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Quidi Vidi Brewery view newfoundland

How Newfoundland’s Craft Beers Enhance Your Vacation on The Rock

Quidi Vidi Brewery view newfoundland

Canada may not have a better place to enjoy a craft beer than in Quidi Vidi village, where it’s namesake brewery is the most popular in Newfoundland. (Ming Tappin photo for Vacay.ca)

Although not a beer connoisseur, I do enjoy drinking the local brew when touring, especially on a hot day, after a good hike, or with good local cuisine. On my cross-provincial road trip (where I did a lot of hiking), I had a chance to taste Newfoundland craft beers nearly every day.

The Newfoundland craft beer industry isn’t all that old — the first craft brewery opened in 1996, and there are around 20 in the province (including Labrador). The breweries are located in cities along the Trans-Canada Highway, at or near a city with a tourist attraction. The highest concentration — not surprisingly — is found in the St. John’s area, and a handful are in Western Newfoundland, another popular region known for its natural beauty. But even if your itinerary doesn’t pass by a place that has a craft brewery, a variety of Newfoundland craft beer is available at a restaurant, pub, or liquor store where you may be visiting, so you won’t miss out.

Beer that Comes with a Crash Pad: Broomstick Brewing, Corner Brook

Broomstick brewing newfoundland

Corner Brook’s Broomstick Brewing has a wide selection of beers to savour. (Ming Tappin photo for Vacay.ca)

Opened in 2020, the Broomstick brewery and taproom is conveniently located under the Hew & Draw boutique hotel, which provides accommodations — the planned kind if you are travelling through or the emergency kind if you end up over-indulging. The partnership between the brewery and the hotel is strong, as the Hew & Draw’s in-room min-bar is filled with Broomstick beer, and it offers an add-on package with a brewery tour, beer tasting in the taproom, and beer and glasses to take home. For guests staying at Hew & Draw, Broomstick will also deliver growlers and cans to your room upon request.

On tap during my visit were 14 choices, including lagers, IPAs, stouts, fruity Kolsch, and sours. Available in flights, full, and half pours, Broomstick brews make great companions to snacks or a full meal served by the Best Coast Restaurant, which shares the same space.

Best Way to Chill in Iceberg Alley: Split Rock Brewing Co, Twillingate

Before or after your iceberg tour in Twillingate, stop by for a pint from Split Rock, which opened in 2017. But don’t search for Split Rock on the map. Instead, look up the Stage Head Pub, where the brewery is located and which also serves small bites. It’s on Main Street just as you cross into North Twillingate Island, with a nice patio to view sunsets. I had the Combines Cream Ale made with 100% malt — it was light and refreshing on its own. Other options while I was there included a bitter, an IPA, red rye, brown, and stout. Split Rock only brews small batches, so not everything is available at all times, and there will be seasonal offerings as well. The pub’s kitchen is usually open on weekends only, otherwise, beer is available to-go. If your Newfoundland travel plans don’t include a visit to Twillingate, but you’re passing Gander, you can pick up Split Rock beer at the liquor store there.

Perfect After-Hike Refreshment: Port Rexton Brewing Co.

The small community of Port Rexton on the Bonavista Peninsula has two star attractions: the Skerwink Trail and Port Rexton Brewing Co. The former is an exhilarating 5.3-kilometre (3.3-mile) hike with spectacular views, and the latter is a great place for your after-hike recovery. Besides the usual lagers, blonde ales, IPAs, and porters, Port Rexton also serves up a good selection of gluten-free beers, brewed with 100% certified gluten-free millet, buckwheat, quinoa, and corn. I tried the GF Porter, which had all the great taste of dark chocolate but came with a light taste and no tummy troubles. Although the taproom does not serve food, in the same building is Oh My Cheeses eatery, with a menu of specialty grilled cheese sandwiches (try the Hot Mess, with gooey mozzarella, caramelized onions, spicy mayo, and bacon), fancy fries, and sweet and savoury treats.

Port Rexton Brewing Co. is open year-round and also hosts events such as trivia or music nights. But if you can’t make the drive to the Bonavista Peninsula, you can still do a beer run at its retail shop in St. John’s, and I even saw it at a gas station convenience store elsewhere on the island.

More than Just an Eyebrow Raising Name: Dildo Brewing Co.

Dildo Brewing Co Newfoundland

The Dildo Brewing Co. promises to leave you satisfied with the taste of its beers. (Ming Tappin photo for Vacay.ca)

Who can pass on a visit to a town called Dildo? Not me, and certainly not after hearing that late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel had campaigned to become the town’s honorary mayor and erected a “Hollywood”-style sign on its hillside. As it turns out, Dildo also has a craft brewery, which provided another terrific reason to visit. Opened in 2018, Dildo Brewing Co. is on the waterfront, with a full restaurant that has an outdoor deck and views of Trinity Bay. Also in the same building is the Dildo Outport Heritage Museum (open in summer only), which tells the story of the town’s fishing history.

