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Craft brewery in Port au Port East should be open by Christmas

Jason Hynes and Sheila Dwyer, owner-operators of Secret Cove Brewery in Port au Port East, pose for a photo in their building they plan to have opened to the public before Christmas.
Jason Hynes and Sheila Dwyer, owner-operators of Secret Cove Brewery in Port au Port East, pose for a photo in their building they plan to have opened to the public before Christmas. - Frank Gale

The focus for husband and wife team of Jason Hynes and Sheila Dwyer with their new craft brewery is to create a “gathering place.”

“We’re creating an atmosphere where people will want to come in for a chat, perhaps have a pint of beer and listen to music by local performers,” Hynes said.

After a year of consultation and planning followed by a year of renovations and building, Secret Cove Brewery in Port au Port East opened its doors to the public before Christmas.

Hynes, originally from Port au Port East and Dwyer, from Lower Sackville outside Halifax, N.S., got the idea of starting up their own craft brewery business after seeing it take off in Nova Scotia.

The two were used to jumping in the car on the weekend and travelling to the same type brewery in Nova Scotia.

Hynes said there’s a lot of excitement about these types of establishments on the island right now, with 12 already in operation and he expects more to come.

Ironically, it was Dwyer who convinced her husband to move back to his hometown and she’s fitting in well living in the small town and working as a family physician in Stephenville.

“I love where we live, the small community — I settled in right away, especially because there so much outdoor activities, it’s been great,” Dwyer said.

The couple moved back in December of 2016 and made their plans to open their craft brewery next to their home off Hynes Road in a location they call Secret Cove. In 2017 the opportunity came up to purchase the former Viking Lounge building and since that time they’ve been working at getting it ready for operation.

Jason and his dad Gus Hynes have been doing a lot of the renovations themselves and have had tradespeople in to carry out work they couldn’t do.

With a coastal theme and lots of localized décor, the Hynes have been collecting and receiving items to make the interior unique. In addition to items on shelves and the walls, the father and son did the floors with black spruce and Paul Benoit did the bar with Newfoundland juniper.

There’s driftwood, along with whale bones among the trimmings and the tables and chairs are all repurposed.

But overall, the couple said it’s all about the beer they will be making, starting off with four types and moving into others as they go along.

“We’ll be bringing different styles of beers to the area that people typically wouldn’t have the chance to buy,” Dwyer said.

One thing she’s proud of in the décor are the tap handles, made from a combination of local juniper and purple heart, a dense wood that her parents Bev and Bob Dwyer salvaged during their sailing days from a small island off Trinidad.

“We’ve worked so hard and we want to share it (building and beer),” she said.

Secret Cove Brewing Beer Styles at opening:

Malt Water Joys – English Brown Ale

When In Stout – Irish Stout

Hard Case In Your Face – Double IPA

James Blond 00709 – Belgian Blond Ale

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