Islanders get first taste of homegrown beer

Mitch MacDonald
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Hughie Campbell shows the hops he’s grown and its finished product at the P.E.I. Beer Festival Saturday. The Island beer, which uses ingredients grown by Hughie, was a smash at the festival and should be available in some restaurants by early winter. Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

Barnone beer tastes like Prince Edward Island.

Which is no surprise, as the father and son owners of the brand, Hughie and Don Campbell, take great pride in their unique operation located in Rose Valley.

The operation consists of the Campbells growing their own barley and hops, the two essential ingredients for beer, as well as using their own water supply.

The up-and-coming beer brand got its first public feedback Saturday in Charlottetown at the P.E.I. Beer Festival where the Campbells showcased Summer Sessions, Pale Ale and IPA brews.

Reception to the brew was hugely favourable throughout the day, with the brand being a popular draw to the first ever beer festival for P.E.I.

The festival, organized by Campbell Webster Entertainment, featured more than 40 brands of beer.

But Barnone seemed to stand out among the rest.

During the evening tasting session, those wanting to try the homegrown beer had to wait in a lineup extending to the entrance of the festival.

But a tasty beer doesn’t come without hard work. The brew underwent rigorous testing before Barnone was granted a one-day license so it could be sampled at the festival.

For the past year or so, the Campbells have looked at the requirements for a microbrewery, where they will soon brew their product while also being licensed for an on-site outlet.

The operation earned approval from various groups, such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, provincial environment and fire department.

And there’s still a few details to work out before the product will be available to Islanders, said Hughie.

“I would say we’re minutes away,” he said. “We’re very close.”

 The unique aspect of Barnone, is that the company is brewing product from their own barley and hops, literally making the beer from scratch.

“We have a little term we use, ‘from farming to fermenting,’ " said Hughie, adding that the operation will be self-sufficient in theory.

The project originated from Hughie’s small farm and former cattle operation.

After suffering a heart attack in 2002, continuing to work in the cattle industry wasn’t a possibility.

But with Hughie’s agricultural knowledge, and Don’s wealth of experience he has accumulated in the brewing industry, putting the two skills together made sense.

“We saw this as an opportunity to start reusing our land,” said Hughie. “That’s where it all derived from.”

He added the family hopes to make their operation a cultural centre for beer, offering tours to get up close and see how the product is brewed from start to finish.

By early winter, they hope to supply their beer to different distributors, such as Island restaurants.

By spring, they hope to be licensed on location, where they’ll be able to offer samples and sell two-liter growlers.

Hughie added that they’ll also eventually look at the possibility of a bottling operation, where they’ll be able to offer more sizes than the growlers.

While that may not happen for a while, Hughie said the operation will be small until sales get going.

“We’ve spent a lot of time planning,” said Hughie. “But so far, we’re right on target.”

Organizations: Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Rose Valley, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • ToBeer
    October 01, 2011 - 14:04

    Beer nuts.Next time should show how productive and accessible PEI is.

  • James E.
    September 28, 2011 - 17:43

    Despite the long lines I thought the organizers did a good job at PEI's first beerfest. With the exception of Picaroons (tainted) all the beers were very fresh. Barnone's beers were the best IMHO and I wish all the best to the Campbells Rose Valley venture.

  • PeiHomeBrewer
    September 26, 2011 - 22:24

    To those who are complaining about how few of vendors there was: Quality over quantity, my friends. The offerings from Bar None, Garrison, and Picaroon's more than made up for the lack of vendors. I was quite impressed with the Bar None offerings; the pale ale and IPA were excellent. I am sorry to hear about people's bad experience with the evening tasting, but the afternoon tasting (the one I attended) went without a hitch. I never waited more than a couple of minutes in any line. In the end, I am not sure it was worth the $37.50 I payed, but I enjoyed the experience, and hope this becomes a yearly event (let's hope for some US craft beers next time; e.g: Dogfish Head and Southern Tier).

  • Bill
    September 26, 2011 - 20:47

    Pesticides and dead fish? Come on. If that's what you think of when you think of PEI, than maybe you should move away. The tag line of "Tastes like PEI" is not their tag line, it was the Guardians tag line in the article. I wish the best to these ambitious entrepreneurs.