Dildo beers newfoundland

Despite what had to have been a temptation to play on its place name, the Dildo Brewing Co. chose classy labels for its lineup of beers. (Ming Tappin photo for Vacay.ca)

Arriving fresh from a hike, I was eager to try a flight, sampling a light lager, a pink grapefruit radler, an English brown ale, and a stout. All were easy to drink, and I fell in love with the pink grapefruit, which unfortunately was served on tap only and not available to take home. Downstairs in the shop, I selected a few more choices from the massive beer fridges to take on the road, and all were delicious. Name notwithstanding, Dildo Brewing Co. was definitely a highlight of my beer tour in Newfoundland.

New Kid on the Block: Banished Brewing

Just opened in 2023, Banished Brewing is a short hop off the Trans-Canada Highway on the Avalon Peninsula, about 20 minutes outside St. John’s. Located in the town of Paradise, craft-beer lovers may think they have just arrived in heaven when faced with the 34 beers on the menu, each with a whimsical name (Intergalactic Puffin, An Elaborate Series of Mirrors, Mustard Pickles, to name a few) and colourful label. Its taproom is open six days a week, complemented by a concession that serves perfect beer food such as nachos, wings, and burgers.

Although I didn’t make it to the brewery, I tried the Paradise Town Fruited Sour at a restaurant, tempted by the fruit theme and its orange and red label. The flavour was mango and passionfruit, which sounded great on the menu, but really was not to my taste buds as the sour notes overpowered the fruit. But, good news for sour beer fans, Banished probably has the most selection I have seen on my trek across the island.

A Newfoundland Classic: Quidi Vidi Brewing Co, Quidi Vidi

Iceberg beer Quidi Vidi newfoundland

The most famous beer in Newfoundland is Quidi Vidi’s Iceberg — made with water taken from the glaciers that drift by St. John’s. (Ming Tappin photo for Vacay.ca)

In our final stop in St. John’s, due diligence was made to drop by Quidi Vidi village, home to (and name of) the province’s first craft brewery.  Opened in 1995, the brewery is located in the picturesque waterfront village, whose quaintness and beauty draw as many visitors as the beer. The brewery also has a full restaurant, but I arrived on a weekend, the place was packed full of bus tour groups, and the wait for a table appeared to be over an hour long.

However, not being able to get into the brewery was by no means a tragedy. Since Quidi Vidi Brewing is Newfoundland’s largest craft brewery, its beer is available across the province in every bar, restaurant, and liquor store. I had several opportunities to enjoy Quidi Vidi beer on my trip, from the moment I drove off the ferry at Port Aux Basques to the day I reboarded in Argentia for my trip  home two weeks later. The most famous and ubiquitous one to try is Iceberg lager — yes, made with water from “local” icebergs, giving it a clean and refreshing taste. Another easy-drinking light lager is Crown & Anchor, and the Squeeze Box New England IPA is fragrant with notes of stone fruit. I also tried the Iron Cherry Sour, once again tempted by the fruitiness of the name, but the sour is definitely the key tasting note. After two attempts, I have decided that fruited sours are not for me! (And it was probably not the right kind of beer to drink with a pizza.)

Not Beer but Noteworthy: Newfoundland Cider Company, Milton

For a change of scenery, consider trying another Newfoundland libation — alcoholic apple ciders. Motivated to find a use for the abundant apple trees whose excess fruit was going to waste in Milton, two entrepreneurial owners decided to open the first craft cidery in Newfoundland in 2016. Now with their own orchard but still also using local wild apples, Newfoundland Cider Company produces a myriad of ciders made from freshly pressed apple juice. Blended with elderflower, pears, berries, and even rhubarb and beets, these barrel-aged ciders range between 4.5% to 6.5% alcohol. The taste varies from sweet to spicy, dry to sparkling. The cidery and tasting room often hosts pop-up grills, barbecue events, and other special treats.

If you are on the Trans-Canada highway passing through Clarenville in Eastern Newfoundland, the cidery is just a 10-minute jaunt. But check its hours before dropping by, as they do change with the season. Otherwise, the ciders are also available in the local NLC liquor store.

The Best of the Capital: YellowBelly Brewery, St. John’s

Jammed with up to 700 revellers every night, YellowBelly has become a landmark place to eat and drink in Canada’s easternmost capital city. The food is good, too, thanks to the wood-fired pizza oven that churns out excellent pies, and of course you should try the fish and chips or cod burger with the brew of your choice. You’ll want to try the St. John’s Stout, especially around St. Patrick’s Day — it just may make you reconsider how you perceive Guinness. Another fun beer is the Come From Away Islander Pale Ale, made in collaboration with a craft brewery in New York City.


Festival: The Newfoundland Craft Beer Festival holds various craft-beer events throughout the year across the province. Check the organization’s website for dates or sign up for their newsletter to be notified of upcoming events.

Tourism Info: The Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism website has a list of the province’s craft beer companies. Each brewery has a website and/or social media page listing the types of beer on offer, including seasonal batches. Some breweries are strictly tasting rooms, which means they don’t serve food, while others serve small snacks and some have a full-fledged restaurant so you can enjoy a meal to complement your beer. Of course, you can also purchase beer to-go in individual cans, bottles, growlers, and kegs.

Before you go, check the brewery’s website for hours of operation, especially during the off-season, as some are likely to have short hours or are only open on the weekends.