As brewing industry grows, abandoned Wellington property transformed as brewpub
If ever there had been weather designed for sitting on a patio with a cold pint of beer, this past weekend was it. It was fortunate timing for Midtown Brewery, the latest of a stream of new breweries and brewpubs to open over the past year, and the first in Wellington.
The brewery and brewpub has transformed the old Midtown Meats factory into a warehouse-chic hangout that its new owners say will be open 364 days of the year— they only plan on closing for Christmas.
“We spent an awful lot of time looking for the spot,” says co-owner and self-titled good times coordinator Mark Andrewsky. “The first time we walked into the doors of this building we knew it was the place.”
That was 18 months ago. After over a year of construction and renovation, the place still needs a few additions, including a row of beer tanks that will grace the main room, before its grand opening. But is now open to the public for limited hours.
Paul Spike Lees, head brewer, along with Andrewsky, have embraced the County’s growing craft brewing community. So much so that Natalie Wollenberg, coowner of both 555 Brewing Company and the County Canteen, was one of their first customers. She arrived with Henry Willis of Humble Bread at 11:01 on Thursday morning. The doors opened at 11.
“The entire staff of Barley Days and County Canteen 555 were here,” says Andrewski. Lees interjected that Barley Days closed for the occasion. “It’s the beauty of being so small and so new is going through the same growing pains… it’s too small to be anything but communal and helpful. We’re all trying to convey the same message, and that message is let’s drink some good beer.”
Lees began learning to brew beer at the age of 14 because, he says, his dad wouldn’t let him come to the pub.
The self-taught brewer’s work has paid off. So far, the brewery only serves one of their own beers, a dark ale with a rich, chocolatey-coffee finish.
Midtown includes a restaurant and brewpub with beers and ciders from around the region, along with beers brewed onsite. There’s also a market attached that sells local goodies, including the products from vendors of a farmers’ market the brewery will host Wednesday evenings throughout the summer.
“A pub is a community centre,” says Lees in a British drawl. “That was the feel and the ambience that we have. It’s warm, it’s an extension of your front room, it’s a gathering place.”