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Brewery rising to meet city's untapped thirst

Cathy Dobson Just four months after its launch The Refined Fool Brewing Co is doubling in size, evidence that Sarnians have a thirst for local brewed craft beer.
The Refined Fool Brewing Company is expanding after only four months. At left is new bar manager Mike Cole and brewer Matt Barnes. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Just four months after its launch The Refined Fool Brewing Co is doubling in size, evidence that Sarnians have a thirst for local brewed craft beer.

“We’re on batch 52 since opening in May, so that means we’ve made 20,000 litres of beer so far,” said Matt Barnes, one of 10 friends who formed the partnership behind the brewery.

Barnes has traded in substitute teaching for becoming a brewer at Refined Fool. And he’s not the only new employee. A bar manager and sales person have also been added this summer.

When the brewery opened downtown the investors believed sales would be limited to their own location at 137 Davis St.

But the restaurants The Front Door and Paddy Flaherty’s are already offering Refined Fool beer on tap and negotiations are underway with a third.

Meanwhile, sales at the store have taken off and the group of 10 – all young male professionals in their 20s and 30s – are hurriedly renovating to meet demand.

“We said we wanted to make good beer first, then expand slowly, but it’s been a whirlwind,” said Barnes.

“We’ve been doing non-stop brewing. It’s a good problem to have.”

The retail area’s large window has been replaced with a 12-foot window that rolls up, allowing customers to sip 12-oz pints or samplers from a bar stool looking out to the street.

The volume of foot traffic jumped immediately and demand kept right on growing, said Barnes.

Now the guys are doubling the size of the brewery and have a barrel system on order that will double output.

They’ve leased twice the space they had and are doing a major renovation of the retail/bar area. A by-the-glass liquor licence allows Refined Fool to serve single, 12-ounce pints and stay open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, closing time is 5 p.m.

“We’ve been so well received, it’s crazy,” said Barnes.  “We’ve leased the whole main floor now and we’re going to make the front area more inviting.”


A new store opened this week at 464 Christina St. North offering an eclectic array of items that range from estate jewelry to classic books.

Sarnia’s Peter Degraaf is owner of Collectors Haven in the Keelan’s Plaza.

He spent several decades in Ottawa where he owned four similar shops, he said. When he moved to Sarnia in 1995, he opted to attend antique shows instead where he bought and sold collector items.

Now Degraaf is ready to set up shop again. Collectors Haven will be open Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. to buy, sell and trade estate jewelry, coins and books.


Small business owners have an opportunity to learn about succession planning at an evening seminar Sept. 18.

Paul Tyers, a certified planner, chartered accountant and chartered investment manager with Wealth Stewards Inc. will facilitate discussion from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Best Western Guildwood Inn.

Presented by the Certified General Accountants of Ontario and Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.  For details, contact the Chamber at 519-336-2400 or

Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.

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