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Midland's much-anticipated Test Batches Brewery now open

'We are a brewery first but we have yummy food, a space where you can come and meet a friend, have a flight,' said co-owner Lesley Tripp

It didn't take long for customers to walk through the door of the brand new Test Batches Brewery in Midland.

That's because owners Jamie and Lesley Tripp are well known in the community, having run Tripp's Paint shop for 27 years in downtown Midland. From the 476 Hugel Ave. brewery site, they can see into the back door of their old paint shop.

Test Batches Brewery had a soft opening Sept. 19.

"It was incredibly busy," said Lesley, who said the support was almost instant.

"We have wonderful social equity in this community which is why we stayed and endured to make this happen" rather than retire, Lesley said. "We believe in the community."

The craft brewery/restaurant/retail store has drawn lots of interest already, she said.

"We've put into this all the things that we like about any brewery we've every been to and made it our own," Lesley said. "We want to make this a special community space. We want to work with charities. It's the philanthropic part of it that's important."

For Lesley's 60th birthday last week, they had a big party in the building and raised money for the Georgian Bay Food Network.

Their business model is counter service, not table service. All the prices include tax and there is no tipping.

"We pay our staff more than the local living wage," said Lesley. "We believe all our staff are equal."

The craft brewery opened with two of their own beers on tap. It was brewed off site but brewing is starting on site this week. The goal is to build up to 12 of their own beers on tap. Test Batches also sell Grain & Grit Beer Co. beer and Heritage Estates cider. Wine is available.

Non-alcoholic beverages include homemade fruit and fizzes, tea and coffee.

The retail section includes fridges which sell beer by the $5 can and chocolates in $5 treat bundles.

Lesley has been making chocolates for the past 40 years. This is the first time she's doing in from a retail standpoint, using staff to make a wide variety of chocolates including chocolate-covered sponge toffee and licorice.

Merchandise also includes glasses, bags, T-shirts, hoodies and more.

There's also a menu of chef-created foods appealing to meatetarians, vegetarians and vegans such as a shareable board with a selection of meats and cheeses, classic soup and grilled cheese and roasted veg panini.

Wednesdays and Thursdays are barbecue days with an assortment of smoked or barbecued food from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. or until the food is gone.

"We are a brewery first but we have yummy food, a space where you can come and meet a friend, have a flight," said Lesley.

Test Batches opened with 21 full- and part-time staff. Carol Paznar is the chef and Alex Dunning is the head brewer.

The Tripps have endeavoured to source food locally. All the meat comes from Meatland and produce comes from Borsa, both Midland companies.

All the food is prepared in house, including the foccacia and panini and pretzel bites.

All five washrooms are unisex and feature local art work. 

The Tripps have also endeavoured to reduce garbage as much as possible. To that end, there is no take-out service or even take-out coffee.

Hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., beginning Oct. 15.

"We are not a late place. We are not a bar. We are a brewery."

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Gisele Winton Sarvis

About the Author: Gisele Winton Sarvis

Gisele Winton Sarvis is an award winning journalist and photographer who has focused on telling the stories of the people of Simcoe County for more than 25 years
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