Newfoundland Brewery Tour: Quidi Vidi Brewing Co., St. John’s
There have been some big changes in The Gut as Quidi Vidi Brewing underwent a bit of a facelift, turning their old bar into a modern, yet classic looking taproom this past spring, and they haven’t looked back since. Newfoundland’s largest craft brewery launched two new brews this past February, Calm Tom’s Double IPA, a west coast IPA with the full flavours of juicy tropical fruits along with Mad Mike’s Big Bad Belgian, which is a strong ale made with classic Belgian yeast character and coriander. The brewery has had a presence at a number of events outside of the taproom including Yung Dumb Pride and the annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival. The Racket managed to visit Q.V.’s taproom a number of times throughout the summer and we spoke with Justin Fong, Quidi Vidi’s head of sales and marketing via email about the brewery’s busy summer and what they might be planning next.
The launch of Calm Tom and Mad Mike was a success for Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. “Calm Tom came out as the winner in sales and since [the launch] we've had people crying to get it back on the shelves so we listened. It’s now going to be one of our full-time beers!” said Fong. This news came as a relief for fans of the double IPA with the announcement on Facebook garnering a couple of hundred likes and dozens of comments including praise as the best DIPA you can find locally.
Back in February, construction on the new taproom had yet to commence and Fong had told The Muse that he expected the renovations to be completed by mid-to-late March. As with most construction timelines, this was not the case and the taproom did not officially open to the public until June. Once things were presentable and in working order, however, Quidi Vidi hosted held a number of soft openings including a fundraiser with Young Adult Cancer Canada, for Shave For The Brave, which Fong said was his favourite. “Jeff Eaton and the crew at Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC) are amazing and making a difference in people’s lives. We try to help those guys out on their fundraising initiatives when they need it,” he said.
The new taproom is quite the space with the bar nestled in the middle ready to serve customers from sixteen taps. Fong said that while he believes every craft brewery in the province has something different to offer but Quidi Vidi Brewing Co.’s location is the nicest. The large windows that surround the taproom give patrons a postcard or Instagram worthy view of The Gut, showing off the ocean, cliffs and everything else the fishing village has to offer. Even if you visit during the dreaded Newfoundland triple threat of RDF, the view is spectacular.
This summer, the taproom presented a number of different beer options for visitors to fill their flight. The combination of old favourites with new choices was sure to excite any craft beer connoisseur. Aside from the ever popular and thirst-quenching Iceberg Lager, made with pure, ancient iceberg water, you could try things like the Heavy Metal kettle sour Berliner weise and the Three Seasons saison, which were perfect for summer. Another old, but elusive favourite, Fogtown Lager also returned to the tap. Visitors to Q.V.’s taproom can purchase a taster flight for ten dollars and pints for roughly seven dollars. The QVFC-Quidi Vidi Fish and Chips truck operates outside the brewery during the summer season and uses Iceberg beer in their batter. Patrons can take their fish with them to the taproom and children are allowed on the premises until 8:30 PM when accompanied by an adult and eating.
Fogtown, along with Three Seasons, Day Boil session IPA, and Folk’d Up pale ale could be found in attractively designed cans, which is a little different from the way Quidi Vidi normally presents their brews. “Cans are a great way to try a new beer without spending more money on a half case or dozen,” said Fong. “Most crafts beer drinkers would rather have four different tall cans over a six pack of one brand because they like trying and drinking different beers.” He said that Quidi Vidi still plans to bottle their brews and beer drinkers can expect new brands to be launched in both bottles and cans.
“The launches for our new brands went really well! Almost too well,” said Fong. “We sold out of Dayboil, Three Seasons and Folk'd Up in under a week each.” Folk’d Up was planned as a one-off to celebrate Quidi Vidi’s partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival but Fong admitted that the brewery had thought it would last a bit longer before selling out. Fans of both Dayboil and Three Seasons will be happy to know that these beers will be year-round brands for Quidi Vidi so they should be able to be located. “We learned a couple of lessons,” admitted Fong. “And we’re making larger batches for new can launches going forward.”
This seems like a good idea since Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. offered a number of free beer tastings to people at the NL Folk Festival in their “Bigger, Better, Beer Tent”. According to Fong, organizers of the festival said that Q.V.’s beer tent was the busiest they had ever seen a beer tent during the afternoon festival hours. “I’d call that a good first go,” observed Fong who said he enjoyed seeing people drink craft beers for the first time and “actually enjoy them”. “Most people who say they aren't beer drinkers are usually people who tried one type of lager from "the big guys” when they were younger and never went back. There’s so many different styles and flavours that there's something for everyone!”
After a busy summer, Fong said Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. realized they need to expand even more and that is the plan going forward over the next year. “We have a ton of new ideas for beers and fun events but sadly we can't do them all. We're going to be doing a really fun saison event in the fall so stay tuned!”
The Racket’s Recommendations for a Flight: Three Seasons Saison, Iceberg Lager, The Weizenhammer, and Day Boil Session IPA.
***As with the nature of breweries and small batches, these brews may not always be on tap.***