“Being part of the community is a priority. In many ways, the local arts scene can define a community.”
This doesn’t sound like the kind of corporate jargon you’d expect from the sales and marketing department of a national brewery company, but this statement from Mill Street’s Jordan White, and its intended takeaway, seem legit.
It’s not uncommon to see local acts collaborating with local restaurants, bars and pubs, but somehow, it’s a little surprising to see a large-scale corporation adopting these same values.
This is where Mill Street Brewpub, located on Harbour Drive in St. John’s, is setting itself apart from its downtown neighbours.
Recently, the brewery showcased a collaboration between the Mill Street and local band Town House. A Red IPA, named for the band’s song “Red,” met lips of eager beer drinkers on Feb. 23, the band also providing music for the evening.
This isn’t the first collaboration that Mill Street has put together since opening in the capital city in June 2016.
Newfoundland Chocolate Co., Five Brothers Cheese, Chinched Bistro, Barking Kettle, Port Rexton Brewing Co., Living Planet, The Funeral Club, St. John’s Tool Box Library and a number of Memorial University organizations are among their lengthy list of associates.
Musicians such as Mick Davis, Matthew Hornell, Andrew Laite and The Old Contemporaries have also graced the stage.
“Community is a main pillar of our business,” White said via email. “When we opened in St. John’s, we wanted to make sure we connected with people in the arts. This isn’t something we do only in St. John’s. The Mill Street Brewery first opened up in the Distillery District in Toronto in 2002. The Distillery District is widely known to be a major hub for the arts community of not just Toronto but Canada.”
On a national scale, the brewpub has worked with some big names in Canadian entertainment, such as The Sheepdogs, July Talk and USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker).
“The band collabs that Mill Street have done in the past always impressed me and had been something I wanted to look at doing in Newfoundland,” White said.
“However, I wanted to make sure that if we were to do it, it was with the right band and right fit for us and them,” White said, noting that he grew up with members of Town House and was familiar with the band. He reached out to gauge interest, and the partnership was born. Planning began in December, and by the end of February the band was onstage at the pub, drinking their own beer.
“We wanted to make sure it just wasn’t a beer brewed by us with their name on it. They were involved in the creation of the brew. We also had them get their hands dirty for the actual brew of the beer with our brewmaster Alexis Wagner,” White explained.
He also noted the band had the idea of donating $1 from every pint of Town House Red IPA sold during the event to the Janeway Music Therapy Program.
“The beer launch was a major success. The beer was very well received by guests, Town House sounded incredible and put on a hell of a show, and we managed to sell just under 400 pints of the beer,” White said, which translates to about $400 for the Janeway.
White is excited to continue with these local collaborations.
“It’s always fun brewing beer, but getting a chance to work with other businesses who are just as passionate as we are is super rewarding,” he said.
There are more fine Newfoundlanders and Labradorians on their upcoming list of collaborations for the month of March.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, Mill Street St. John’s and the MUN Women in Science and Engineering Undergraduate Society put on an event at the Mill Street Brewpub, with Alexis Wagner, the brewmaster’s assistant at Mill Street Brewery Toronto, speaking about her craft.
From March 11 to April 1, the brewery will host the Sunday String Session, a partnership with local pickers Matthew Hornell and Andrew Laite, who will be accompanied by their bands, High And Lonesome and The Old Contemporaries, respectively.
“The idea here is to once again help promote the local arts community,” White said, “as well as offer a welcoming experience for the industry folks and downtown crowd on a Sunday night.
“As a Newfoundlander myself, it has been a great experience so far and amazing to see the warm reception by the local community.”