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Mount Pearl craft brewery co-owner Jennifer Defreyne dies

The Landwash Brewery team consists of (from left) Jennifer Defreyne, Chris Conway and Christina Coady. Construction of the Mount Pearl-based microbrewery, taproom and retail store began this week, and plans are for the first beers to be poured by late this year.  — Photo by Alick Tsui
Jennifer Defreyne (left), a co-owner of Landwash Brewery in Mount Pearl, and an accomplished engineer, died Monday. With her are business partners Chris Conway and Christina Coady. (Alick Tsui Photo) - Contributed

Ontario native worked as Vale hydrometallurgist before co-founding Landwash Brewery

MOUNT PEARL, N.L. —

Jennifer Defreyne was the type of person who instantly made friends, and her loss has devastated those who loved her.

“That was the thing about Jen, she made friends everywhere and quickly,” said Christina Coady, who with Chris Conway and Defreyne founded and owned Landwash Brewery in Mount Pearl.

“It just shows the type of person she was that she found amazing people and kind of collected them. She had a very magnetic personality, was a lot of fun to talk to and had a very engaging spirit.”

Defreyne died Monday at age 45 after a 15-month battle with cancer.

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We’re deeply saddened to share that Jennifer Defreyne (left), the co-owner and founder of Landwash Brewery, has passed away after a fifteen-month long battle with cancer. So many of you know Jen, her tenacious spirit, passion for our brewery, and this province. . Jen was from Ontario but lived and worked here in Newfoundland for many years as a respected, knowledgeable, and trusted engineer – most recently before leaving to start Landwash – at Vale, Long Harbour. When she heard that two Newfoundlander’s – working in the brewing industry in Ontario – were aiming to get back home to open a brewery, her love of beer and taking on interesting engineering challenges made for too exciting an opportunity to pass up. . Jen was the architect of so much of Landwash in those first months of planning, scouting dozens of locations, negotiating leases, writing up articles of incorporation, and securing financing. She designed our steam system and drew massive piping diagrams to turn an empty warehouse into a brewery; always with the dream of having years of projects and technical challenges to look forward to solving as we grew. . Jen was and will always be a fundamental part of the fabric of Landwash Brewery. Landwash will continue on with the vision we set out together. She was, and always will be, an inspiration to us all. We’ve put her family written obituary in our profile link. They have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

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The Ontario native had a big influence on Newfoundland and Labrador in her involvement in the design and construction of the Long Harbour Nickel Refinery. Other accomplishments over the course of a 22-year-engineering career as a hydrometallurgist included the UHC Copper Refinery in Brazil.

An expert in engineering and project management, she knew nothing about brewing, but educated herself in the subject, becoming the architect of much of Landwash, from scouting locations, negotiating leases and financing, to designing the steam piping systems, Coady said.

The loss of their friend has been tough for Coady, Conway and the staff, many of whom were hired from Defreyne’s diverse circle of friends.

Defreyne was best friends with Coady’s aunt and uncle, and when Coady’s mother mentioned at a dinner party that her daughter wanted to start a brewery, Defreyne picked up on the comment and said she wanted to open a brewery as well.

The three eventual partners met in Toronto over a beer and went on to develop a business plan over many meetings and phone calls, with Conway and Coady moving home to Newfoundland and Labrador from Ontario — where they were working in the brewing industry — in 2017.

“She is the reason my partner and I came back to Newfoundland, to do this,” Coady said.

"In the period before her illness she had become a mentor for me. She was someone I really looked up to.” — Christina Coady

“So, while we knew this day was coming for a long time, it’s still very upsetting. In the period before her illness she had become a mentor for me. She was someone I really looked up to.”

Defreyne scouted out locations, driving around the Avalon on her motorcycle, all while still working at Vale.

She toured breweries in Toronto, made friends with bartenders and, through them, developed contacts with the owners and brewmasters, Coady recalled.

Defreyne left the Long Harbour project in 2018 to immerse herself in the brewery, which opened in April 2018.

“She had passion for whatever she did,” Coady said.

Her passions also included hockey and other sports.

In July 2018, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and was reluctant, even then, to step away, such was her dedication to realizing the dream, Coady said.

Defreyne is survived by her partner, Jenn Shepherd, her parents, Bob and Mary Defreyne, as well as her siblings. 

Twitter: @BarbSweetTweets


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