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Montclair Brewery: A Place of Community + Delicious Beer

by Taylor Duncan
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Building a stronger community, one beer at a time. That is the mission of Montclair Brewery — a microbrewery located right in the heart of Montclair. From the moment you enter the brewery, you’ll feel a sense of community and passion for local life. While you can find Montclair Brewery’s beers at many local distributors, this tasting room is a must-visit in Montclair. Keep reading to learn more about this Montclair gem, located at 101 Walnut Street, and the way Montclair Brewery became a go-to for craft brews in the area.

Montclair Brewery

Meet the Owners

Run by a husband and wife duo, Denise Ford Sawadogo and Leopold ‘Leo’ Sawadogo have turned their passion for brewing into a wildly successful business. Denise is originally from New York (grew up in Freeport, Long Island – after moving from Brooklyn right before middle school).

The Ivy at Chatham

Montclair Brewery

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Her husband, Leo, is from Ouagadougou (pronounced Waga Doo Goo), which is the capital of Burkina Faso — a French-speaking country in West Africa. But Denise and Leo have now called Montclair home for 15 years.

How Montclair Brewery Came To Be

Founded on paper in 2014, Montclair Brewery officially opened for business in 2018. For over 20 years, Leo has been brewing batches of beer in his home and gifting bottles to friends and family. 

Montclair Brewery

“Leo has always wanted to start a business in the US, similar to what he had in his home country,” Denise said of her husband’s vision. “He is an avid cook, trained pastry chef, and has always been passionate about making beer, especially after seeing his mom make traditional beer as a child in Burkina Faso,” Denise added.

As for Denise, she’s always had desires to own her own business and develop a brand on her own terms. Prior to starting this venture with her husband, Denise received her MBA and worked in marketing in the corporate sector.

The Beers

Montclair Brewery

No matter when you visit, there are always new beers on tap for you to try at Montclair Brewery — like the Baobiere Golden Ale, which is actually brewed with baobab fruit. The brewery earned a silver medal in the NY International Beer Competition for this specific brew — so we recommend trying it if it’s on tap. During Women’s History Month, Montclair Brewery had a special beer to honor the late U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

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Some other fan favorites include the National Emergency IPA, as well as the Golden Buddha Passion Fruit Ale. For the warm weather vibes, Fragile Like a Bomb is a floral summer ale brewed with a lavender aroma. The full tap list can be found here, but you really can’t go wrong with any beer you choose.

Impacts of COVID-19

Montclair Brewery

Like many food and beverage spots in the area, the pandemic forced Montclair Brewery to adapt to the new restrictions and introduce new aspects of the business. During the pandemic, the team added an online sales function to their website, introduced home deliveries, and quickly ramped up their packaged beer inventory during the past year.

Meanwhile, when you visit Montclair Brewery, you may notice the fun outdoor space behind the tasting room. This outdoor beer garden was actually a product of the pandemic. With restrictions in place on how many people could visit the brewery, Denise, Leo, and the team had to get creative. And this included creating an outdoor space for visitors. The space is definitely one to check out this September — as both the outside and inside of Montclair Brewery radiate great vibes, a sense of community, and tasty beers.

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