New Leamington craft brewery to add to Windsor-Essex barrel trail

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Windsor Star/Sharon Hill


By late summer Leamington should have its first craft brewery and join more than a dozen breweries in Windsor-Essex.

Scott and Lisa Bradt, who run Bradt’s Butcher Block, are buying a nearby 108-year-old building for their Cured Craft Brewing Company.

“We own our craft butcher shop across the street and we are passionate about revitalizing the uptown of Leamington,” Lisa Bradt, who is also the chairwoman of the Leamington BIA, said Tuesday. “Since we are passionate about craft foods, why not craft beverages as well?”

Leamington put out a request for proposals in 2016 for the Mill Street building that is on its heritage list and originally was built in 1911 as an office and separate four-car garage for William T. Gregory.

Gregory came to Leamington around 1900 from North Carolina and introduced flue-cure tobacco to Canadian farmers which revolutionized the tobacco industry here. The town which had been dubbed the Tomato Capital of Canada once had both tomatoes and tobacco as big crops.

At first the Bradts wanted to put a bistro across the street but decided on a brewery with six to eight different craft beers, seasonal brews and some food. They are investing about $800,000 to buy the building from the town and do renovations and an addition before a late summer opening, she said.

The Cured Craft Brewing Company will add business to what Leamington calls its uptown and save one of the town’s heritage buildings that had sat vacant for years.

As a butcher Scott cures meats, as a nurse Lisa cures people and the history of the building is tied to flue-cure tobacco so they chose Cured Craft Brewing Company, she said. They started a Project Brewery — Leamington Facebook page to get ideas for names and will use some of them for craft beers.

“The Drunken Tomato was funny,” she said of one of the 100 suggestions.

Windsor-Essex could soon have at least 14 breweries.

Amherstburg is getting its first downtown craft brewery. Lot 10 Brewing Company at 263 Dalhousie Street hopes to be open by late April or early May and received approval earlier this month from Amherstburg council for a “by the glass” liquor licence.

When paired with Essex County’s wine route, no other region in Ontario offers as many craft breweries to go along with wineries to visit, Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, said Monday.

“The growing craft brew industry in the area is certainly gaining some strength and momentum and the more the merrier,” Orr said.

Both the Leamington and Amherstburg breweries plan to join a tourism barrel trail that celebrates the region’s whisky distilleries and breweries. The barrel, bottles and brews trail, a promotion that started in 2016 and business pay to join, includes 11 craft breweries along with Hiram Walker and Sons, the largest distillery in North America, and Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg.

Orr said it’s good to see more craft breweries popping up in the county to go with the ones already in the Windsor area. Craft beer is part of the local food trend in tourism where people want to try food and drinks from the region.

“Anytime you can promote something that’s made right here, that’s flavourful, that’s delicious, that’s unique, I think it helps separate you from going to another community and having sort of a cookie-cutter experience. That’s why people really enjoy it,” Orr said.

The barrel trail tourism promotion may not list every craft brewery in the region. In Windsor there’s Chapter Two Brewing Company, Brew Windsor Microbrewery, Motor Craft Ales, Craft Heads Brewing Co., Sandwich Brewing Co., and Walkerville Brewery.

There’s Frank Brewing Co. in Tecumseh, Lonsbery Farms Brewing Co. and GL Heritage Brewing Company outside Amherstburg, and a few in Kingsville: Banded Goose Brewing Co., the Grove Brew House and Kingsville Brewery. The Kingsville Brewery looks to be in development and didn’t respond to a request for more information at deadline.

There are 17 wineries in Essex County and Pelee Island that are promoted as the EPIC (Essex Pelee Island Coast) and Lake Erie North Shore wine route.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island also promotes a coffee trail.

Orr said about 4.5 million to five million visitors visit Windsor-Essex a year and leave an economic impact of about half a billion dollars.