Sandwich Brewing Co. has come along just in time. The long awaited brewery in Windsor’s west end neighborhood of Sandwich Town has entered a crowded brewing scene with style, maturity and delicious beer.
The expansion of craft brewing in Windsor and Essex County has left, those who love craft beer, with some pretty lofty expectations. Sandwich Brewing however, has made a statement with their opening last week. They may have been a little late to the party, but they sure are ready to be the life of it.
Upon entering Sandwich Brewing Co., there is a palpable sense of the care that has been put into little details all over the pub. A melding of industrial aesthetics, warm wood, a patterned tin ceiling and small love letters to Sandwich Town in the decor, give the relatively small tasting room a sense of intimacy and place. While behind the wood topped bar the brewing process front and center with stainless steel fermenting tanks and flourishes of activity from the brewing staff.
Sitting at the bar with a bowl of popcorn and a flight made my American Thanksgiving morning. The first sample in the flight was of there “Stepping Stone” a Canadian Pale Ale. This bright and easy drinker succeeds where many session pale ales fail. It’s approachable, the hops are tamed and put to work in the background giving this 3.6% drinker hints of citrus and florals without the bitterness one would come to expect from the pale ale family.
As I finished my first sample I was pleasantly surprised when Bryan Datoc owner of Craft Heads Brewing Co pulled up a stool beside me, just as I dug into the Ruby Sue, a Canadian Dark Mild ale. A malty but well balanced red and brown hued ale with a spicy english hop profile which had been mentioned as an early crowd favourite. Bryan and I chatted and joked with head brewer Scott Black as he hustled behind the bar in the brewery. The Windsor Brewing community is tight, but when it’s over a morning pint you see that these guys aren’t just respectful but they are rooting for each other. An attitude I would love to bottle and force feed to the rest of the city.
The third beer in my flight was my favorite, a nitrogen tapped version of their “South of The Border Porter.” This ultra-complex dark ale brings a lot to the party. Notes of bittersweet chocolate are obvious but as you take your first sip, but as you drink porty notes of almond, dried fruits and fig rise up through the bitterness. If you like dark beer or even want to like dark beer, try this one. It would especially go great with the Beautiful Brie board from the Sandwich Brewing Co simple but crowd pleasing menu of cheese and charcuterie.
I finished my flight with the biggest and most robust beer on their taps, that day. The Big Investment Double IPA. This is not a beer for those who are afraid of bitterness. With 7.2% alcohol and a hefty but not crazy 61 IBU the Big Investment is a well balanced IPA that skews more towards a west coast style IPA. Notes of citrus and pine bitterness are balanced by a strong malty backbone which makes this beer much easier drinking than I had expected.
Overall my first impression of Sandwich Brewing Co. is one of great admiration. I admire that in an industry where it seems most of the players are building the tracks in front of a moving train, Sandwich Brewing seemed to know where they were going. I admire that in a very respectful manner Sandwich Brewing Co. just raised the bar for everyone brewing beer in the region. Finally I admire that Sandwich Brewing Co. did all of this in a neighbourhood that needed something like this, Sandwich Town is better for this new destination and so is our city.