Rockford Brewing Company promises to be worth the wait

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

Standing behind an imaginary main floor glass window that will soon reveal the gleaming stainless steel workings of Rockford Brewing Company’s “Brew House” are brewery partners (L to R) Jeff Sheehan, Brien Dews, and Seth Rivard. The devils in the details and each and every day the partners go over a punch list of “to-do’s”. Photo by CLIFF HILL

Everywhere we travel in West Michigan we are met with the question, “When is Rockford Brewing Company (RBC) going to open its doors?” The buzz of anticipation in the greater Grand Rapids area for RBC’s opening is absolutely amazing.

Here’s the “scoop” directly from RBC’s Brewmaster Jeff Sheehan’s mouth. “Taking an empty shell of a building and creating a world class microbrewery is no easy task. Each and every day we are aggressively working towards an anticipated opening of late summer of this year. My partners (Brien Dews and Seth Rivard) and I are committed to getting it absolutely right. If we have to suffer through the inevitable delays in construction, equipment manufacture and delivery, and licensing then so be it. It’ll all be worth it on opening day.”

It can’t be soon enough for the legions of beer lovers who can’t seem to get enough of craft brews. RBC is destined one day to join the heady ranks the likes of Founders Brewing, HopCat, Brewery Vivant, and Schmohz Brewing.

Located as it is in northern Kent County, in the very center of beautiful downtown Rockford, RBC has just what the old adage “location, location, location” suggests. With the State’s longest linear State Park, the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, on one side and one of the State’s premier trout and salmon rivers, the Rogue River, on the other side exposure will not be a problem.

It only seems inevitable that RBC will become a destination “watering hole” of choice for the thousands of trail users, especially cyclists, that traverse the trail daily spring through fall.

RBC will offer up many one-off’s and experimental brews along with mainstays and seasonals. German-style lagers as well as the more traditional styles of ale will be available. Not a beer drinker – not a problem. Michigan wines, ciders, meads, and soft drinks will also be offered. Hungry? Artisan sandwiches will be served up from Rockford’s premier gourmet deli – Poindexter’s Specialty Marketplace, a next-door tenant in the RBC building.

As this article goes to press, the interior build-out of the brewery is well under way under the skillful hands of two of Rockford’s foremost builders, Solomon Homes and Thornapple Timber Frame. Located in the two story RBC building, the brewery will feature a rustic northwoods/Bavarian theme with the warmth of wood and timbers. The main level will include a 12-tap bar in what will be known as the “Public House” that will also feature a huge window looking into the heart and soul of the brewery – the “Brew House”. Looking through this viewing window from the “Public House” one will be able to observe the brewmaster at work amidst gleaming stainless steel tanks, piping, and machinery. In other words, you’ll get an up close and personal education along with your libation of choice.

The upper level will feature a warm and casual relaxed atmosphere with an additional 6-tap bar. There is always something happening in Rockford and views, both upstairs and down, from the large exterior windows of the brewery promise to be outstanding.

Upon opening and after reaching full production, the RBC partners tell us they plan to work in a close symbiotic relationship with other fine local restaurants and drinking establishments, many of which are already seeking to get on board to serve up selections from the extensive menu of RBC’s craft beers.

By the way, previously offered Mug Club memberships are sold-out but you are welcome to add your name to a waiting list for a possible future expansion.

Watch your hometown newspaper, the Rockford Squire, for an announcement of the date of the much-anticipated opening of Rockford Brewing Company. Meanwhile, RBC is accepting online resumes for service staff and bartenders at: www.employment@rockfordbrewing.com

Everyone can keep abreast of RBC’s construction progress and related news and events by going to: www.rockfordbrewing.com. Or simply take a “field trip” to the southwest corner of Bridge St. and the White Pine Trail in the heart of downtown Rockford. Located at 12 E. Bridge St., RBC is directly behind Poindexter’s Specialty Marketplace. Like “sidewalk superintendents” you can see for yourself just what’s going on through the brewery’s lower-level windows.

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