Roc Brewing Co.
Chris and Jon, co-owners of Roc Brewing Co., sat impatiently as the bartender at Acme Sports Bar & Pizza asked for their identification. “We are over 21,” they declared. “That beer,” pointing to the Roc Brewing Co. tap, “is our creation!” Now in business for a little under a year, Chris’s and Jon’s ages are not to be mistaken. At only 26 years of age, Chris and Jon took a risky plunge, put their careers on the line and opened Roc Brewing Co. on Union St. in 2011. This admirable venture of two people following their dreams is enough to gain local recognition alone. Now still traveling at full-speed, they are taking the micro-brewing industry by storm. What caused these two young individuals to quit their office jobs? Chris explains the answer in three words: boredom, his mother, and of course, a love for beer.
In May 2009, Chris Spinelli was living at home attending RIT for his Master in Business Administration. Jon Mervine, Chris’s closest friend (RIT graduate) routinely spent time at Chris’s parents’ home. One afternoon, as they were twiddling their thumbs with boredom, Chris’s mom demanded they exert some energy on an activity or hobby. That’s when Chris’s mom suggested buying a homebrewing beer kit. Looking back, she could not have expected a simple hobby to turn into a limited liability company. Chris remembers making it one hour into brewing and already being hooked. After a couple of weeks, the pair began to brew two to three times a week. They immersed themselves into self-guided brewing books and online resources to learn new techniques. Hops, malt, and barley became a part of their daily vocabulary. Brewing as often as they did, their beers began to overwhelm Chris’s parents’ house, filling up to five rooms at a time.
That December an idea struck Chris. Why not open a brewery? They truly enjoyed the craft, and what did the two have to lose? After a little convincing, John jumped on board. “Are we really going to do this?” Jon asked to Chris. Chris replied without hesitation, “Yes.” After contacting a lawyer, their new reality began to unfold. They were searching for investors, filing for a DBA, obtaining their license and more. By February 2010, the company was formed. Along with filling out the paperwork, Jon and Chris reached out to other local microbreweries for guidance. It was one thing to homebrew and another to microbrew. They didn’t want to just make beer; they wanted to make good beer. This required research, patience and a drive. Other microbreweries responded quickly, and the local microbrewery Rohrbach’s became their mentor. “What’s great about this industry,” Chris explains, “is that everyone is supportive of each other. Major commercial breweries dominate the beer market but microbreweries are gaining popularity. Their ideology is promotion of each other.”
After gaining Rohrbach’s assistance and visiting a variety of breweries to gain more knowledge, the boys began to construct their own brewery. They wanted an open space with a tasting/wine bar attached. The first task was finding a location. Chris and Jon knew they wanted to be located downtown near the East End district, but still a bit off the beaten path. The building on Union St. was perfect. Not only was it close while secluded, it had an appealing open-airy feel created by the floor to wall windows. Once agreeing it was the right choice, they and other family members went to work. Everything from the electrical wiring to the bar’s back splash was hand-done. They sawed wood, put up drywall and painted. They put every bit of their hearts into its creation. Chris calls the décor industric, a mix between industrial and rustic. With the calming blue walls, the place has a casual cool feel. Chris points out that there are no televisions. The new owners wanted their customers to converse and enjoy one another’s company. No distractions. In July 2011 Roc Brewing Co. opened its doors.
Since then life, has been a whirlwind. Chris handles more on the administrative side, while Jon focuses on the brewing. Roc Brewing Co. went from selling their beer at one local bar to 25 local bars and restaurants. Together they make an unstoppable team. Chris chuckles, “Even at the end of the day, tired and burnt out, I can sit back, relax and enjoy a beer. I am truly blessed.”
Footnote: There are three owners of Roc Brewing Co. This includes Patty Spinelli, Chris Spinelli and Jon Mervine.
Rochester has six local microbreweries and one regional brewery. Each brewery listed below includes their year round and seasonal beers. Support local and visit these breweries.
