Don't worry, there's beer and a strong sense of community at the end of the road

There's a hole in the ground where the hub of St. Anthony once stood. 

Before it was reduced to rubble, the foundation of Harriot Curtis Collegiate was salvaged to adorn Ragnarock Brewery, the province's latest offering for fresh local ales. 

"We went into the gymnasium and reclaimed a lot of the floor, and brought it over here and epoxied it and put it on our bar. It's a nice part of history for the town to keep," says co-owner and brew master Brad Simms. 

Growing up in the Northern Peninsula town of St. Anthony, Simms went to the school and wanted to honour it as the core of the community for many years. 

Meghan McCabe/CBC

"Everybody was stoked to see it being brought back to life rather than let it go away," said Simms.  

"I joked because I said I think I threw up on this table doing laps in school, so now I can sit [at] it and enjoy a beer and think about all those laps that I ran as a kid."

Community in the details

CBC News visited the brewery in November as Simms and wife and co-owner Jen Simms were getting ready to open with business partner Lauren Smithson.

"We're all friends, we love food, we love good beer," Jen Simms said.

With all that in mind, they figured, why not start a brewery in their town?

"We were avid homebrewers so we decided to share and go pro," her husband added.

Meghan McCabe/CBC

The five barrel brew house with five beers on tap is a labour of love, with chandeliers and tap handles crafted out of moose antlers by a local artist.

Much like children, neither could pick a favourite amongst their brews – but Jen Simms said she's really into their IPA. 

"I think one of my favourites is our Red Rover, it's a red Irish ale," said Brad Simms. 

Opening at the beginning of winter was strategic. 

"We didn't want to start in a peak tourism season, I guess, as strange as that's going to sound from a business perspective," said Brad Simms.

They wanted to smooth out the kinks before thousands of tourists come through the picturesque town of over 2,000 residents. 

Meghan McCabe/CBC

"The reason we wanted this business here was for our community. So why not trial it on our community first?" Jen Simms said.

Even though they know it's a challenging market, they see room for growth and a chance to attract beer enthusiasts to their neck of the woods.

"We've had interest from all over the world. People who probably wouldn't have even known St. Anthony existed without the help of following the craft brew scene," said Brad Simms. 

Stories in the walls

RagnaRöck is giving new life to a once busy spot in the centre of St. Anthony, renovating an old co-op store built back in the 1930s. 

"We actually found some cool receipts from back in the 40s, 50s and 60s," and old Newfoundland Gazette newspapers from the 1950s in the walls, said Brad Simms. 

Meghan McCabe/CBC

The brewery is rooted in the Norse heritage of the area as well, with the L'Anse aux Meadows Viking settlement nearby.  

"RagnaRöck is actually Ragnarök, which is Viking for the apocalypse, the end of the world. And the snake surrounds the earth, tail meets the head, and when he eats his tail and releases the oceans open up, the apocalypse begins."

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