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We’ve noted recently on our Facebook page the release of Rockford Brewing Company’s (Michigan) first beers to the public.

They “launched” this past Wednesday, which happens to be the “biggest bar night of the year,” also known as the “Night before Thanksgiving.” While their official opening date isn’t until December 20th, this did provide the public with their first opportunity to sample the brewery’s product and get a taste of what was to come. Their RBC Public House doors were open, selling swag and handing out pub crawl beer lists and they partnered with 6 of the 8 establishments in downtown Rockford, each of whom poured a single brew:

Red’s on the River – Hoplust IPA (American IPA)
Rogue River Tavern – White Pine Wheat (Bavarian Style Hefeweizen)
Grill 111 – Rogue River Brown (Brown Ale)
Corner Bar – Carriage House Ale (American Ale/ESB)
Sam’s Joint – O’Briens Red (Amber Ale)
Rockford Lanes – Sheehan’s Stout (Irish Style Stout)

Now Rockford, Michigan (pop. 7,000), for those who don’t know – and that likely includes most of you – is a relatively small town, located just northeast of Grand Rapids. There’s a handful of restaurants in their “historic” downtown square, which covers about 2 blocks, and they don’t really have much of a nightlife as most “entertainment” activity takes place in the much larger downtown Grand Rapids. Suspicious that the few establishments in town would not be prepared for any sort of volume, I headed into town about 4:30 to get a few samples in early. I made four stops by about 6 p.m. In each locale I inquired as to whether they were “ready” for tonight, and was assured they were because they’ve “had pub crawls before.”

They weren’t.

RBC had done a nice job getting the word out online, and my fears were confirmed as craft beer fans invaded the downtown bars in addition to the typical homecoming locals who were out and about. After my driver made a quick pickup to recruit a few friends, we were back in Rockford about 8 p.m. and met with lines at every location – some up to an hour – and scrambling distributors rushing to replace kegs. Also, several location kept “regular” Wednesday hours, which meant that they rolled up the carpet about 10 p.m. – which left IPA & stout fans in particular wanting for more as those places were shuttered by then. We did manage to have at least a pint of each beer by the end of the evening, but the last couple were obviously a more challenging procurement than my early evening tour.

All that said, it was a good event and the RBC crew did a nice job of milling about lending greetings, seeking feedback and accepting comments from the masses. Their brews were very impressive in the humble opinion of our crew. Each of the six was clean, fit their profile and were both flavorful and balanced. Of course, we’ll have some actual reviews in the future, but this was a great celebration and collaboration for the brewery and local watering holes to welcome each other to town. Congratulations to RBC and their entire crew on an outstanding sneak peek!

With several new openings in the area over the past two months, including Perrin, Our Brewing Company, and The Mitten. We’re already looking forward to December 5th & 20th, as both RBC and the “new” Grand Rapids Brewing Company are supposed to open before the end of the year.

I’m getting thirsty.