Five-generation farm opens craft brewery in Amherstburg

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Windsor Star/Mary Caton


The idea of establishing a farm-based craft brewery started fermenting in the garage of Dwayne Grondin a couple of years ago.

Dwayne and his brother Greg liked to experiment with different beer recipes. Along with their wives, Jen and Cathy respectively, they gathered Friday night to tweak and test various concoctions.

After a year of their weekly garage sessions, the conversation about starting a craft brewery turned serious.

GL Heritage Brewing Co. opened in mid-July on an Amherstburg farm that’s been in the family for 167 years.

“We’re the only farm-based brewery from here to Norfolk County,” Greg said. “There’s no one else who brews and sells on the farm.”

Five of the 15 acres are now dedicated to growing barley and the production warehouse and tasting room sit on part of a former bean field at 8728 Howard Ave.

“Our location is ideal,” Greg said, noting its proximity to nearby wineries and Wolfhead Distillery.

The facility features a covered outdoor patio and offers food through a rotation of local food trucks.

Since all four partners have Monday through Friday jobs, the brewery opens on Saturday and Sunday only from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., although discussion has started on adding Friday nights to the mix.

The most popular blend to date is a blonde ale known as Back Shop Brew. They also sell a lager, a stout and a rye ale. All four are available at a dozen bar and restaurants in Essex County and also for carry out sales at the brewery. 

Just this past weekend, the owners launched their fifth product, an apple ale infused with apple carmel whisky from their distilling neighbours up the road at Wolfhead.

“It‘s a hit,” Greg said. “We were looking for something as a fall, Christmas theme and we wanted to veer away from the pumpkin theme that others have done.”

The brewery’s name GL Heritage is a nod to Greg and Dwayne’s father Don Grondin and his business partner Paul Lepine who once ran GL Heritage Motors, now Heritage Tire, in Amherstburg.

Around the same time as the brewery launched, Don was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Eager to do something positive in the face of such daunting news, the Grondins reached out to another business born in a house garage, The Garage Gym, owned by Dani and Tony Smith.

With sponsorship from Greg’s other business venture, Morton Industrial, along with Integrity Tool and Mould, they have organized a Row Against Cancer team rowathon at the brewery Nov. 18. Participants are asked for a minimum $50 fundraising pledge with all proceeds going to the Windsor Cancer Clinic.

Each team will be pulling for a total of 42,195 metres which is the equivalent of a rowing marathon.

“The team captains will divvy up the work,” Tony Smith said.

Registration will be at 11 a.m. on Nov. 18 with rowing starting at 12 noon. There will be raffle prizes, food and entertainment afterwards.

Smith plans to push the bar stools aside and have 10 machines available that day. Pledge sheets are available at The Garage Gym on Sandwich St. and at G.L. Heritage.

Further information is available at The Garage Gym’s Facebook page.