  • Dave Little
    September 26, 2011 - 19:21

    I was there for the Beer Fest for the evening show, I was happy I went. Being from NB I noticed plenty of the beer's, Garrison, Picaroons, Bavaria, etc. are available in NB already however I was extremely impressed with the new Barnone brews, especially the Pale Ale and IPA. I wish Gahan House had showed up, they have been great quality wise. I know from the few people spoke to who enjoy micro-brews and good full body flavoured beers enjoyed the new island brew though and we all can't wait. I will say the lines were a bit high, could have had maybe two or three taps per table to speed things up, however for the first one it's tough to work out those kinks and I am sure it'll get better when they do it again. Thanks for the Festival!

  • berry
    September 26, 2011 - 16:18

    beerfest was a large flop ! way over sold ,with the line up so long that it took me 2 hours to visit 6 booths, a huge waste of money !

    • Beer Fest Okay
      September 26, 2011 - 22:50

      Here's the thing: Those who were there loved it from what I could tell...unless they just wanted to get messed up. I went to the Beer Fest and the evening was kind of jammed...I was frustrated for about ten minutes...but I went to both sessions...and noticed that that some of the staff tried to help by giving some samples in the lineups...and the afternoon was a lot better...But I loved them both...the long wait was in the end okay in the evening....if you didn't only want to get stupid drunk ...Barnone is amazing...Drunks like Neil really shouldn't come to these events...

    • The Quintinus Crime Gang
      September 27, 2011 - 08:50

      Buy a bunch of cars and drive around in circles all day, then buy a bunch of mooselight and pump the rest of your coin into vlt's. Then stalk people online, this is a wise use of money and time. The wisest.

  • Neil
    September 26, 2011 - 14:30

    Beerfest sucked. It was very oversold, line ups for a tiny sample of beer ranged from 20 -40 minutes. There were only 8 venders and 2 of them ran out before I got to them. I don't understand why that was $40 for so few beer samples. The should have sold 1/4 the tickets for that few vendors in that smal space. I've been to the wine shows, and I've been to Halifax's beer fest and I've never waited longer then 5-6 minutes for a sample. That said, the Island brewery had some great beer, I suggest trying the Pale Ale if you get a chance.

  • Mell
    September 26, 2011 - 11:29

    Gahan House didn't show up- maybe they did not want to get shown-up!! Their beer is very over-priced. I wish the Campbell's well in their new endeavour, but the name does not do the product justice- I would seriously think that it will be a joke- like the pesticide and dead fish comment, and perhaps, gritty like the beach sand, or foul like the politics, or bitter, like alot of folks- and on and on. In the end, if the beer businesses do not succeed, the hops and barley can be sold to micro breweries.

  • Disappointed
    September 26, 2011 - 10:47

    I was REALLY disappointed in this 'Beer Fest'.. 40 dollars for 6 vendors? It was a rip off.. I did hear good things about Bar None, and I'm glad there is another micro brewery, but it would have been nice to have an actual 'Fest', instead of the ridiculous showing that we did have. At least with the Wine Festival, you get a free drinking glass.. I hope if they continue with this venue, that they make it a lot better next time..I should have asked for my money back, like a lot of the people did..

  • Yikes
    September 26, 2011 - 09:46

    Tastes like Prince Edward Island? What is that - pesticides and dead fish? I wish them all the best, but I don't think they should be working that tagline to hard..

      September 26, 2011 - 12:44

      LOL! Agreed.

  • Where to get it
    September 26, 2011 - 09:27

    Is there anywhere this beer is sold that we can try it, if we weren't at the festival?

  • Beer taster
    September 26, 2011 - 08:55

    Congrats on undertaking this venture! Can't wait to sample your brand!

  • Excited Beer Man
    September 26, 2011 - 08:39

    I was at the beer festival, and the Barnone beer was really good. And the fact they grow it from scratch is also really interesting. I was told that they are not organically certified, but they do not use any pesticides on their hops and barley. As for Gahan House Beer, they didn't even show up at PEI's first Beer Festival, using some cop-out that they didn't have enough volume (load of hops). I guess with better tasting competition on the scene, Gahan will have to make some changes to their over priced, under-managed brew.

  • The Crime Gang of MORONS
    September 26, 2011 - 07:46

    It's beats drinking garbage juice thats for sure.

  • canadianinmaine
    September 26, 2011 - 07:24

    Congrats to you! Too bad you will not be selling your beer this fall, as we will be making our yearly visit home. But maybe by next autumn? My husband has his fingers and toes crossed....