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NEWFOUNDLAND BEER, ICEBERG VODKA, SCREECH AND BERRY WINES

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Iceberg Beer, Quidi Vidi Brewing Co.
Iceberg Beer, Quidi Vidi Brewing Co.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Beer made with iceberg water? Only in Newfoundland. And it's much more than an ice-cold brew, as we discovered when we visited Quidi Vidi Brewing Company, which makes Iceberg Beer.

Located in St. John's, the brewery is close to Iceberg Alley, where hundreds of massive icebergs float south along the coast every summer. Mitch Gilbert, Events & Hospitality Manager, explained that Quidi Vidi's iceberg water comes from off the Bonavista Peninsula coast.

"We hire a company that goes out in an ice-harvesting barge. They collect bergy bits — chunks of ice that have broken off larger icebergs."

The ice goes into storage tanks where it melts. Large quantities of oxygen trapped inside the water influences the taste of the beer.

Tasting Iceberg Beer

Visitors can sample seven of Quidi Vidi's ales and lagers during tastings and brewery tours.

The taste of Iceberg Beer, poured from cobalt blue bottles, is different than the company's Honey Brown Ale, Quidi Vidi Light, 1892 Traditional Ale and other brews. To our palates, Iceberg Beer had a crisp, clean taste, with a natural carbonation that tickled our tongues. It also lacked the bitterness and aftertaste of other beers.

Case of Quidi Vidi Light, Honey Brown and Premium beers
Case of Quidi Vidi Light, Honey Brown and Premium beers
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Brewery tours

Gilbert showed us large sacks of malted barley from Western Canada. Ground and mixed with water and mashed, the barley yields a sugar-rich wort. After boiling the wort in large, stainless steel kettles, the brewmaster adds hops and transfers the mixture to fermentation tanks.

Brewers yeast initiates fermentation. After completion, Quidi Vidi ages the beer for at least 14 days, and then filters and bottles it.

Kitchen parties

In addition to tours and tastings, Quidi Vidi Brewery hosts pop-up dinners and very popular kitchen parties with local music, usually provided by The Brew Group. Mallard Cotttage, a Quidi Vidi Village restaurant, provides pots of fresh seafood chowder or meat stew with big homemade rolls, all available for a donation. In good weather, you can sit outdoors at picnic tables on the wharf.

Bottles of Iceberg Vodka
Bottles of Iceberg Vodka
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

There's only one big disappointment for visitors to the brewery. Quidi Vidi beers are only available in Newfoundland.

Iceberg Vodka

Newfoundland makes many other beverages in addition to beer. Iceberg Vodka is also made from melted 12,000-year-old icebergs. Blended in Newfoundland, the vodka is packaged in bottles with edges that resemble ice crystals.

The 26-oz bottles are sold in other provinces, as well as Newfoundland liquor stores.

Screech

Without a doubt, the most famous drink in Newfoundland and Labrador is Screech. The dark rum originated in Jamaica.

Schooners delivered salt cod to the Jamaicans and returned to Newfoundland with their holds filled with high-octane rum.

Newfoundland Screech rum
Newfoundland Screech rum
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

According to legend, the name originated from the shriek of a Second World War American officer who swigged a shot of it for the first time. His scream was so loud that a sergeant pounded on the door, asking: "What was that ungodly screech?"

Now toned down to 40 per cent alcohol by the liquor board, the potent rum is a pre-requisite for Screach-In ceremonies, which make visitors honorary Newfoundlanders.

Rodrigues wines

Lesser known than Screech is Rodrigues, a Markland NL cottage winery located on the Avalon Peninsula, 80 kilometers west of St. John's. Newfoundland's first winery, it produces several berry wines.

Barrens Blend combines their full-bodied blueberry wine with tart partridgeberries. Bakeapple (cloudberry) wine is semi-sweet and fruity, while their strawberry wine is smooth and amber-colored.

Auk Island Winery

Located in Twillingate NL, Auk Island Winery also makes berry wines. Many display humorous labels and names reflecting Newfoundland icons.

Funky Puffin is a medium-sweet wine made with local blueberries and rhubarb. Moose Joose is a blueberry and partridgeberry blend, while Krooked Kod combines blueberries and raspberries.

Auk Island Winery uses iceberg water to make medium-sweet wines from bakeapples (cloudberries), blueberries, raspberries and cranberries. It also combines raspberry wine with dark rum to make Outport Raspberry Screech.

Auk Island Funky Puffin and Moose Joose, Rodrigues Winery Barrens Blend wines
Auk Island Funky Puffin and Moose Joose, Rodrigues Winery Barrens Blend wines
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

What if you don't drink beer, vodka, Screech rum or wine? No problem. Strong black tea, often served with evaporated milk rather than 2% homogenized milk, is another popular Newfoundland beverage.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Quidi Vidi Brewery

Rodrigues Winery

Auk Island Winery

Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

More things to see & do in Newfoundland:

Newfoundland Foods, Cuisine and Traditional Dishes

Adventure Canada Newfoundland Circumnavigation Cruise Expedition

Newfoundland Wildflowers and Granite | Southwest Coast Garia Bay Hike

Newfoundland Traditional Music in Black Duck Brook - Port-au-Port

L'Anse aux Meadows UNESCO Site Tour - Visitor Center, Trail and Sod Huts