VIA ROCKWELL BEER COMPANY
RBC's latest is available at select local stores as well as via online purchasing at the company's official website
Earlier this week during the lunch hour, a driver pulled into the parking lot of Rockwell Beer Company with a few questions.
He asked if this was a brewery (“it is”), and whether the place was open (“at this moment, it is open, every day of the week”), and if the brewery’s beer was for sale on-site (“it is”), and if there was food available (“once again, yes”). Satisfied with these affirmations, the gentleman suggested that he’d be back for a visit soon, then popped back into his sedan.
Retail sales is sometimes about getting that one new customer, and on Tuesday, Rockwell Beer Company may have just scored a new one — a prospective one, at the very least. It’s a good time for breweries to make those small gains, as they, as much as any industry, have had to adapt to the COVID buying practices of their clientele.
RBC’s beers are available in stores, yes, as well as through a curbside pick-up system that at least kept some money flowing in while the tasting room was closed. As noted above, it’s since reopened, with reservations made for small parties, limited walk-up availabilities and 1.75-hour slots the general rule.
That kind of time frame would give fans, new and old, a chance to work through at least a fraction of the sixteen tap lines in-house, which offer some items not available in stores, created in small batches for consumption on site. The brand’s most recent offering is one of the best they’ve yet created, Crisp Chinos, a jasmine rice lager that comes in at 5.2% ABV and packs a whole lot more flavor than a lot of the summertime lagers and pilsners hitting the local craft market of late.
Jonathan Moxey, head brewer at Rockwell Beer Company since its inception, says that Crisp Chinos came about as the next-generation kin to a beer called Straphanger, from Kings County Brewers Collective in New York. When KCBC’s Zack Kinney came to St. Louis for a beerfest, he and Moxey went to work to put “a Rockwell spin” on the original, and Moxey eventually settled in on a beer, Crisp Chinos, that scored solid points with RBC regulars during appearances in the tap room over the last year.
Presuming a normal summer ahead, Moxey put work into making Crisp Chinos, a lager that could have a heavier presence in STL stores “just in time for baseball season.” Though that didn’t go exactly to plan, the beer has gone out on distributor Craft Republic’s trucks, hitting local stores over the past week.
In some respects, the rice component is key. Moxey says that puffed brown rice and puffed jasmine rice were used to bring flavor. In addition, the beer calls on equal parts Crystal hops from Michigan and German Saphir hops, used for brewing and dry-hopping, along with Floor-Malted Bohemian Pilsner malt.
“This particular batch,” Moxey says, “lagered for three months. Typically, we lager for six or seven weeks. We lightly dry hopped it along the way to brighten it up, make it interesting as well as crushable. We get a lot of our hops from Michigan, the Crystal hops have a very fruit-forward character. Pacific Northwest hops are great, but can have a perfume-like character that I wasn’t looking for here, so the Saphir, a newer German hop, brought a bright character, a lime zest.”
Having a new beer to share with the world in cans is a big win, through Moxey notes that “85% of our beer goes out of the tasting room. And shutting that down for a couple of months really threw a hammer into things. We put a lot of beer down the drain. With having sixteen taps at our disposal here, we can rip off small one-offs, play and experiment a little more. Lately, we’ve had to be a lot more calculated, as in, ‘What happens if we get shut down again?’ You don’t wanna dump more down the drain.”
A notion that would chill the blood of any proud beer drinker, be they a longtime fan of Rockwell Beer Company or someone just driving by, wondering what that brewery’s making in there.
Crisp Chinos is available at select local stores as well as via online purchasing at RBC's official website
, as 16 oz. singles, four-packs, cases and sixth-barrels.
Thomas Crone is a longtime
Riverfront Times contributor. He will report on a weekly basis about new releases from local distilleries and craft breweries.
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