ST. ANTHONY, NL – Local craft breweries are having monumental success across the island, and the Northern Peninsula may see its own microbrewery by 2019.
Initial work is now underway to turn the former Clock Shopping Centre in St. Anthony into a microbrewery.
Lauren Smithson, who helped spearhead the project, says the idea has already gained full support from Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation Minister Chris Mitchelmore, as well as the town of St. Anthony and its tourism and development board.
But local craft brewing will only be the jumping off point; Smithson hopes the facility can also be a venue for community projects, events and initiatives.
“The idea is to have a place where you can do events like art shows, craft shows, gallery stuff,” she said. “As well as having a performance base for local musicians and those around the province.”
Brad and Jennifer Simms of St. Anthony are also directors on the project.
The proposed microbrewery, called RagnaRöck Northern Brewing Company, would also bring major growth to the region’s tourism industry.
“Not only would it be a local success, with economic development and job availability, having a microbrewery in the area would really improve the tourism experience,” said Smithson.
Rise of the brewery
Due to St. Anthony’s remote location, shipping and installing brewery equipment will take roughly 12 months to complete. Teaming up with and sponsoring provincial breweries like Port Rexton Brewing and Western Newfoundland Brewing Company in Pasadena will be an essential facet to advancing the project.
The craft brewing industry has been booming for quite some time, said Smithson, and Newfoundland and Labrador is gradually taking hold of its potential. The success of Port Rexton Brewing is just one example of how prominent and popular the industry is becoming.
“There’s so much request for their product that they’re not able to make it fast enough,” Smithson said. “We know it’s going to be successful, it’s just a matter of getting everything put in place, crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s.”
Last spring, Smithson and others got together to look into what can be done with the former Clock Shopping Centre, an aging and historic structure with a clock tower.
“It’s more than a relic,” Smithson said. “It harkens back to the time when [Sir Wilfred] Grenfell tried to make an entire industry base here.
“It’s really central to the area; it would be sad to see it go to waste.”
Work was done for some much-needed repairs to the roof earlier this summer. And while many preliminary efforts have begun regarding the microbrewery and ways to utilize the building, the greatest obstacle has been securing the necessary funds needed.
It will be a considerable task to get the project completed and operational. Smithson hopes to begin ordering equipment for the microbrewery by early next year, so long as the building is purchased by then.
If the brewery is set to run by early 2019, the microbrewery will open in June of that year – to coincide with the annual Iceberg Festival.
“There’s a lot of potential, but we’re still in early stages of development,” said Smithson. “It’s just a matter of policy, procedure, and getting through the red tape.”