As TJs moves to a more suitable location, another growing business will be taking up residence at the London Road location. The Refined Fool Brewing Company has enjoyed an explosive rate of growth since it opened at its current 2,600-square-foot Davis Street operation in May, 2014, and Nathan Colquhoun, one of the company’s four directors, says the London Road site will offer further opportunities for expansion.
“The London Road location is awesome,” he said. “It is ten times bigger than this one; the upstairs area will be used for storage and offices, the main floor will be for production, and the front will serve as the tap room and sales area.” There will also be a broader selection of food choices for patrons to enjoy. He added that the Davis Street operation will remain open to serve its downtown clientele.
The move was deemed necessary by the company’s four directors: Tony Alexander, Brandon Huybers, Nathan Colquhoun and Matthew Barnes. The overwhelmingly positive reception to the company’s offering of various beer styles made for constant over-crowding of the tiny tap room and a logistic nightmare when it came to actual beer production. “Our current space is at maximum capacity and we look forward to being able to meet the new demands with the new location,” said Mr. Colquhoun.
Currently, Refined Fool products are being distributed through the LCBO all the way to Ottawa as well as in grocery stores throughout Ontario and outlets in Michigan. In addition, supplies are being stored at several locations in Sarnia and there is a total of 20 employees working within the confines of the tiny microbrewery space. “It’s been cramped in the last year,” said Mr. Colquhoun.
The opportunity to lease the TJs property presented itself through a happy coincidence. “Our mutual real estate agent made the connection for us,” said Mr. Colquhoun. The directors knew the TJs property was a perfect platform upon which to consolidate their company’s assets and facilitate its future growth. “We’re really excited about the move. We get the key on August first and it will take about three to four months to renovate,” he added. “We hope to be open before the Christmas season.”
Refined Fool was the brainchild of its four directors. “We’re all craft beer drinkers and we used to have to drive into Michigan to get it,” said Mr. Colquhoun. “We got some support from friends and family, went through about a year of administration, including government licensing, researched and built our own equipment, and took tours of other breweries.”
Brew master Mike Wayne, a chemist who learned the finer points of brewing working for two large American breweries and has 20 years of experienced in the field, was brought on board to help the partners develop all of the beer styles they offer today. “We have now brewed over 100 different styles of beer,” said Mr. Colquhoun. “We started with six but are constantly pushing creative boundaries and exploring different ones.” Currently, a number of great brews are being marketed, including the popular Troll Toll cream ale, a vanilla porter called Ripsnorter, a British golden ale called Quiet Down: I’m Doing Cartography, and the newest brew, Canatara!, a German style, wheat-based ale known as a Berliner Weisse.
Mr. Colquhoun says the company’s success has been largely due to the great support it has received from its local clientele and the customer loyalty that has allowed the company to thrive. “Sarnia has been the most supportive community,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better city.”