While satisfying her wanderlust, the path of yeast resistance for Kayla Walters has always involved sating her desire for good beer.
On solo trips through Europe, the United States, and other parts of Canada, she’s found the best way to gain an appreciation for the flavour of a new city or country is by sampling their suds.
“When you’re drinking beer, it’s always that communal experience where you get to create a new little family.- Kayla Walters
“The easiest way for me to get out and see it was to look up brewery tours or craft beer tours in the area,” says Walters, who was born in B.C. but lived her formative years between Paradise and Marystown.
“I loved it because you get to meet 12 or 15 new people, find out their stories in addition to drinking the beer being produced in the area and learning about the history and culture.”
Last Christmas, Walters, an outgoing and affable sort, engaged in a conversation with some visitors from Ontario over pints at a George Street pub. Impressed by the number of craft beer options available and Walters’ intimate knowledge of local breweries, the visitors suggested she do it for a living.
It wasn’t long before the idea began fermenting in the back of her mind.
“I really thought to myself, ‘how do we live in St. John’s, we drink the second-largest amount of beer in Canada and we have nothing here in terms of a cultural experience that celebrates the beer that we make and are known for here and our drinking culture other than Screech-ins and we do that really well.’”
Six months later, Walters is set to entertain and educate her first group of guests this weekend through her company St. John’s Beer Tours.
“What I’ve ended up with is different from what I set out to do, but it’s for the best. I’m so pleased with how it’s all panned out
Pulling out all the hops
Ale’s well that ends well
While Quidi Vidi and Yellowbelly are well-established brands in the province, Walters says with major growth in the craft brew industry over the past few years and more to come, now was the perfect time to tap into the beer tour market.
“The beer industry here is growing exponentially,” says Walters. “Last year we had five, within the next year we’ll have six more.”
On the way are Split Rock Brewing in Twillingate, Bootleg Brewing in Corner Brook, Scud Runner Brewery in Gander, the Dildo Brewing Company, Killick Stone Brewing in Petty Harbour and the Newfoundland Cider Company in Milton. Already off the ground are Pasadena’s Western Newfoundland Brewing and Storm Brewery in Mount Pearl.
Even though all these companies are out to make a unique product and ultimately turn a profit, Walters insists there’s already a strong sense of community in the local brew scene.
“The sense of community that I’m finding in the brewing industry and the craft beer scene, it’s kind of electric. Everyone wants to help out each other. Nobody is cutthroat. I think that’s really unique.”
Walters expects that a number of her beer-loving guests will be out-of-province visitors, but she’s hopeful that Newfoundlanders will give in to beer pressure and learn more about the growing variety of options in their own backyard.
“If there’s anything Newfoundlanders are good at it, it’s supporting the things from Newfoundland, that’s why I see this doing very well.
“We are very proud of who we are and proud of what we produce and wanting to support that.”