Craft beer market exploding globally

A trip to downtown St. John’s will serve brew seekers well

Published on May 23, 2014
The YellowBelly Brewery offers four craft beers that include (from left) St. John’s Stout, Fighting Irish Red, YellowBelly Pale Ale and Wexford Wheat. — Submitted photos

Newfoundland has long been the domain of industrial lagers or convenience beers as the big names we know so well are commonly referred to.

We all have our favourites be it Black Horse, Coors Light or Blue Star.

Some are only brewed in Newfoundland for our domestic market while others such as Bud Light can be found almost anywhere in the world.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but have you noticed that most of them tend to look and taste quite similar?

This is certainly true when you line them up against a type of beer that is entirely different, for example: Guinness.

In reality almost all of the big brand beers we see and Guinness only represent two beer styles according to the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines, which is the most common reference in North America. Those two styles are American Lager and Dry Stout.

The world of beer is vast, and according to there are more than 20,000 brands of beer in more than 180 styles produced around the world which may or may not include other related fermented drinks such as Chicha in Central and South America.

This is a moving target as the craft beer market is exploding in many parts of the world and brewers are inventing recipes for new beers and styles every day.

It’s not uncommon to run into someone who says they don’t like beer and I’m always compelled to say they just haven’t found the right one yet.

This often leads to discussion about what other kinds of beers are out there or, maybe more importantly, what kinds of flavours and aromas are out there.

My answer is: too many to know them all, but I’m sure I could find one to fit. There are beers wine lovers fall for and others cocktail fans get into. I would say that for anyone who enjoys alcoholic drinks of any type there are beers that will resonate with their palate.

Again it comes down to finding the right one.

Locally, our liquor stores traditionally haven’t been known for a large selection of different styles, but this is changing and we are currently enjoying the widest variety that we’ve ever seen.

The opportunities to try new beer and learn about them have also grown immensely in recent years through projects such as the beer club offerings and the beer-tasting events that are popping up more and more.

In St. John’s tasting events have included beer-themed fundraisers with local organizations such as the Autism Society and beer- paired dinners such as the one held at Bitters late last fall.

In March, Marble Mountain is offering a getaway ski weekend with an Aprés Ski Beer Tasting event on the Sunday. There are plans building for more tasting events all the time, even in Labrador.

Right now, I think Newfoundland is not such a bad place to be as a beer lover. We have some excellent beers to choose from in both the permanent selections and the growing number of seasonal offerings at our chosen NLC stores, plus our local microbreweries are stepping out with more new and interesting recipes.

If you’re looking for lunch downtown, why not stop in for pizza at YellowBelly and try one of Liam’s excellent beers?

Stopping at the liquor store for something to bring home? Why not grab one of Quidi Vidi’s six packs? Its British IPA has been a hit since it was released.

Storm Brewing has their regular lineup available too. Isn’t it time to try something new?

Mike Buhler is a certified cicerone. Email him at, or check out for

information on beer club offerings.