Spending a few nights just outside Charlotte, across the state line in Rock Hill, South Carolina, I found myself with a free evening and decided to explore the local craft beer scene. Surprisingly for such a small town there were four breweries nearby, so I set off to explore. My first stop brought me to the eponymously named Rock Hill Brewing Company right in the heart of downtown. Open for just under a year, this brewery was the realized dream of two local business owners and beer aficionados. Based on the crowd I saw there, it seems that this microbrewery has quickly become a local favorite, and with good reason. So sit back and enjoy this review from a brewery that has had anything but a rocky start.
- Beer – The tap menu is limited, with only about a dozen beers on at a time. Their mission statement is to provide beers that run the gamut of styles and flavors, and they certainly make a good showing of it. Their current tap list is mostly lighter beers, with one rye stout that provides something with a little more body, though historically they have jumped all over the beer style chart with their creations. With the smaller brewing capacity, it allows the brewers to show off their creativity and uniqueness, and it is unlikely that every time you go the same beers will be available. As for the quality, I would rate their beers as above average. They really let the fundamentals of brewing shine through while adding little twists to create something that is not the least bit boring and often extremely drinkable. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – Built out of a renovated historical building downtown, the interior is all exposed brick, duct work, and electrical wiring, heavily accented with dark wood all around. The tap room is expansive, with most of the square footage devoted to seating, with tables, bar stools, and comfy looking couches and chairs scattered around. A large roll-up door gives access to the small patio and allows the cool evening breeze to blow through in the summer. One unique aspect of the bar is that the bright tanks are directly behind it and your beer is poured straight from the tank instead of kegs. While they do not have a kitchen, the pizza joint next door will take orders and deliver to you at the brewery. The prices are reasonable, and their hours are limited to the late afternoon and evening during the week, with longer hours on the weekend, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – The events at Rock Hill are very community driven, as evidenced most by the weekly running group that meets up there weekly and gets happy hour pricing all night before and after the run. They also have live music every Friday night and Taco Tuesday weekly. Add in other events such as “Bring your own vinyl night” and “Boot camp + beer” and it is easy to see why so many people make this place part of their weekly routine. If you aren’t interested in live music, there are plenty of televisions for watching whatever sporting event may be happening, and there are even a few games scattered around the room if that is more your thing. Score: 4/5
- Location – They could not have picked a much better location for a brewery in the downtown area. Aside from the pizza place next door, there are a handful of other restaurants and breweries within easy walking distance, with a movie theater and outdoor mall a short drive away. Parking is available on the street and in a large lot next door, and traffic was never an issue the multiple times I was in the area. Score: 3.5/5
- Customer Service – Rock Hill is truly a taproom attached to a brewery, so all of your ordering will be done at the bar and there is not table service for refills. My order was taken within seconds of sitting down and delivered to me equally fast. What really made my night was that one of the owners/head brewer was serving behind the bar and took time to make suggestions and chat with me about the local beer scene and his history in brewing. He even brought me a sample of the next beer they were about to put on tap so I could try it before it was available (it was really good!). It was easy to see the love and enjoyment that went into the whole brewing process and I really appreciated that extra effort that went in to making myself and the other customers feel welcome while visiting the brewery. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 18.5/25
Favorite Beer: April-Cot Showers – 6.2% Blonde Ale
Final Thoughts: A surprising and thoroughly enjoyable find for a small town in northern South Carolina, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Rock Hill Brewing Company and highly recommend stopping in if you are in the area. I look forward to visiting next time I swing through there and hope they continue to grow and keep putting out excellent quality beer.