ROSE VALLEY — After almost two years of anticipation, Islanders are now enjoying cold mugs of P.E.I.’s Barnone beer.
Brewed by father and son Hughie and Don Campbell, the beer features hops grown on-site at the brewery location in Rose Valley.
It is being sold at four locations right now, including The Olde Triangle, Baba’s Lounge and Cedar’s Eatery in Charlottetown, and the Landing Oyster House and Pub in Tyne Valley.
The brewery has also held an event where two-litre growlers were sold from an on-site outlet, which Hughie said they hope to continue on Thursday nights.
That’s welcome news for Island beer enthusiasts after the up-and-coming brand had stolen the show at the inaugural P.E.I. Beer Festival in 2011.
“When we showed at the festival, we just had a little five-litre fermenter,” said Hughie during an interview with The Guardian.
While it was a small operation, the successful reception was eye-opening for the two.
“We realized we could do the product and that people were acceptable to the taste of our product,” he said. “When we finished that festival, we sat down and said, ‘Where do we go from here? Do we try to go to a certain market with this small amount we can produce and drive ourselves crazy? Or do we stop and rebuild?’”
“That’s what we did. We got a new business model and decided the size we wanted to start with.”
Since then, the two have spent more than 18 months putting equipment in place and reconfiguring Hughie’s old barn into a brewery.
It’s a great deal different from how it looked in 2002.
It was that year when Hughie suffered a heart attack and realized that continuing to work in the cattle industry wasn’t a possibility.
That realization led to the two deciding to focus on their own “farming to fermenting” brewery, where they could grow their own ingredients for the final product.
“We saw this as an opportunity to start reusing our land,” said Hughie during an earlier interview with The Guardian. “That’s where it’s all derived from.”
The operation now includes three 500-litre fermenters, one of which is used as a conditioning tank.
“We’re totally satisfied with the equipment and how it works. Part of that comes from the fact that Don was the designer,” said Hughie. “The fact he knows his equipment so well has kind of prevented us from having any major setbacks so far.”
Once Internet is wired to the barn, the brewery is also rigged to be operated offsite.
Right now, a brew every week would produce about 25,000 litres a year.
“We’re already brewing at a capacity of what our expectations were at the end of year one,” said Don. “And already the reception has been far in excess of what we expected.”
With much of the overhead costs now in place, Hughie adds they could easily multiply production to 125,000 litres a year with a little extra equipment.
“But you’ve got to develop a market as you go,” he said.
The future is looking bright for the brewery.
There are plans to make the operation a cultural centre where tours could see how the product is brewed from start to finish.
Already using their own water supply, the two are also doing trial runs of growing and using their own barley for brewing.
With two flavours now being sold, a light drinking summer sessions beer and a hoppier pale ale, more can also be expected on the horizon.
“We’re looking forward to bringing out some new and exciting other varieties too,” said Don. “It’s excellent to see it being received so well by people. That helps us to realize what we already knew: that we have a great product and people on P.E.I. are ready for a good flavourful beer.”
However, for now, Hughie said the two will be working on continuing to develop and grow their brand.
Barnone Brewery can be found on Facebook.