Brian Dews

Rockford soon to spill over with craft beer

August 23, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY 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. 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. “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

Rockford Brewing Company promises to be worth the wait

April 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY 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 […]

Rockford Brewing Company on tap for 2012

November 17, 2011 // 0 Comments

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 […]