Matt Tilley and Morgan Turner-Crocker are seen outside the building that will house their Bootleg Brew Co. on West Street in Corner Brook.
©Dru Kennedy photo
The craft brewing industry is coming alive on the west coast, but those getting involved in are not worried about the competition.
“They’re all about camaraderie in the craft beer community,” said Robert Sutton, one of the three men behind the Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. that’s setting up in Cormack.
“It’s like the more the merrier.”
Sutton said his group has toured the Port Rexton Brewing Company on the east coast and attended a session hosted there on starting up a microbrewery.
They’ve also toured the Western Newfoundland Brewing Co. in Pasadena to see how that operation works.
A microbrewery has to be a part of the community with others in the industry, said Matt Tilley, one of the owners of the Bootleg Brew Co. that’s getting set to open in Corner Brook.
“The biggest competition for us would be the macrobreweries,” said Tilley, referring to the brand name beer guys that have a big share of the marketplace when it comes to being in restaurants and liquor stores.
That’s why he believes working together would be advantageous for microbrewers.
“To kind of create a community and say that craft beer is better and we can make something that everyone can enjoy more than just these really big brews.”
And Sutton thinks there’s room out there for both the macro producers and the smaller ones like Crooked Feeder and Bootleg Brew.
“It’s almost like your franchised food versus your specialty restaurants.”
A look at the two companies
Crooked Feeder Brewing Co.
Owners: Robert Sutton, Cormack; Ray Brake, Corner Brook; and Corey Wight, Pasadena
Sutton has been into home brewing for some 20 years. Four years ago when Wight built a new house he bought a kegerator.
“And he figured out quite quickly that the easiest way to fill it up was to make our own beer,” said Sutton.
The friends tried a few simple kits. “But we figured out brewing beer from scratch like the breweries was the way to go.”
So they built their own equipment and got started making “really good beer.”
After some tasters suggested they should sell it the friends kicked around the idea for a bit, but felt it was cost prohibitive.
Seeing other microbreweries start up and learning about the process from them brought the idea back. Securing a commercial space belonging to his parents was all it took to make the idea a go.
Sutton said they hope to be brewing by late October. The plan is to start small with a two-barrel pilot system. The company will fill and sell growlers that can be delivered within the Deer Lake-Pasadena-Corner Brook area or picked up at the brewery.
They also plan to target one or two restaurants to ease into that market.
They’ll start with 16 barrels a month and grow that quarterly by eight barrels until they get to 32 barrels.
The end goal is to add a summer-time taproom to the brewery to attract visitors. “Anything to build up the community.”
Crooked Feeder Brewing Co. will be composting some of its waste and providing some grains to a local cattle farmer as feed.
On starting up, Sutton said: “It’s more about being confident in the skills you’ve got and just developing them.”
Bootleg Brew Co.
Owners: Matt Tilley and Morgan Turner-Crocker
Location: West Street, Corner Brook
Tilley and Turner-Crocker have been in the restaurant industry for all of their adult lives.
“And we’ve both had a really great interest in beer for all of that as well,” said Tilley, who taught himself how to brew beer while in culinary school.
While living in Ontario a friend in the brewing program at Niagara College introduced him to a lot of different beers.
“And that’s when I realized that beer could be a lot tastier than the macro-produced (varieties).”
He and Turner-Crocker met while working at a local restaurant and soon discovered a shared interest in beer and brewing.
“I think it’s being a part of the restaurant industry,” said Tilley. “It’s something you have to deal with on a daily basis and more people are realizing that food pairs with beer just as well as it pairs with wine.”
They launched their plans to open a microbrewery last September with an Indiegogo campaign. While it helped raise some funds, Tilley said the campaign was mostly about creating awareness and the show of support generated was useful when it came time to seek bank financing.
Bootleg Brew Co. will be located in the old Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant building and Tilley and Turner-Crocker are looking at starting production in mid-October.
Their plan is to operate a three-barrel brewing system with six fermenters. They’ll be able to produce three batches a week using recipes they’ve developed and have plans for some seasonal brews.
Bootleg Brew Co. will have a taproom on site with the option of purchasing a tasting plate or by the pint and will also sell growlers. They’re also looking for restaurants across the island to carry their product.
Both projects are currently going through provincial government’s environmental assessment stage. Decisions are expected on both before the end of this month. If successful they’ll move to acquire the necessary permits to begin operation.