Brewpubs in Rochester: Like hops- and barley-infused tulips in the springtime.
That gorgeous piece of poetry means (obviously) that if you’ve ever dreamed of a Rochester with a local brewpub on every corner, we’ll be getting three steps closer to that reality this year.
Kinney Creek Brewing (1016 Seventh St. NW) kicked things off in late 2012 when they opened the first brewery in Rochester since prohibition. (That was a long dry spell.) They’ve been hopping ever since with new beer and creative events, like a firkin keg that was timber-infused with hemp seed, as well as Lost Cajun gumbo and king cake for Mardi Gras.
But along with the rest of the country and particularly the Midwest, where the local brewpub scene is booming, Rochester’s brewing scene is about to get a lot bigger.
Forager Brewing Co. will be part of a neighborhood coffee shop/market/brewpub in Kutzky Market, which owner Annie Henderson said she hopes to open by summer in the former Good Food Store on Sixth Street Northwest.
LTS Brewing (2001 32nd Ave. NW) was featured in the most recent issue of Growler Magazine, a Minneapolis-based craft brewing publication. LTS (which stands for “Life’s Too Short” to drink bad beer) founder and brewmaster Brandon Schulz and business partner Jeff Werning’s brewing system is in place, and the first step is to brew for distribution to local establishments. They plan to open a taproom at the brewery as well, and they’ll eventually add a kitchen.
The closing of Sontes on Jan. 1 made way for Grand Rounds Brewpub (4 Third St. SW) still under Tessa Leung’s ownership with new co-owner and master brewer Steve Finnie. In the rise of brewpubs across the Midwest, Leung said she sees parallels with the California wine industry.
“Thirty or forty years ago, a bunch of people in Napa and Sonoma said, ‘We can grow great fruit and nuts here, but you know what? We’re going to make great wine.’ People thought they were crazy, but it turned into an awesome culture.”
Beer is enjoying the same kind of creative industry growth right here in our backyard.
“Minneapolis was just rated the sixth-best city in the country for brewing culture,” said Leung. “In the Midwest, we’re becoming the Napa/Sonoma of beer.”
Grand Rounds just finalized their opening menu, which Leung said is full of Executive Chef Alex Sjoberg’s signature comfort foods, and will announce their official opening date soon.
With all this action, craft brew fans should be happy for the rest of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if more brewpubs and taprooms are in the works in a few more homebrew basements across the city.
ZZest Market after hours
Warmer weather on the horizon makes me think summer, and summer makes me think Thursdays on First and Third, Rochester’s crazy-popular downtown market held every Thursday through the summer.
If you’re like me and need a bit of a tide-over during our slow spring warmup, head out next Thursday night, March 12, to the First Avenue Food Court in the skyway level of Shops at University Square. There, ZZest Market is hosting its first of three monthly “Taste of the Market” events from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
They’ll feature lots of free samples (possibly including wine), as well as special discounts and drawings. ZZest Market will host two more this spring, so mark your calendars for the second Thursday of each month (April 9 and May 7) for new samples and features each time.