Rockford soon to spill over with craft beer


Just arrived, direct from Portland, Oregon, are seven custom crafted stainless steel Rockford Brewing Company brew tanks. Photo by CLIFF HILL

Ladies and gentlemen, “whet” your whistles. The long awaited and much anticipated opening of Rockford’s signature microbrewery, Rockford Brewing Company (RBC), is close (or closer) at hand.

In recent weeks, a flurry of activity has been in evidence inside and out of the craft brewery. Seven, custom crafted to RBC’s specifications, stainless steel brewing tanks were recently delivered and installed inside the brewery’s Brew House room. Manufactured by Metalcraft Fabrication of Portland, Oregon, the tanks are everything and more of what brewmaster Jeff Sheehan hoped they would be. “I couldn’t be more satisfied with the support and quality of workmanship of this highly specialized company,” said Sheehan.

Local “human dead weights”, Kevin Groothuis of The Hex Shop and Nick Poindexter of Poindexter’s Specialty Market, counterbalance the heavy weight of a newly delivered Rockford Brewing Company brew tank. For Rockford merchants it’s all about helping one another. Photo by CLIFF HILL

The three partners, Jeff Sheehan, Brien Dews, and Seth Rivard, have been up to their elbows engaging in hands-on sweat equity to get the doors of the microbrewery open for business. On a recent visit your reporters even witnessed them with sledgehammer in hand physically breaking up an old White Pine Trailside concrete entrance walk. It’s not often one sees a poitician (Dews) doing hard manual labor. Way to go Brien!

Most recently RBC received their “brewer’s notice”, a federal license to produce beer. This notice was a missing piece of the puzzle to secure licensing from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. The partners are very hopeful that the state license will be granted in the very near future.

Six, of the seven, Rockford Brewing Company stainless steel brew tanks sit gleaming and highly visible through a viewing window inside the Brew House Room on the main level of Rockford’s downtown brewery. Photo by CLIFF HILL

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel (or beer if you will),” said Sheehan. “At the same time the closer the opening day gets the higher my stress and anxiety level. I just want to see this dream fulfilled and completed absolutely right and in a way that will make everyone, investors and patrons alike, PROUD of their hometown brewery.”

The three partners, again, invite everyone to join in the excitement by stopping in any time the trailside door is open to check out the progress inside. Or simply go to RBC’s website at: or

Brad Buchen, an independent contractor who at times works for the brew tank’s manufacturer, created this beautiful 16” diameter stainless steel rendition of Rockford Brewing Company’s logo. It will be prominently on display in the Public House of the brewery. Photo by CLIFF HILL

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