Though Newfoundland has centuries of history surrounding homemade beer from locally foraged ingredients, it wasn’t until 1996 that the first production craft brewery graced our island. Now Newfoundland and Labrador has over 20 craft breweries set to launch by the start of 2020 and all are tapping into the flavours of our land and sea. This 4-day self-guided journey will take you through the history and of course beers that St. John’s has to offer.
Your first brew stop on the four day journey will bring you to one of the oldest structures in Newfoundland. Its exterior stone masonry showcases the architectural wonders of days gone by and is one of the standing remnants of the great fire of 1852. This is the home of YellowBelly Brewery and Public House.
From here you will begin your Downtown Food Experience with a beer tasting and food pairing in the UnderBelly, located in YellowBelly’s basement bar. In this speakeasy you will learn about the history of the building and the brewery. After a tour of the brewery you will be guided over to the nearby local favourite, Mussels On The Corner. Your dinner here will feature treasures from Newfoundland’s brackish waters, mussels. Or if your taste skews more towards the land, browse their menu for a selection of dishes including moose bolognese.
You’ll wrap up your downtown evening on the famous George Street at Canada’s Favourite Bar, O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub. George Street is known for its live music offerings and O’Reilly’s stands out. Dance the evening away to traditional Irish Newfoundland music and become an honorary Newfoundlander during their Screech In ceremony.
If you want to take a piece of the day with you, make a stop into the YB Takeaway where you can fill a growler, grab a few cans or purchase a selection of unique YellowBelly apparel.
Taps to Try:
A visit to St. John’s wouldn’t be complete without stopping by two of the newest craft breweries, located just minutes from downtown. Stop one is at Landwash Brewery, which opened in December 2018 and has hit the ground running. Their beer-hall style taproom offers a casual space to relax, sip and even meet a few locals. Their friendly vibes and flavour-forward beers are inspired by modern American craft beer with inspiration taken from our saltwater and abundant land. While here you can also dig into some saucy food from their in-house food truck or if you’re visiting during the summer stop in for a picnic at the Admiralty House Museum.
The nearby Admiralty House Communications Museum is a historic World War I naval wireless station, and is within a 7 minute walk from the brewery. This historic building was originally constructed in 1915 by the Marconi Telegraph Co. during the First World War as the top secret H.M. Wireless Station for the British Royal Navy. Now the last standing of the 11 identical stations around the world, it once intercepted secret German naval transmissions, tracked icebergs and ships in distress including the tragedy of the S.S. Florizel. Be sure to stop in to enjoy their fascinating, surprising, and once top-secret stories.
Taps to Try:
Your second stop out of town will be just a 12 minute drive from Landwash. As you drive into Conception Bay South you will be awe struck with the sweeping views. Here is where you will find Ninepenny Brewing, a premium craft brewery. The unique name comes from Newfoundland’s ancestor’s love of beer and pays homage to the old English pubs where stories were told, beers were shared, and journeys began. It also makes a subtle nod to the nine communities that came together to create Conception Bay South.
Just up the road from Ninepenny is the place to take in the views and natural beauty of the area, Manuel’s River, Hibernia Interpretation Centre. The centre features science exhibits – related to the biology, geology, and human history of Manuels River and is internationally known for its fossilized trilobites. Here you can tour the trail network and stop into the centre for a quick lunch before heading back to town.
Taps to Try:
Your third day in St. John’s will likely take you to a few iconic landmarks, including National Historic Site, Signal Hill. If you are feeling adventurous you can hike to the top from the Battery along the North Head Trail, or for a more relaxing journey take the scenic winding drive right to Cabot Tower. The sky-scraping views gives you the perfect vantage point to see all of St. John’s and also (on a non-foggy day) the most easterly point of Cape Spear. It is here that you can take a historic hike from Ladies’ Lookout Trail to the village of Quidi Vidi where Quidi Vidi Brewery is perched.
Recognized as one of the largest microbreweries in Newfoundland & Labrador, they offer a mix of both old and new recipes for their brews. From the fiery 1892 traditional ale to the ancient iceberg beer, made from actual iceberg water, there is always something exciting on tap. The photogenic green building has historical ties to the community as well. Once operating as a fishing plant, the brewery now offers views of Quidi Vidi harbour, also known as “the gut”.
