Brew­ing up a storm

New mi­cro­brew­ery aims to have suds flow­ing in Burin by spring

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BY PAUL HERRIDGE THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE BURIN, NL pher­ridge@south­

Jen­nie O’Keefe and Chris John­son have plans to bring a craft brew­ery to Burin next spring.

Canada’s boom­ing craft beer in­dus­try will soon have its first en­try from the Burin Penin­sula.

Jen­nie O’Keefe and Chris John­son have started up Rough Wa­ters Brew­ing Com­pany Ltd. and are plan­ning to op­er­ate out of Burin.

About a year ago, the young 20-some­thing cou­ple, who are cur­rently liv­ing in St. John’s but will be re­lo­cat­ing in the near fu­ture, saw how well the Port Rex­ton Brew­ing Com­pany was do­ing on the Bon­av­ista Penin­sula. They de­cided to throw cau­tion to the wind and go for it as well, O’Keefe told The South­ern Gazette Wed­nes­day.

“This has been a re­ally pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, which is kind of sur­pris­ing,” she said. “You ex­pect every­thing to go wrong – that’s what you need to pre­pare for – but so far, so good.”

John­son, whose fam­ily is from Grand Bank, has a back­ground in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing tech­nol­ogy, and will han­dle the brew­ing part of the op­er­a­tion, O’Keefe said, adding she will be re­spon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing, dis­tri­bu­tion and other as­pects of the busi­ness.

O’Keefe, who is orig­i­nally from Con­cep­tion Bay South, ex­plained John­son de­vel­oped a pas­sion for craft beer while work­ing in an oil in­dus­try job in Colorado.

“They have a huge craft beer in­dus­try go­ing, so when he was there he re­ally fell in love with it,” she said.

After a cou­ple years, he came home and started brew­ing his own beer, even­tu­ally turn­ing O’Keefe on to the world of craft brew­ing after they met.

“I thought that I didn’t like beer un­til I had tried all these dif­fer­ent types of craft beers,” O’Keefe said.

The craft beer in­dus­try has ex­ploded across the coun­try in re­cent years and New­found­land is be­gin­ning to catch on. A num­ber of mi­cro­brew­eries are start­ing to pop up around the prov­ince and are in var­i­ous stages of get­ting off the ground.

O’Keefe said the pair de­cided it would be wise to jump in now be­fore the mar­ket be­comes too con­gested.

Rough Wa­ters Brew­ing Com­pany will be the first craft brew­ery on the Burin Penin­sula.

“I’m sure there will be an­other one com­ing to the Burin Penin­sula at some point be­cause there should be enough in­ter­est to be able to have two of them, but we’re ex­cited to be the first,” she said.

O’Keefe said the Port Rex­ton Brew­ing Com­pany has been “ab­so­lutely in­cred­i­ble” in pro­vid­ing sup­port.

“We’ve ap­pren­ticed there a few times now and are still go­ing back. They’ve been amaz­ing,” O’Keefe said.

The brew­ery will op­er­ate in a space ad­ja­cent to Smug­glers Cove Road­house Bar and Grill in Burin. O’Keefe said con­struc­tion will be­gin this fall. Mike Bren­nan of Smug­glers Cove has been a big help, she said, and Rough Wa­ters Brew­ing Com­pany will be the only beer on tap at the es­tab­lish­ment.

O’Keefe said the com­pany is plan­ning to of­fer four reg­u­lar brews. They have the first three nailed down – a wheat beer, a blonde beer and a porter – and are work­ing on the fourth.

“We want to have four that are there all the time, and have two to four ro­tat­ing beers that are go­ing to be very dif­fer­ent,” she said. “So it’s some­thing that we’ll have to in­tro­duce to the Burin Penin­sula.

The pair was ini­tially look­ing at lo­cat­ing the busi­ness in Grand Bank and calling it the Grand Bank Brew­ing Com­pany, O’Keefe said, but when that didn’t pan out, they went with Rough Wa­ters, which she said ties into the her­itage of per­sis­tence in New­found­land.

“We’ve done noth­ing but per­se­vere, through the cod mora­to­rium, even what’s go­ing on now. It’s more like a chal­lenge,” she ex­plained of the mean­ing be­hind the name.

The duo plans to be up and run­ning by the May 24 long week­end next spring.

“I’m all for try­ing to launch sooner, but Chris is a bit more hes­i­tant, so for sure May TwoFour,” O’Keefe said.


Jen­nie O’Keefe and Chris John­son have started up Rough Wa­ters Brew­ing Com­pany Ltd. and in­tend to in­tro­duce the first craft brew­ery on the Burin Penin­sula by next spring.

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