer that everyone could appreciate and it was so lovely to see people enjoying it and celebrating with like-minded individuals,” said Patey.

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MacDonald said she too was pleased with how the collaboration turned out. “Queer Beer initially was interested in a Saison, but we didn't have the correct yeast in house,” she said. “We were super digging the possible outcome of the recipe with the Kveik Farmhouse yeast and we were not disappointed with the final result! It's light, flavourful, aromatic and crushable. 4.7% abv and so delish we are brewing it again!”

As mentioned, the initial idea was to release the beer for Port Rexton Pride and then can it for those who were not able to attend the festivities and were interested in having a Queer Feeling. “We wanted to make more people aware of Pride, but we didn't have all our logistics figured out in time,” said MacDonald. “Fear not! If things go as planned the Queer Feeling will be in cans in a couple of weeks!”

Queer Feeling is available for growler fills at Port Rexton’s retail shop in St. John’s while supplies last. Stay tuned to Port Rexton Brewing Co. and Queer Beer NL’s social media accounts for the latest on the canned release!