By CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
“It was a short 2-month courtship and a marriage made in heaven,” said Rockford resident Brien Dews in speaking about a recently formed partnership with two other Rockford residents, all three having a dream of opening a microbrewery in downtown Rockford specializing in craft beers. Microbreweries have been a growth industry throughout the economic downturn of the past decade and craft brew beers lovers are legion. The partnership believes that a microbrewery in Rockford would be a perfect addition to the destination shopping and fine dining opportunities already available in Rockford. It is possibly the missing link!
Dews is best known as Rockford’s Mayor Pro-Tem along with being an AWCI 21st Century Certified Clockmaker who owns and operates Rockford’s All Good Time Clock Service. For the past 7 years Brien has had a passion for his crafting of home brewed beer.
Partner Jeff Sheehan has a decade of home brewing experience and for the past 5 years has been employed by the New Holland Brew Pub, in Holland, MI where he developed and tested new brews.
Partner Seth Rivard has also been a home brewer of beer for 5 years and for the past 13 years has been employed by Alcoa Howmet in Whitehall, MI in the area of information technology (IT). In addition, Seth brings a degree in Business Administration to the table.
Recently the trio entered into a purchase agreement with the owner of the property located at 12 E. Bridge St. (Directly across the street from the Rockford Historical Museum on the southwest corner of Bridge St. and the White Pine Trail.)
The two-story space has approximately 1650 sq. ft. on each level. The second floor level has breath-taking and commanding views in all four directions. Rockford’s iconic Rogue River Dam is highly visible as is the river above the dam. The America’s Favorite Farm Market venue is a glance away. Michigan’s longest linear state park,The White Pine Trail, runs adjacent to the property. From its upstairs windows one can take in many of the popular seasonal Rockford events such as the Annual Ice Festival, the summer Huntington Rogue River Blues Series, the Start of Summer carnival festivities, Mitchell’s Run, and the Holiday Lighting Ceremony, to name some of many. Not to be forgotten is a spectacular view of the award-winning Peppler Memorial Park and the sport fishing and canoeing/kayaking mecca of the Rogue River.
All of the above plus the freshest craft-brewed beer any beer lover could ever hope for will be locally available for the very first time in Rockford when Rockford Brewing Company opens its doors for business next Spring – 2012.
Initially, Rockford Brewing Company will have the capacity to produce 700 barrels per year. At opening the microbrewery will have 4 to 5 mainstay styles of beer available on tap, most certainly an IPA, a stout, a wheat, a sweet, and probably a French Farmhouse/Country Ale. More styles will be developed and made available as demand increases. Beers will only be available on tap for in-house consumption or to be carried home in tap filled and cap sealed 64 oz. glass jugs commonly known as “growlers”. At home, the beer will stay good for 2 to 5 days once opened. Purchased and consumed either way, it is the fresh taste that keeps people coming back again and again.
“For non-beer drinkers Rockford Brewing Company will also have cider, wines (house red and/or white), sodas, and possibly mead,” said Seth.
“The environment is a huge part of our plan. Rockford Brewing Company will be a family friendly place where children are welcome. It will be a place to meet and kick back and relax after enjoying all of the outdoor activities Rockford has to offer,” said Brien, adding, “It will be a community gathering place for people to enjoy one another’s company.”
Jeff, who will be the designated Brew-Master, tells us that, “It will be a fun place to hang out, a place of stimulating conversation, and a happy escape from everyday routines.”
All three of the partners are wildly enthusiastic about the planned interior décor. Rockford Brewing Company will be warm and inviting with a northern Michigan rustic lodge timber framed interior with wood wall paneling and flooring.
Patrons will enter the microbrewery through a timbered entranceway off the White Pine Trail. A second entrance from the parking lot on the west side of the building is planned. The main floor level will feature a large hand-crafted wooden 10-tap bar seating 18 along with tables of eight, seating another 32. Highlighted will be the heart of the brewery – a highly visible, glass enclosed, brewing area.
Nowhere will the “rustic lodge look” be more apparent than in the spacious and inviting upstairs gathering level. With cathedral ceilings and large windows looking out on all that Rockford has to offer, the second floor level will have additional seating another 125 patrons.
Prior to opening, as a tie to the local community, Rockford Brewing Company is making available a limited number of “Mug Club Memberships”. A 2-year membership includes the following:
Etched 16 oz. pint mug with an exclusive Rockford Brewing Company logo along with your engraved name and limited edition membership number.
$1 off pints, Everyday
$2 off pints, Tuesday
$3 off Growler fills
15% off merchandise (t-shirts, caps, etc)
Special mug-club only Events
Each 2-year membership is priced at $123.00. For a limited time only, pre-opening memberships are exclusively available to Squire readers. Membership information is available at: www.rockfordbrewing.com. Supplies are limited to 175 mugs.
A Mug Club Membership would be a great Christmas gift for the craft beer lover on your list. (Cliff has already told Nancy that Santa better leave one of the exclusive membership certificates in his Christmas stocking!)
Rockford Brewing Company promises to be a place reminiscent of the neighborhood pub depicted in the popular old TV-sitcom “Cheers” – a place where everyone knows your name and you know theirs.