Spotlight: Tej Sandhu
MERIT Brewing opened in 2017 when three close friends with shared values came together to craft beer with a mission – to build community and connections. Just 6 years into their business, this ambitious trio has created a welcoming space in Hamilton, Ontario and they are using the power of their beer to bring community members together. According to Tej, “we are all driving this business with the same purpose – connectivity”.
Tej and his team have proven their commitment to community by preparing meals for their local women’s shelter, partnering with organizations supporting newcomers, supporting the LBGTQ+ community, advocating for social justice and taking part in youth mentorship programs.
“Driving with the same purpose – connectivity”
Tej Sandhu has always been a creative person – this is evident in his approach to business. Prior to opening MERIT, his entrepreneurial pursuits were focused on the music business in Toronto and New York. During this time, he saw small and community focused breweries thriving and recognized an opportunity to create something similar in Hamilton where Tej, along with Aaron, spent their post-secondary years in school. Tej had a hunch that, along with his partners, they could create a hub for craft, conversation and creativity. Wanting to know where this sense of purpose came from, we asked Tej about his upbringing, and we quickly learned that his family and his Punjabi heritage instilled in him an incredible amount of empathy and drive to help others.
MERIT Brewing is named after Tej’s Grandparent’s furniture store, which was based in Nanaimo, BC. According to Tej, his grandparents, Chanan and Charan, “ended up with 22 stores but didn’t care about selling furniture.” In fact, Tej’s family expanded their business in the BC Punjabi community for the purpose of providing jobs, training and stability for new Canadians. Tej’s father Paul recalls with fondness his memories of newly relocated families staying in their home, and attributes his commitment to connection to his early years. And tapping into his creative side, Tej sees “cooking as the biggest way to connect to family and people”.
Creative Beer & Food:
The great work Tej and his team do wouldn’t be possible without great beer. According to Tej, “we are inspired by tradition but like breaking the rules”. Brewer Aaron Spinney is not afraid to push the boundaries with flavor and aroma, but he also knows when to show restraint. MERIT’s lineup of beers often include something made with fruit, spice or tea. Tej and his team always have an interesting variety of beer on tap, from fruited sour and IPA, to a clean crisp Lager. That creativity extends to their food with items like in-house made sausages, including “butter chicken” sausage with Tikka Masala.
There are a lot of reasons to visit and support MERIT Brewing. Thanks to Tej and his team for helping to build a more inclusive craft beer community.