PH3’s Craft Brewery Tour: Sanford Brewing Company
Brick lines the walk on historic Sanford Avenue where the neon green glow of Sanford Brewing Company (SBC) signage draws you into their bustling wood paneled taproom. Big glass garage doors look out onto a street with dogs galore. In the evenings and in cooler weather (looking at you 94° heat) they’ll slide the doors open to let the fresh air flow in. Still, we were happy to dip inside the brewery to escape the heat and enjoy some cold beers.
SBC has only been open since 2017, but it feels like a pillar of the community. The place and the people are incredibly welcoming. It makes sense why this brewery is a go-to for locals and a partner for local businesses. Sanford Brewing is the kind of place where shared ideas and stories come together over neighborly solidarity and great beer.
SBC is home to an easygoing atmosphere with plenty of tables and a live beer menu. Their menu isn’t the only live feature of the brewpub; SBC hosts live entertainment most nights including jazz nights, trivia, and open mic nights.
Sanford’s spirit is tied to their history with a unique twist on what’s to come. And nothing demonstrates this more than the storied past of the space itself. The SBC building itself dates all the way back to 1911—it actually served as a grocery store from 1924-1952.
Behind the Scenes with the Brewmaster
Brewmaster Allan Jackson was generous enough to give us a behind-the-scenes tour of the brewery after a full day of brewing to share the ins and outs of a brewery built to scale. But first, he poured himself a glass and said, “A hard day’s work ends with Flipa,” as he took a well-deserved sip of the hoppy, honey-sweetened IPA.
Allan worked as an engineer before making the transition to a full-time brewmaster. He shared how uniquely rewarding brewing is in comparison. “People have stopped me on the street to complement the work we do. When you put your sweat into something, you hope it makes a difference for someone.”
When it comes to brewing Allan maintains the same straightforward philosophy over the years as he did when he started brewing back in ‘83: “Keep it simple and make good beer. If your liquid’s good, you’ll get buzz.”
That mentality has fueled the flavor of the beer and has catapulted SBC to a Sanford mainstay for award-winning food and beer.
PH3 Top Brews
We were very thorough with our beer sampling this time around. Between the lot of us we tried every beer SBC brews. They’ve got great variety on draught, including a Celery IPA that refers to Sanford’s heyday as the “Celery Capital of the World”. We also really appreciated SBC’s attention to consistent branding for their wide-variety of beers all the way down to the coasters.
It should be known, all of SBC’s beer is good, but here are the few that made the cut for our top brews:
El Zocalo // Vienna Lager, 5.1% ABV
A traditional Mexican lager brewed from a blend of 5 specialty malts to create a smooth beer with subtle hops. El Zocalo translates into ‘city center’, and was named after and brewed for the Mexican restaurant next door in honor of Cinco De Mayo. Allan also admitted that this is his personal favorite.
Knockout Stout // Oatmeal Stout, 5.4% ABV
A nice roasted semi-sweet stout with a smooth cocoa finish. Don’t let the tough name intimidate you from going toe-to-toe with this beer. The punch that it packs is in flavor not bite and is much more mellow than the name would lead you to believe.
Top Hat // Extra Special - Strong Bitter, 5.2% ABV
Top Hat is a proper nod to the classic ESBs from across the pond. It’s got a sweet aroma that resembles molasses and honey, with fire roasted dark malt that provides a nice balanced finish. Top Hat especially struck a chord of nostalgia with our Social Media Manager, Kevin Greene. Each sip transported him back home to a London pub with his mates.
The Perfect Pretzel & Pub Food Redux
Sanford Brewing Company is home to the best giant pretzel the PH3 crew’s ever had. It’s flash fried to give it the slightest crisp on the outside but is still fluffy on the inside, and it’s served with their house-made beer cheese. They’ve also revolutionized the mac & cheese game with a Make Your Own Mac & Cheese. Additionally, expect a great selection of familiar gastropub staples that pair perfectly with SBC brews.