Sons of Kent Brewing Co
27 Adelaide St. Chatham, ON
I grew up in Dresden Ontario, a small town only a short drive from the big city lights of Chatham. There wasn’t much in the way of entertainment in Dresden for kids, unless you consider throwing apples on the road to watch cars smush them fun. When you wanted to see a movie, you saw it in Chatham’s Cinema 6 theatre. Do you remember calling the movie theatre hotline to find out what was showing and when? We've come along way since then and so has the Cinema 6.
This was the theatre where I saw my first movie, and later the same place we got bounced for sneaking into Nicolas Cage flick 8mm. As teenagers, we'd cruise around downtown with my friends in their Mustangs and I in my VW Rabbit. The Cinema 6 parking lot was always the turn around meet up spot. The joint was full of great memories, but the best being the time my friends and I saw American Pie. Allow me to indulge in a flashback...
When we picked up our friend Pete, he was wearing a long winter coat and holding a 12 pack of Labatt Blue bottles. It was July. In the Cinema 6 parking lot Pete got to work pocketing all 12 bottles in that winter coat. After successfully breaching the crack team of ticket takers we took our seats near the back of the theatre. Thinking we were being sly, we coughed as we cracked the tops off the bottles and were feeling mighty smug to be tipping back beers in the movies. Pete being at least 6 Blues deep stood up to use the restroom. With empty bottles lined up under his seat, it only took knocking over one to send them all the toppling over like dominoes. In perfect timing the theatre went completely silent except for the loud and distinct sound of six glass bottles tumbling down slopped concrete floors, hitting what seemed like every metal chair leg on the way down. Pete, who now resembled a deer in headlights walks out of theatre, out of the building and never sets foot in Cinema 6 again.
Cinema 6 closed in 2011 when a shiny new Galaxy Cinema was built on the other side of Chatham. After which the building laid vacant for over 5 years until four guys came together to transform it into Chatham’s first craft brewery.
In 2015, a chance meeting in Vancouver between a young waylaid brewer and two craft brewery consultants with a small town connection led to Sons of Kent. Who are The Sons of Kent? We have brothers Doug and Alf Hunter and the brewing team of Tim Copeland and Colin Chrysler. The story goes that Colin was on his way to a new brewing gig in Micronesia when some documentation snags held him up in Vancouver. Colin filled his days visiting breweries and eventually stumbled upon the Hunter brothers. Realizing their small town connection and their shared desire to return home, ideas started brewing.
Cinema 6 was never a pretty theatre. It was a boring rectangular building bricked in all shades of brown. Sons of Kent has added some much needed personality with red paint, corrugated steel accents and wrap around patio for dimension.
As I entered, I sort of thought I'd be walking back into Cinema 6. In my mind I pictured the concession stand repurposed as the bar and the tacky movie star silhouette paintings hanging over the tables. But I quickly realized this was no longer Cinema 6, in fact it bore no resemblance to the movie theatre I remembered. This is a good thing, as you see, the inside of Cinema 6 was almost as boring as the outside.
The main taproom is open and bright with big windows that extend up to expand the patio. Polished concrete floors, concrete block walls and high exposed ceilings give the taproom a modern industrial feel. The main bar is live edge and we loved the windows above that offer a glimpse into the brewery.
There is a smaller secondary taproom with lower ceilings, bar height seating and access to the kitchen. A sort of overflow area that is still comfortable. Speaking of the kitchen, they do offer a number of menu items from snacks to sandwiches and bowls.
We arrived at open and were the first to be seated, it filled up very quickly which made capturing the space a little more challenging. As the taproom reached capacity, they were well staffed and didn't skip a beat. Overall the service was excellent and they even allowed us a look behind the curtain at the brewery.
Table markers of nearby town signs were a great touch. As much as I wanted the Dresden sign, I'd much rather drink by the bay in Erieau.
Enough with the nostalgia... what about the beer!
On the day we visited they had 10 beers on tap, most of which have been available in LCBOs. Luckily, there were two new brews for us to sample, the Don’t Panic Oatmeal Stout and our stand out of the day Earl, an English mild brewed with Earl Grey tea. I adore their 8-track IPA, it’s become a beer I regularly recommend to friends who ask for IPA suggestions. It never disappoints.
Their selection covers traditional and IPA styles, sours and the occasional barrel aged release. I have yet to have brew from Sons of Kent that I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with.
Flywheel Blonde – Bready floral aroma, crackery malt flavour with hints of citrus and an easy bitterness. Crisp dry finish.
Spirit Wolf Coffee Blonde – Bready roasted coffee aromas, on the sip its grassy with honey notes and a big kick of fresh roasted coffee, finishing dry.
Earl – Light floral and lavender aromas, biscuity body, lemon citrus with Earl Grey flavours shining throughout the sip. Excellent!
Don’t Panic Oatmeal Stout – Sweet dark chocolate nose, with roasty malts, bittersweet chocolate and a noticeable bitterness through out. Mouthfeel a bit thin but full flavoured.
Juice Box - Definitely a fan favourite with a bright pineapple and grapefruit nose. Juicy with pineapple, nectarine, a grapefruit notes matched with a solid floral pithy bitterness.
Thank you Sons of Kent for restoring a place of nostalgia, filling it full of what I love and allowing us to make new memories. The irony of now being encouraged to drink beer here is not lost on me, but do you think Pete can come back?
Stay positive and drink good beer.