Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery celebrated their soft opening this month, and are looking forward to serving their house-made beer in the next few weeks. Located on Pilley’s Island in Central Newfoundland, Bumblebee Bight overlooks a harbour full of islands, and is right on the main drag, perfect for those looking to make a stop on their way along Highway 380. We caught up with owners Deno and Natalie Colbourne to learn about their history with the area, how they got into beer, and what Bumblebee Bight has to offer its patrons.
Can you tell us about yourselves?
Deno was born in Springdale, Newfoundland, but as with many Newfoundlanders in the 1970’s, he moved with his family to Manitoba where he grew up. After leaving Manitoba and the Yukon, he eventually made his way to Vancouver. Natalie was born in Edmonton, Alberta, but grew up on the beaches of Vancouver. As the stars aligned, they met (and went to an ACDC concert for their first date!) and were married. Working life eventually led them to the interior of B.C. and to Fort McMurray where their 3 children grew up. Yet, every summer was spent at their cabin in the 3 Island area of Green Bay South, Central Newfoundland. As the kids grew up and retirement loomed, Deno decided that he wanted to open a craft brewery. Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery is the completion of that decision. Located in Pilley’s Island, Central, the Brewery is in a totally renovated building that was built in the mining era of the local area, 150 years ago. Since then, it has been a Mercantile store, a Convenience Store and apartments, and is now the base of operations for the Brewery, Restaurant, and soon, the deluxe king and queen suites of the Inn.
How did you get into good beer, and decide to open a brewery of your own?
As we all know there are a number of craft breweries on the West Coast of Canada. With some very strong ties to friends in various positions in these breweries we have had a varied mentoring history with them… from understanding the process, the running of the crew, management and of course taste testing. Our close friends are in the process of opening Dungeons Distillery in Bonavista and have encouraged us to take the “brew route” as we navigate the myriad of checks and balances to get our doors open and our first batch brewed. We have not gone into this endeavour blindfolded, just blindsided as we have attempted to complete our dream in the year of COVID-19 and all the infuriating and costly delays (our fermenters were delayed 2.5 months from overseas). So with a little determination and educations we began the research. Deno enrolled in Brew School in Portland OR at LABrewatory and in Seattle WA.
Tell us about your location!
Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery is located 30 km off the TCH in the 3 Islands area of Green Bay South. There is water everywhere and a chance to enjoy it at every turn. We want to give the tourists a taste of this area by incorporating the old with the new. Our brewery has salvaged some fittings from the building’s former life, like the old 48″ door, the old pharmacy cabinet, the old safe, post office box and the old candy machines, while the flat screen TV, wifi and deluxe suites scream modern. The nearby hiking trails, water sports and boat tours will leave one in awe and needing a good craft beer and a place to tell the tall tales.
We have an on site consumption licence and a taproom accompanied by a full serviced kitchen which boasts an Italian dual-fuel pizza oven. We plan to pair our beers with our pub style menu. Eight taps are on the wall, and we hope will be pouring our own beer by the end of next month. The taproom can accommodate up to 70 people, with future plans for outdoor seating in beer garden style setting with fabulous harbour views of Pilley’s Island. As a service to visitors and locals alike, we have added fresh baked goods, pantry items, and groceries available for sale as well.
Tell us about your brewery and the beers you’ll be serving…
Our brew system is a state of the art 600 litre (5 BBL) system, with four fermenters of the same size. Because of the ever presence of COVID-19, we have already made changes to the original architectural ideas and incorporated a brewery that will be able to be flexible as the rules for living keep changing. [Ed note: Bumblebee Bight is using the SmartBrew system to prepare beer, using wort imported from elsewhere. We were not aware of this when the Profile was published] Our beers will include 6 signature beers which we hope to can and distribute. We have our logo printed on our flight and pint glasses and on our growlers and kegs. Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery – “Bunks, Brews and Bites, B’ys”. We know our branded 20 and 50 litre kegs will be a hit because here in Newfoundland there is plenty of play time year round. Our first to be brewed and available in kegs and cans will be Pretty Island Lager. We will also have a Pilsner, an IPA, a Wheat Ale and a couple of pale ales.
Where do you see Bumblebee Bight in the future?
Because our beers names are representing a few of the local aquatic points of interest, we hope to partner with local boat tour businesses to offer a Bumblebee Bight Brewery Boat Tour where guests will have the experience of consuming our brew while being treated to the natural beauty spots of this area. We intend to work with the other operators in the area to provide other venues to increase business. In three years, we hope that Bumblebee Bight Inn and Brewery is on the main route for a province wide brew tour. We hope the brewery can diversify and add local Newfoundland wines made from local berries grown right here in the Green Bay.
When will we be able to enjoy your beer?
Our hope was to open in late June of 2020 but with all the COVID-19 craziness and delays, we are 3 months behind schedule. We are open now for our food side and the customers have been complimenting us on the fabulous Italian pizzas with a bubble crust. The fermenters arrived last week (Aug 17) after a long delay. The grand opening of our tap house and Brewery will be mid September. Our five-room inn will be opening this fall.
Congratulations to Natalie and Deno on the opening of Bumblebee Bight! They are currently open daily (except Monday), noon til 7 PM (until 9PM Friday and Saturday) for food, at 188 Main Street in Pilley’s Island. Keep your eyes peeled on their Social Media (Fb/Ig) for the announcement of their Grand Opening and first beers flowing in the next few weeks.