Montclair is known for many things; an eclectic restaurant scene, a multitude of specialty shops, a thriving art scene. Now, the North Jersey town boasts its very own brewery. Montclair Brewery, the first of its kind in Montclair, can be found on Walnut Street. Currently open and ready to serve, their recent Grand Opening received a warm reception from the community.

To mark the occassion, Best of NJ spoke with general manager and owner Denise Ford-Sawadogo. She runs the brewery alongside husband and brewmaster Leo Sawadogo. Ford-Sawadogo gave us some insight into Montclair Brewery’s journey to opening day, their beer lineup and more.

Montclair Brewery in Essex County North Jersey

The first step towards bringing Montclair Brewery into existence was taken more than a decade ago; at this time, Sawadogo was homebrewing in the couple’s basement. Soon after, he was happily sharing his brews with friends and family, all while mastering his craft.

“He tells the story that, where he’s from in West Africa, it’s the women that brew. He grew up seeing his mother make beer, so he always had an interest and then when he came to the US he got into homebrewing and it just took off from there.”

It wasn’t long before the idea of opening up a brewery turned into something more serious. From the start, there was only one location the Sawadogo’s had in mind for their business.

“We’re residents of Montclair. We’ve lived here for the past 12 years, so it’s our home and we love it,” sayas Ford-Sawadogo. “Naturally when we were thinking of where to start a business, it had to be Montclair.”

Montclair Brewery in Essex County North Jersey

Four Years in the Making: Montclair Brewery

However, the road to opening day was not without a few bumps. It took four years, one location falling through and many setbacks to finally open their doors. The end result is a warehouse-style microbrewery set on one of Montclair’s most popular streets; particularly, Montclair Brewery is just steps from the train and a variety of delicious eateries.

And what are the community’s thoughts about the new business?

“People love it! Because we are family-friendly, people are bringing their kids; I think they’re having playdates in there, they bring their dogs. It’s very welcoming, very open,” Ford-Sawadogo explains.

Although there are non-alcoholic options available for the kids, the spotlight remains on the funky beers that will be in constant rotation on the menu.

Montclair Brewery in Essex County North Jersey

“The plan is to have a variety of beers. One of our goals is to bring new people into craft beer and we want to diversify it a bit and bring in people who would normally say, ‘Hey, I don’t drink beer.’”

In order to do this, the Sawadogo’s are leaning on their cultural backgrounds for inspiration. As a result, Montclair Brewery samples unique flavors and brings something different to the craft beer scene.

“We’ll have IPAs, we’ll have stouts; we’ll have a lot of the popular styles that will have our own unique twist on it. For example, one of the IPAs we’ll be doing is a rosemary IPA. We’re having a stout called the Kingston Porter, which kind of comes from the Caribbean.”

With a warm atmosphere and a flavorful list of robust brews, Montclair Brewery is a brand new destination for craft beer in North Jersey. Visit their website for more information.


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