- 400 Water, Rochester, MI, 48307
- Overall User Rating:
- (4 ratings)
- 11:30 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Wed., 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Thu., 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat., noon--midnight Sun.
- Official Web Site:
Status: There’s nothing wrong with mainstream beer like Miller, Budweiser or Coors, but if you look for originality in your brews, Rochester Mills Beer Co. will give you that and more.
The Rochester brewpub, located two blocks east of Main Street, was founded by the Plesz family, the same folks who built Royal Oak Brewery and the Detroit Beer Co. It has been churning out craft beer since it opened in 1998, and in April, owner Mike Plesz opened a 48,000-square-foot production facility near Auburn Hills where they produce Cornerstone IPA, Rochester Red Ale and Milkshake Stout.
“Our beer is pouring in over 200 tap panels across the state,” said marketing director David Youngman. “We’re really excited about the growth of the business.”
The majority of the beer is sold in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties. There are plans to distribute 16-ounce cans in stores later this fall.
Gear: Both the staff and the guests dress casually in jeans. The staff also wears Rochester Mills t-shirts and some wear baseball caps.
Mood: Light woods and metals merge to give Rochester Mills an industrial feel, which is appropriate since the space was a knitting mill before the brewpub opened.
“It’s very cool,” said Jeffrey Valley, who stopped by the bar for the first time last week. The 22-year-old Oakland University student was so impressed by his Milkshake Stout that he bought a growler of the beer to take home. “This is not your standard place to get a beer. If you’re into the whole process of how beer is made, you can see the whole process here. It’s like Krispy Kreme for beers.”
About a half dozen beer tanks stand like shiny steel guards behind a glass wall by a small stage. A step-by-step diagram shows how the beer is made. The staff receives training so they know the products. They also offer samplers and tastes of the different beers.
The single-level bar seats 420 people and there are spaces for pool tables, a raised dinning area, a stage, a lounge and a bar.
“I think we have something for everybody,” said Stewart McWilliams, Director of Operations. “You can come in and watch sports, listen to music, drink and eat.”
Families tend to clear out around 10 p.m., and the majority of the crowd that’s left is over 40. “There’re not a lot of young people in this area,” McWilliams explained.
Pick me up: Seasonal beers and Michigan guest taps are mixed in with about a dozen of Rochester Mills’ regular brews to create an ever-changing beer menu. Lazy Daze Lager, Water Street Wheat and Cornerstone IPA are a few of the cornerstone beers.
“The staples have pretty much always been the same,” said head brewer Forrest Knapp who has worked at the downtown Rochester venue for the last five years. While he has a hands-off approach to the principal beers, Knapp says he lets his creativity show with the seasonals, which currently include Raspberry Wheat and Czech Pilsner.
Though the beer is undoubtedly the star at Rochester Mills, the food menu isn’t something at which to thumb your nose. Lobster Mac N’ Cheese ($16.95), tacos (about $10.50), pastas (about $12), soups (about $5), sandwiches (about $10), pizzas (about $11) and appetizers offer a variety of choices for diners
In the nearly 15 years since Rochester Mills opened, “we haven’t changed from our mission of good food and good beer,” McWilliams proudly stated.
Entertainment: Drink specials will help give you the liquid courage you may need to test your skills during open mic night on Thursdays. Live bands, a majority of which are local, fill the brewpub Fridays and Saturdays starting at 10 p.m. There are also several televisions and pool tables.
This weekend Rochester Mills Beer Company will hold its 15th annual, two-day Autumn Festival with a ceremonial beer tapping 7 p.m. Thursday. There is a $5 donation, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan. The Remedy will perform Friday and Acoustic Brothers from Different Mothers will perform Saturday.
Last year, the Rochester bar went through 74 kegs of beer in the tents in two days.