Rochester Mills Beer Company
400 Water St
Visited on July 20, 2010
Rochester Beer Company is the closest brewpub to DTE Music Amphitheater, at least that I could find, and thus was my first stop before the first concert I ever attended there. I don’t recall much besides a big, old, beautifully restored brick building, but I must have liked it because the score is pretty high.
Rochester Beer Company is one of the few brewpubs within an acceptable distance from DTE Energy Music Amphitheater in Clarkston, so it was lucky enough to be visited by the Kings Brewpub Tour before turning around and heading to see Jack Johnson.
The restaurant and brewing equipment is located in one of those giant old brick buildings that I absolutely love. It gives the place real character while restoring a piece of a local community’s history. I believe this specific place was a knitting mill, as indicated by the sign above the door. The interior features high ceilings, tons of beautiful woodwork (rafters, floors, ceiling, tables, etc.), and has an entire back wall absolutely covered in giant windows.
The center third strip of the behemoth room is dedicated to five pool tables with dining tables of various sizes running along the edges of the room. There’s not a ton of crap on the walls, which lends to the old-time feel rather than the commercial brewpub feel. A square bar jets out from the center of the wall and runs all the way back to the entrance, taking along a few bar-top tables for company as well as some LCD televisions. In fact, these are spaced throughout the entire restaurant, but not too many of them.
So obviously I loved the location since I rambled on and on about it, but what about the tastes? Though the wood-fired pizzas were tempting, I went with a Cajun salmon and avocado sandwich with chipotle mayo on a whole wheat bun with a side of onion rings. Everything was fresh, well-prepared and absolutely delicious. The food stands out here. Unfortunately, the beer does not.
There’s nothing wrong with their brews, but there wasn’t a single one that made me do a double-take. First of all, they have a TON to choose from, so I was limited to my tastings to five since I had to drive. I stayed away from the lights, lagers, and wheats to enjoy the more flavorful offerings.
The amber was sweet and silky, characterized by low hops, a long finish, heavy caramel notes and a thin texture. The pale seemed barely hopped at first but finished very well with high citrus and floral notes from clean, crisp Amarillo hops. These were both enjoyable, and I felt this was going to go very well, but then they went downhill. The IPA tasted exactly like the pale but with Centennial hops. They didn’t use nearly enough of them. The porter was robust, deeply roasted, and not as chocolaty as its name suggested. The stout was actually more mild than the porter. It tasted more like a thick dark lager than a stout.
The service was decent. The girl behind the bar did point me towards the awesome sandwich, and apologized when she was delayed in taking my order due to filling several growlers at once.
All in all, this is a very solid brewpub, but it seemed to lack a wow factor.