Ninepenny Brewing will be opening this weekend in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland. The brewery and taproom are located at 75 Conception Bay Highway, with three beers beer flowing from the taps to be enjoyed onsite or to take away in growlers. Amidst the construction, brewing, and cleaning (so much cleaning!) we caught up with Glenn, Keith, Justin, and Dwayne of Ninepenny to learn more about them, their beer, and plans to introduce locally-made beer to the CBS region.
Can you tell us about yourselves?
We are four friends who, after years of homebrewing, decided to make the leap into opening a microbrewery. We had independently wanted to make a go of it, and after deliberating for some time, we came together over the Easter weekend in 2017 to really pull the business plan together as a group of 4. We all have different strengths, backgrounds, and interests, and that’s been lending itself well to the journey so far.
Glenn is an Electrical Engineer who is a long time fan of brewing his own beer, wine, cider and mead. He enjoys the history and tradition behind brewing principles, including finding the perfect pairing for food and drink.
Keith has been working as a Civil Engineering consultant, managing his own team and large projects. He loves outdoor activities and has been involved in the ski patrol since 2009. Keith has been homebrewing for years, starting out by helping his parents with homebrew wines. The art, science, and community around craft brewing was a natural progression.
Justin has worked as a Civil Engineering consultant in Municipal design for the past 5 years. He enjoys the outdoors and traveling to new places to experience local craft beer and food. He also loves working with hands to construct everyday items around the house or at the brewery.
Dwayne has worked as a Mechanical Engineer in food processing equipment design and food processing research for the past 6 years. He’s enjoyed making wine, cider, and beer on a homebrew scale for the past eight years. He has a passion for food science and digging into how every aspect of the production process affects the final product.
What made you decide to take the step into opening a brewery?
We were all individually very passionate about beer, and for years there was very little variety on offer in Newfoundland. The best way to be able to sample the styles of beer that interested us was to make them ourselves. This sent us down the path of obsessively learning about beer production and styles, and constantly improving our homebrew equipment to build the system of our dreams. As we started to brew with two, then three, then all four of us, we started talking about making the jump to professional brewing. We started reaching out to local breweries, borrowing yeast for brew days, and volunteering and interning at breweries to learn the ropes. Port Rexton Brewing was a huge help in the early stage of constructing a business plan, pushing us to really chase after it, if it was something we were passionate about. Through the whole process, we realized it was a good fit for us. We have pulled some crazy long days in the brewery already, we’ve seen more than a few sunrises, and they never seem as long as they really are. At the end of the day, we hope to be able to continue the trend of elevating the level and availability of craft beer to the communities in NL in the same way we hope to continue to advance our abilities and tastes as brewers.
Where did the name Ninepenny come from?
Ninepenny takes its name from a 19th century slang word for beer, but the name also makes reference to the 9 communities that amalgamated to create Conception Bay South: the home of the brewery. Our goal was to create a name that seems both fresh yet familiar, while also connecting with the European brewing traditions that contributed so much to Newfoundland’s own brewing history.
What is the culture or ethos of the brewery?
We enjoy brewing just about every beer we’ve tried our hand at so far, but one tenet we try to practice in our brewing is to showcase the ingredients in such a way that, while they are balanced they are also able to come through strong and independently. That’s pretty typical of craft beer in general, of course, but we also try to throw some surprises into our recipes, to catch the drinker unawares if they’re expecting a typical example of the style. This has worked so far, since we haven’t named anything on the homebrew scale beer aside from starting at a style, such as “Porter”, and then labeling the first version “1.0”, with subsequent versions getting progressively higher numbers depending on how significant the changes are that get made each iteration of the recipe. If it surprises someone the first time they try it, or gets them to see the style in a different light, or becomes the reason they like that beer, we’ll consider that a job well done.
Can you tell us about the beers you plan on offering initially?
We describe some of our recipes as “North American ingredients brewed in a British style”, so we hope our large scale recipes come out in such a way that keeps to this description. For our initial offerings, we will be showcasing two English styles: a Porter and an English-style Pale Ale, as well as a Belgian inspired White IPA. We already have a few more styles in our fermenters that play on this same theme, but we’ll leave that for discovery in the weeks to come!
What are your plans for distribution? How can folks enjoy your beer?
We are planning to start small and grow naturally in the community. Our plan is to start with up to 8 taps in the tap room, a mix of our own beer and guest taps. We plan to work and collaborate with local breweries to keep regular guest taps from the amazing craft breweries in NL. We will also be offering our own beer to go in growlers, up to four beer available in that format. We will be offering both the 64 ounce Growler and 32 ounce Grunter formats.
Do you have some initial accounts in the area lined up to serve your beers?
On launch we will be on guest taps in a few local breweries, such as Landwash Brewery, and will slowly roll out other tap accounts to other Atlantic Canada restaurants/establishments.
Have you had any assistance from other breweries and people in the region?
We wouldn’t have made it this far without help from the local microbrewery community, especially Alicia and Sonja of Port Rexton Brewing who have been helping us since that Easter weekend of 2017, and Chris and Christina from Landwash Brewery who we’ve been speaking to on a nearly daily basis – and they still always take our calls! There are so many others that we couldn’t do justice to everyone here, but suffice to say that we have a very supportive, vibrant craft beer community in Atlantic Canada that have really helped us along the way.
Where do you hope to see your brewery in the next 2-3 years?
We believe that focus on the taproom and community is at the heart of our brewery, so that will remain our focus as we work towards events in the brewery and taproom space, and generally encourage a welcoming relaxing environment for the community. We hope to be able to move to small scale canning to be able to expand our offering. We also have plans for expanding the grounds including adding a patio. We are also working hard to partner with local food companies and food trucks to be able to showcase Newfoundland culinary chops along side local craft beer.
Tell us about your brewhouse and equipment.
Back when we started on this journey, the brewery all started from a basic all-grain homebrew setup in Justin’s garage, and gradually was built up to the point where it had pumps, electronic pH meters, and in-line oxygen injection points for the wort. This homebrew setup gave us a great deal of familiarity with the process of making beer, but the appreciation of the commercial scale really came together when visiting and assisting at other craft breweries such as Port Rexton Brewing.
Nowadays, we are using a 1800 litre (15 BBL) system DME Brewing Solutions. We have been concentrating on single batches, but have the capacity to move to 35 hL double batches as necessary.
Congratulations to the Ninepenny crew on their opening! They will be open Saturday, February 23rd at 2 PM, at 75 Conception Bay Highway in Conception Bay South. During their soft launch period, they are open Thursdays and Fridays 4 – 10 PM, Saturdays 2 – 10 PM, and Sundays 12 – 6 PM. Keep an eye on their social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for the latest news and releases.