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Sister-in-laws Angie Reid, left, and Debbie George are two of the four owners of the Dildo Brewing Company and Museum, which opened to the public on Thursday, June 28.
Sister-in-laws Angie Reid, left, and Debbie George are two of the four owners of the Dildo Brewing Company and Museum, which opened to the public on Thursday, June 28. - Andrew Robinson

New business gives new life to local museum and another reason for tourists to visit the community

Lionel Rodrigues is the brewer in Dildo.
Lionel Rodrigues is the brewer in Dildo.

DILDO, N.L. — Dildo has been a popular tourist spot for decades, with many visitors determined to get a shot of themselves standing next to a sign bearing the town’s name.

But now there’s another reason for tourists to swing by the Trinity South community. With the craft beer scene exploding across Canada over the last decade, the Dildo Brewing Company and Museum finds itself in the enviable position of being the first brewery to open in the Trinity-Conception area within that time frame. Located along the shore with a full view of the harbour, the business officially opened its doors to the public last Thursday, June 28.

“When I’m upstairs in the tap room and I look out the windows, each window looks like a portrait,” brewer Lionel Rodrigues told The Compass, standing next to tanks he uses to produce the beer. “Dildo is a beautiful, historic fishing village, and out in the bay it’s a whaling area, so now the capelin are in, so it’s not uncommon to see a whale playing around, chasing some capelin, or to see gannets diving.”

The brewery was the brainchild of a brother and sister (Angie Reid and Roger George) and their partners (Rob Reid and Debbie George).

“Between the four of them, I love the way they work,” Rodrigues said. “They all have different skills and focuses, but between them they talk everything out and they come up with very good answers to just about any question. So being part of a cohesive team is really encouraging.”

The museum has two summer students to show off its many artifacts.
The museum has two summer students to show off its many artifacts.

The two-storey space has a tap room and kitchen upstairs and a museum below it. The Society of United Fishermen Lodge 84 looked after the museum for decades. When the group decided it could no longer look after the space, the team behind the brewery got involved. The revamped museum includes a variety of artifacts and old trinkets that help tell stories about the local indigenous people, the fishery and how Newfoundlanders lived in the days before modern conveniences.

“That creates a lot of local pride, because a lot of locals here have donated items to the museum, so they’re still able to come by, see what they donated there or their fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers donated and take pride in the place,” Rodrigues said.

The brewery currently has four flagship beers on tap — a red ale infused with local beets, IPA, stout and blonde. Rodrigues is also part of the family responsible for Rodrigues Winery in Whitbourne. Prior to getting into the brewing business professionally, he got some useful instructional time with a variety of craft beer makers, including YellowBelly brewmaster Liam McKenna and Greg Nash from Unfiltered Brewing in Halifax.

“There’s a lot of support in this industry, and that’s what makes it really fun,” he said.

The 10-barrel system allows Dildo Brewing to produce upwards of 7,000 litres every two weeks. In addition to the flagship beers, the brewery plans to introduce other varieties over time. Chatting with The Compass the day after it first opened for business, Rodrigues said they were days away from being ready to serve a blueberry blonde ale featuring berries sourced from Bev Walsh’s farm in Avondale.

Like most craft breweries on the island, Dildo Brewing Company and Museum allows customers to take home some beer in a 1.9-litre refillable growler.
Like most craft breweries on the island, Dildo Brewing Company and Museum allows customers to take home some beer in a 1.9-litre refillable growler.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said. “My main goal is to nail down the four base recipes first, and once I can copy those and make them replicable, I’m going to start to look at other seasonals. And the way we want to do seasonals is based on what’s available locally. We want to use a lot of local products and produce. Like we use beet for our red (ale). Beet is a beautiful colouring agent and it’s natural and easy to find in Newfoundland. Blueberries, I think Newfoundland has the best in the world. I think it’s a great place to do a blueberry beer.”

The interest in Newfoundland ingredients also extends to other Newfoundland breweries. Rodrigues said the Dildo Brewing Company plans to feature the work of fellow craft beer makers on a guest tap.

“All the craft breweries around like to work together, and that way we can swap and trade and when you come to Newfoundland, you can get a full craft beer experience.”

Weblink: https://www.facebook.com/dildobrewingmuseum/

editor@cbncompass.ca

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