The RagnaRock Northern Brewing Company logo is front and centre on the building's front window. STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTHERN PEN
The three directors of the RagnaRock Brewery are, from left, Jennifer and Brad Simms and Dr. Lauren Smithson. They're pictured with a special guest, Sug. CONTRIBUTED
Dr. Lauren Smithson was busy staining the wooden beams in the brewpub as the team prepares for the opening of the microbrewery. STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTHERN PEN
Brad Simms, one of the three directors of the RagnaRock Northern Brewing Company, will be the brewer when the microbrewery opens this fall. STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTHERN PEN
"A great addition to the community"
St. Anthony residents and visitors might be just another month away from enjoying locally brewed craft beer.
Renovations are almost complete for the RagnaRock Northern Brewing Company and company owners are now projecting an opening date around the end of September.
The company will open the hotly anticipated microbrewery at the “Clock Shop” on West Street.
It will be the first microbrewery to open on the Great Northern Peninsula.
On Monday, Brad Simms, the brewer and one of three directors of the company, along with his wife Jennifer and Lauren Smithson, provided The Northern Pen a status update.
All of the brewing equipment is now installed downstairs. It includes four fermentation vessels, a hot liquor tank, kettle and mash tun.
Simms says they can produce six hectoliters or 600 litres in a single brew. They’re hoping one brew will take about seven to 10 days.
Simms has not tested the equipment yet but is hoping to have beer in the tanks within two weeks for a trial run.
It’s just a matter of making sure everything is sanitized before trying it out.
He stressed the importance of cleanliness in a brewery.
“The biggest thing about the brewery is the cleanliness,” he said. “Your beer recipes can be good but if you got any kind of infections or whatever, you’ll have off-flavour and so on. Basically, I’m a full-time cleaner as well as brewer.”
Brewing on this scale will be a whole new experience for Simms.
“I’m a home brewer, I bought the equipment – it’s like this, except on a miniature scale – so I’m used to the process, just this is my first time with a big system,” he said.
He added they have hired a consultant to assist with the brewing process.
Preparing the building
Although the brewery was initially slated to be open this summer, the building required more work than the directors anticipated.
It entailed a total redesign of the interior.
A contractor was hired early on to do most of the major work, but now the directors are performing the finishing touches themselves.
Simms feels the extra attention was warranted given the historic value of the building as a former Grenfell property, and its location within the town.
“We’re in a prime location and this historic building – it’s been extra work and cost to get this place restored but it adds a whole new character,” he said. “We wanted to keep it as close as we could to the original without destroying too much.”
They left the exterior unaltered.
As for the clock tower, looming high over the building, Simms says they’re hoping it can be repaired.
What's in a name?
The name "RagnaRock" is a twist on the Viking word ‘ragnarok,’ which means end of the world.
The word rock was included as a nod to Newfoundland’s nickname, "The Rock."
What you can expect
Starting out, the company will be brewing six different beers of their own, and will carry product from other breweries.
Wine will also be available for anyone who doesn’t drink beer.
Simms estimates the brewpub will hold a maximum capacity, including staff, of about 150 people.
A stage has been installed where musicians can perform. The company has all the sound equipment on hand.
Plans are still to be finalized for the brewery’s opening day.
Simms was enthused about the possibilities that lay ahead.
“We’re looking forward to it and we know a lot of people are too,” he said. “It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be a great addition to the community for sure.”