Islanders get first taste of homegrown beer

Mitch MacDonald
Published on September 25, 2011
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.”