If you are here on a Friday in the summer, join the Signal Hill Ales and Tales Tour, which will start by retracing the footsteps of the Battle of Signal Hill. An interpreter dressed in the uniform of a Private of the 40th Regiment Afoot circa 1762 will guide you into Quidi Vidi Village as you learn about how the site’s rich history was tied to beer. Once in the village, you’ll be met with the craft beer experts from Quidi Vidi Brewery, and finish your experience with a flight of their finest ales and a plate of fish and chips.
Taps to Try:
Wrap up your weekend full of St. John’s craft breweries with a Harbourside view. The indoor patio at the Bier Markt – Mill Street Brewpub provides a complete picture of our harbour. From the narrows and Signal Hill to the docking yards, watch as the fishing boats steam by after a day at sea while you sample their local brews.
Bier Markt is home to both Mill Street classics and an ever-rotating selection of house brewed beer that focuses on local ingredients, not to mention the 100 other varieties of beer they have available to order from their main level bar. Simply put, it’s a bit of a beer connoisseurs paradise. During your outing be sure to order a flight of their locally crafted brews that feature foraged ingredients from professional forager of Barking Kettle and Murray’s Gardens, and take a tour of their menu. With Bavarian soft pretzels dipped in a bacon beer cheese sauce to the crispy brussel sprouts topped with shaved parmesan, you can snack your way to their main courses or skip straight to dessert which could include a hard root beer float and glazed doughnuts!
While overlooking the harbour a large orange boat may catch your eye. Iceberg Quest tours depart from St. John’s harbour at varying times throughout the day with their last journey leaving at 7:00 p.m. in the summer. Cruise around the harbour where you will get an up-close seaside view of the colourful Battery, Signal Hill, The Narrows, wrapping up the boat ride with a circle around Cape Spear.
Taps to Try:
Additional Details to Note:
The Downtown YellowBelly Food Experience is available to reserve through YellowBelly
Signal Hill Ales and Tales Tour
Separate Quidi Vidi Tasting
The taps often change at each of the above breweries so if the listed ‘taps to try’ are out of season, just ask “what’s new on tap?”
If you would like to visit few more breweries around the bay, group tours are available to book through McCarthy’s Party Brew Bus. (minimum 10 people required, details below)
From downtown St. John’s, to Cape Spear- explore with St. John’s’ Hop On Hop Off!
Hop On Hop Off is the one of the best way to see all that St. John’s has to offer. Their 10 stops are conveniently located near all major attractions and landmarks. The flexible schedule gives you the freedom to see St. John’s at your own pace.
St. John’s Hop On Hop Off is the perfect way to get around. All tickets are valid for 2 days. The 120 minute tours run from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and buses are scheduled to stop every 30 minutes at each stop.
Being a capital city means that hailing a taxi or cab is fairly easy there are many service providers including:
City Wide Taxi 709-722-7777
Jiffy Cab 709-722-2222
Red & Yellow Cabs 709-726-6666
Newfound Cabs 709-744-4444 *Accessible and 15 passenger bus available to hire
Executive Taxi 709-726-2600 *Accessible upon request
During the summer months, from June 26 until September 29, on Wednesdays through Sundays, you can hop on The Link which connects you to the attractions of Downtown, Signal Hill and Quidi Vidi Village. This hop-on, hop-off service can be purchased for singles or groups of five people travelling together.
You can purchase with a full day or two-day pass or just pay single trip cash fare.
Hop-on/off Day Pass
Unlimited boarding for one or two days, as specified on your ticket.
Single Fare – One Day $10.00
Single Fare – Two Day $15.00
Group Fare – One Day $25.00
Join McCarthy’s Party for an excursion “Around the Bay” as we combine beer, stories, and brilliant company while visiting local breweries and the Newfoundland Distillery Company.
This is a great adventure for everyone, from the passionate beer lover to those who simply appreciate a “time”. This is a safe, fun, and informative introduction to Newfoundland’s craft beer and liquor scene. Each venue is located in a resilient, coastal community whose beautiful homes and architectural structures depict different eras of Newfoundland’s history that is as fascinating as the natural beauty that surrounds them.
Length: 5.5 Hours
(Minimum 10 people required)
Published: August 22, 2019