Regional:Genesee Brewing Company 445 Saint Paul St. Rochester, NY 14605 (585) 546-1030 Website: www.geneseebeer.com Year Round Beers: Genesee, Genesee Cream Ale, Genesee Ice, Genesee Light, Genesee N.A. Season Beers (not limited to): Heritage Collection including 12 Horse Ale, Fyfe & Drum and Genesee Summer Brew About: The Genesee Brewing Company is part of North American Breweries, the largest independently owned beer company in the United States. The Genesee Brewery plans to open a Genesee Brew House. This includes a working microbrewery with an adjacent tour and tasting area that offers a first-hand look and taste of the brewing process. At countertop along with a selection of beer homemade gourmet sandwiches and pub-style food will be available.
Local:Roc Brewing Co. 56 South Union St. Rochester, Y 14607 (585) 794-9798 Website: http://rocbrewingco.com/ Year Round Beers: Golden Pale Ale, Irish Red, Dark Mild Seasonal Beers: IPA Rye, IPA Coffee, Belgium Blonde, Oatmeal Stout, Union 56 About: Occasional live music, host parties, bring in your own food (optional), host events including Stew and Brew, Smore’s and Beers and etc., one food item available a day, growlers for purchase.
Custom Brewing Company 300 Village Square Blvd. Honeoye Falls, NY 14472 (585) 624-4386 Website: http://www.cbsbrewing.com/ Year Round Beers: Caged Alpha Monkey, Canandaigua Lake Ale, EPA, Double Cream Porter Seasonal Beers: Finger Lakes Summer Wheat and McBubba About: Tasting room features over 15 beers on tap for you to sample and take home. Always feature CB’s Brewing Company beers as well as a handful of beers custom-made. The taps are constantly changing. Three Heads Brewing Chelmsford Road Rochester, NY 14618 (585) 797-5445 Website: http://www.ThreeHeadsBrewing.com Blog: http://beercraft.wordpress.com/ Year Round Beers: The Kind IPA, The Blimey English Ale, The Skunk Black IPA, The Java Sutra Coffee Porter Seasonal Beers: The Ontario Coast IPA and The Bromigo Smoked Maple Amber Current Beer: Common Man (One-year Anniversary) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
RohrBach Brewing Company 3859 Buffalo Road Rochester, NY 14624 (585) 594-9800 Website: http://www.rohrbachs.com/ Year Round Beers: Scotch Ale, Highland Lager, Blueberry Ale, Vanilla Porter, Kolsh, Next Door Ale Seasonal Beers: Red Wing Red Ale, Oktoberfest Lager, Kacey’s Kristmas ale About: Located on Buffalo Road, Rohrbach’s Brewpub has a vast selection of all available Rohrbach beers — plus pub food. At tasting room to enjoy samples is located at Rohrbach’s Railroad Street Brewery. Naked Dove 4048 State Route 5 and 20 Canandaigua, NY (585) 396-2537 Website: http://www.nakeddovebrewing.com Year Round Beers: Amber, IPA, Porter, Berry Naked Seasonal Beers: Hopulus Localus About: Offers tours of their microbrewery, as well as a tasting room and gift shop to explore beers made right in the Finger Lakes! Opened its doors in the fall of 2010. A growler of any of these fine beers can be filled at the tasting room for $9.00. The Special Edition Hopulus Localus is available for $12.00. If you would like a commemorative Naked Dove growler the cost is an additional $4.00. You can find Naked Dove beers at over fifty local restaurants Rogers Beer About: Rogers Beer is a contract brewing company Beers: Rogers Pale Ale, Rogers The Bulldog IPA and Rogers The Hound Dog Brown Ale (kegs only) (585) 709-6480 Website: http://www.rogersbeer.com About: Rogers Beer is the house draft at Lento Restaurant. You can also find them at local bars and restaurants.