The Quidi Vidi Village Experience - Part III - The Beer
Leaving Mallard with a full, happy belly, I had just one thing on my mind – I was ready for pints! But not just any pints, I’m talking beer brewed from 10,000 year old iceberg water – I needed a cold one from Quidi Vidi Brewery.
Quidi Vidi is an award winning micro-brewery that sits nestled right at the mouth of the Gut. Established in 1996, they are known for producing world-class beers – their British IPA took home the gold at the 2012 World Beer Championships in Chicago. Offering daily tours and tastings to the public, I arrived just in time to belly up to the bar and take a peek behind the scenes of everyone’s favourite local brewery.
A large group had gathered upstairs for the final tasting of the day. I took my seat as a knowledgeable guide took us on a journey of how it all started. Formerly the Cabot Seafood’s fish plant, the building shut down in 1992 due to the cod moratorium. Since then, it has undergone extensive renovations and reopened as the Quidi Vidi Brewery in 1996. It all started with two young chaps attending Memorial University who had the genius idea to cut down on drinking costs… by brewing their own beer in a janitor’s closet on campus. I don’t want to spoil the punch line, but needless to stay the story ends with a very drunk janitor – you’ll have to attend the tour yourself to get all the dirty details.
History lesson complete, it was time to get on to the tasting. Today we were sampling five brews, the first of which was Quidi Vidi Light. Did you know that Newfoundland consumes 10 million dozen beer every year? Did you know that 65% of those 10 million dozen consumed is light beer? I could see why – the beer was light bodied, crisp and absolutely delicious.
Next up, Quidi Vidi’s Iceberg beer in the famous blue bottle. The brewery employs “iceberg harvesters” (officially the coolest job title on the planet) to hunt the bergs, harvest the bergy bits, melt them down, test for purity and, if they’re up to snuff, bring the water back to the Gut to be brewed into marvellous, delicious Iceberg Beer. The appearance is clear and golden with a clean, sparkling finish. Iceberg took home the bronze medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards in 2012.
Third on the docket, Eric’s Cream Ale. Instead of going into the history of this brew, I’ll let the ad speak for itself – it’s worth attending the tour just to get the backstory on the gentleman above. Smooth and creamy, Eric’s was the Silver Medal Winner at the 2001 World Beer Championships in Chicago.
1892 Traditional Ale was next, along with a mini history lesson on the Great Fire of St. John’s which destroyed two-thirds of the city in, you guessed it – 1892. The beer is full bodied, rich and hearty – not unlike the spirit of your traditional Newfoundlander.
Last, but certainly not least, our guide poured us a taste of the British IPA. We learned that when British soldiers occupied India in the late 1800′s they each received a ration of six pints of IPA a day! This is no light beer – full bodied with the perfect amount of bitterness, it’s no wonder they took home the gold with this brew.
Post-tasting we toured the brewery and we saw how the beer was made from beginning to end. Afterwards it was time to join the Kitchen Party. The perfect end to a day in Quidi Vidi, every Friday the brewery hosts a traditional Newfoundland Kitchen party with live music, food and of course, more pints.
By the time I finished the tour there was already a lineup outside the brewery of regulars waiting to join the party. The doors were opened, everyone grabbed a seat or leaned against the bar, and the room filled with excited chatter, laughter and the sounds of the Brew Crew. I grabbed a pint of Iceberg and took it all in. This had to be the happiest place in the city that Friday evening. Everyone was smiling, clinking glasses and running to the dance floor for a scuff. Todd from Mallard dropped down with his crew, fired up the barbecue and started serving homemade burgers with a side of chips – I was home.
Check out the brewery online for more information on their award winning beers, tour times and bookings for private events. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for a behind the scenes look at the brewing process!