Doors open Friday at Imperial City Brew House, Sarnia’s newest craft brewery.
Partners Craig Brodie, Kyle Blandford, Matt Whitney and Mike Barker spend two years planning, filling out paperwork and turning the former XS Cargo store at 1330 Exmouth St. into a brewery and tap room, and then held a few “soft openings” for family and friends before Friday’s opening day.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” Brodie said.
Hours will be Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., with four Imperial City beers – a light lager, a Canadian pale ale, an Irish stout and a Bohemian pilsner – on tap and in cans.
“We have two more bubbling up,” Brodie said about a hazy New England IPA and a cream ale with vanilla expected to be available soon.
“These are all our first batches, and we’re really proud they turned out the way they did,” he said.
A grand opening is planned for Feb. 8.
“After that weekend, we’re going to look at possibly adjusting the hours and opening on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Brodie said. “We usually save the other days for production. There’s a lot to do behind the scenes so everybody can drink delicious beer.”
The partners, with help behind the bar from family and friends, currently handle duties at Imperial City while also working day jobs, but said they’re close to the point of hiring staff.
“We’re very happy with the space,” Blandford said.
Whitney said the opportunity to “get this space” and build their brewery was “beyond a dream.”
The open concept and industrial-style tap room has seating for 220. Six tall metal tanks line one of the walls where patrons can watch the work going on at the 20-barrel brew house.
“Hopefully, it looks like a lot of work went into this because it certainly did,” Brodie said.
Construction took approximately eight months.
“Everything in here is new,” Brodie said. “All new HVAC, all new electrical, all new plumbing.”
The partners were home brewers and spent time visiting other brew houses around Southwestern Ontario, asking lots of questions while gathering research for Imperial City.
“All that information has led to the design of this building and what we feel is just more than we ever could have imagined,” Brodie said.
Blandford said they want the tap room to be a community meeting place where people can “come down and have a conversation and stay a while.”
They also want to offer visitors to the community another good local craft brewery to try.
“We want to draw people into Sarnia-Lambton and show them what we’re made of,” Whitney said.
“We’re pumped to finally share the product, and share the hard work,” Blandford said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the space, and the beer that is going to be served here.”