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Rough Waters Brewing Company will be the first microbrewery in Deer Lake

Christopher Johnson is aiming to have his new microbrewery open in Deer Lake this fall. Rough Waters Brewing Company will be located on Wight’s Road.
Christopher Johnson is aiming to have his new microbrewery open in Deer Lake this fall. Rough Waters Brewing Company will be located on Wight’s Road. - Diane Crocker

Owners aiming to start serving suds this fall

DEER LAKE, N.L. —

After navigating a different career path, Christopher Johnson is hoping a venture into the craft beer industry will bring him success.

Johnson is owner of Rough Waters Brewing Company Ltd., a microbrewery that will be located in Deer Lake.

Originally from the east coast, Johnson has called the west coast, specifically Pasadena, home for just over a year.

Rough Waters, he said, is a name that will resonate with Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole.

“Calling it Rough Waters is meant to represent the resilience and perseverance of this province and the people, like myself and my partner, that call it home.”

Johnson studied mechanical engineering technology at College of the North Atlantic and after graduation moved to Colorado for work.

It was there he was introduced to craft beer.

There are so many different flavours, tastes and styles, and that is what makes craft beer enjoyable for him.

But it’s not just the drink, it’s the atmosphere and environment of the microbreweries that also add to the popularity. 

Johnson started to play with the idea of opening his own microbrewery when he moved back to this province.

He first tried his hand at home brewing to see if he could make a good beer.

While testing his skills, he started talking with other breweries where he found lots of encouragement and feedback for his brews.

That’s another thing about the craft brewery industry; it’s a welcoming one.

Before moving to the west coast Johnson worked for the Port Rexton Brewing Co. He said the people there welcomed him and were willing to help him get the experience he needed.

Since moving to this area he’s connected with Bootleg Brew Co.

Rough Waters will be located on Wight’s Road. Johnson said he chose Deer Lake because there is no other brewery there. 

His plan is to sell a packaged product in 500-millilitre bottles and he’ll be working with some different yeasts and techniques.

He plans to add a tasting area next spring.

Being the only microbrewery in the town, Johnson said he’ll be doing some marketing education to get everyone to know what to expect from craft beer.

Reaching out to their audience is something he said other breweries have been doing a good job of, especially through the hosting of events.

And with the town a tourism hub, Johnson expects he’ll be able to benefit from the large number of visitors that come through.

Johnson has been working on his plan for over two years, from choosing a location to fine-tuning his business plan. He’s passed the provincial environmental assessment process and now needs to get the regulatory permissions necessary to operate and the design approved for renovations to the industrial space he’s leasing.

He said the town has been very receptive to his venture and helpful with the process. 

He’s aiming for a fall opening.

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