Pass the suds… from Rocky River Brewing Company

Mike Suglio, Staff Reporter

On yet another cold evening, I drove out to Rocky River in search of delicious beer. This week I checked out Rocky River Brewing Company set in a suburban town, but still easily drivable for Case Western Reserve University students.

Upon entering the brewery, several large brew kettles welcome you at the entrance. You are not simply in a pub or a bar; Rocky River Brewery immediately differentiates itself. The bar is a large and wooden staple of the place and reminds you of a turn-of-the century watering hole in any metropolis. The bar circumferences more brew kettles.

A very enthusiastic and energetic bartender served us very generous samples of all eight of their in-house brewed beers. The brewery also had a few guest beers and some ciders for non-beer drinkers.

The samples were cleverly presented from lightest to darkest, so your pallet is not ruined after the first one. I started off with the Pirate Light, which was a very light and refreshing lager. The beer tasted similar to most American domestics but had a lot more flavor. This would be perfect to drink while watching any summer sporting or music event.

Next I tried the Cooper’s Gold Kolsch, which was a standard kolsch. I enjoyed it, but it was not exceptional in comparison to the other kolsch beers I have had at various other breweries. Following was the Blueberry Ale, which had a clear blueberry taste, but it wasn’t too strong; I found this one very enjoyable.

By far the best beer I tried at this brewery was the Old Man River Barley Wine. Despite a solid 9.5 percent Alcohol By Volume,this beer had a very sweet caramel taste to it. Unlike most barley wines I have had, there was not a clear alcohol taste because it was so sweet. The use of caramel to mask the alcohol taste you would get from a barley wine was pretty genius. If you are a barley wine fan, this is worth the drive for. One of the best barleywines I have ever had.

On the flipside, the Rogue Wave Red was my least favorite beer. It was a smooth beer but just tasted odd and not like most reds I have had in the past. I simply did not like it. Their other red ale, Santa’s Little Helper Christmas Ale, however, was fantastic. It had a clear taste of honey and cinnamon and was rather light for a Christmas beer. The drink was very well-balanced and rich with flavor. This was a close second to the barleywine as my favorite beer from this brewery.

The final two beers I had were good, but not exceptional. The Old Detroit IPA was a solid IPA and not too hoppy, but tasted similar to most IPA’s I have had. The Cleveland Coffee Stout was also a good coffee stout, but paled in comparison to other coffee flavored alcohols. The stout did not have a strong coffee taste, which makes the beer very balanced and open to people who like stouts but may not like coffee stouts.

Tuesday night was $6 burger night, so I decided to embark on the special occasion. I ordered the Relish Burger, which was cooked perfectly at medium-well. It was large, juicy and flavorful. The burger was topped with a hash brown that resembled the hash browns from McDonald’s. My childhood memories of combining McDonald’s breakfast items with dinner items were finally fulfilled. The fries were big and crispy and had the perfect seasoning on them.

The food was fantastic, some beers were exceptional and others, not so much. But Rocky River Brewing Company had very affordable prices compared to many of the other breweries. If you are looking for something different yet affordable, then the Rocky River Brewing Company is a perfect choice.