Cleveland beer tour, part 1 – Rocky River Brewing Co.

As I wrote in my previous post, I spent last week in the land of my birth, Cleveland, Ohio. The first three days of the trip were primarily spent visiting family. By Wednesday, we had seen all of my living relatives, so we were able to slow down a bit.

My parents graciously volunteered to babysit my niece, which allowed Nicole and me to go out for a night on the town with my sister and her husband. Since none of us really knew much about the city and all there is to do, we fell back to our usual standby activity whenever we are in an unknown place: find the brewpubs.


Our first stop on the Cleveland brewpub tour took us to Rocky River Brewing Company. This came recommended by one of my uncles and another trusted beer source, so it seemed like a good place to start. Since it was a nice day, temps in the low-80s, we opted to sit out on the expansive back deck, which they called Fin’s Island Bar. An outdoor tropical bar seemed slightly out of place for a brewpub in Cleveland and the music must have been turned to the Jimmy Buffet station, but it was a comfortable atmosphere. Besides, nothing beats drinking beer outdoors, unless it’s by a fireside in a mountain cabin.

Our waitress Lindsey was very friendly and attentive. She was under 21 and took the diplomatic route and claimed to “not know much about beer,” so I obviously had to take this as a teaching moment and prepare her for the big day when it arrives.

Rocky River Brewing Company’s beers lived up to the setting. While a few of their beers were intentionally middle-of-the-road to appeal to the masses, they were solid and enjoyable. My two favorites were the Born to Hop IPA and the Oompa Loompa Stout. Imagine that, me liking the IPA and stout the most. Go figure! I’m really getting predictable in my old age.

Here were my thoughts on each of the beers in my flight:

Is that a halo? St. Untamed Beer?

Pirate Light
Rocky River’s answer for people that ask for Miller Lite. However, this American blonde ale is much better than the mass-produced equivalent. It was mild and pleasant, with what smelled like Pilsner malt and light hopping. With a clear golden color and clean finish, this was a very nice beer.

Cooper’s Gold Kolsch
Much like the Pirate Light, Cooper’s Gold had a clear, golden color. It had a light body, but was creamier than the Pirate. It had a slightly bitter finish, just enough to let you know it was there. Again, very pleasant, but not overpowering. I would describe this as a beer appreciator’s session beer of choice.

Blueberry Ale
This was my least favorite of the selections. The golden color and blueberry aroma was nice, but the flavor seemed soapy. It had a blueberry flavor that was apparent but not overpowering. Not too sweet, it finished clean.

Subchaser Hefe-Weizen
Very nice rendition of a hefeweizen. Hazy straw colored with solid notes of clove and banana in the aroma and flavor. The sweet finish lingered for several moments.

Hop Scotch Ale
This was my brother-in-law’s favorite selection in the flight. It had a deceivingly mild caramel aroma that did not give you any clues as to the malt bomb that was to follow once you took a sip. Big, sweet and malty with roasted caramel up front. It finished bitter, which provided a nice balance to the sweetness.

Born to Hop IPA
Big citrus hop aroma. Grapefruit hop flavor with a stiff malt backbone. The finish was slightly bitter. Overall, very well-balanced and enjoyable. Had I gone for a single pint after my flight, this would have been my selection. Since we had another stop to make that evening, I allowed discretion to be the better part of valor and passed on a pint.

Oompa Loompa Stout
This was my choice for most fascinating beer at Rocky River. It had an awesome Kahlua-like aroma. The flavor was very sweet, with smooth coffee and toffee notes. The finish stuck with me for a while, as my tongue felt like it was coated with sugar. The beer was not roasty or bitter like a lot of stouts can be. I would imagine this beer would be over-the-top when paired with a chocolate dessert.


About Brian

I like beer.
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2 Responses to Cleveland beer tour, part 1 – Rocky River Brewing Co.

  1. sean says:

    A halo? I assumed it was a perogie.

    Good times!

  2. hydrometer says:

    their beer is quite good.

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