RJ Rockers Brewery, Spartanburg, SC

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Daughter in tow from a visit to Virginia, we stopped at the brewery that I really wanted to visit, RJ Rockers in Spartanburg, SC.  Some while back while visiting my dad, a non-beer drinker, he offered a Bell Ringer Ale, to this date the best beer I’ve had from South Carolina.

(And, it’s perhaps at this point that I should point out, as this is not an official brewery reviewing site, that I am not an alcoholic.  I drink responsibly, savoring the flavor of beers.  I say that also because I’ll likely have 2-3 more brewery reviews arriving soon.  Don’t worry folks.  I’m very mindful of my health, which is why I drink Coke Zero.  Only the best chemicals!)

My fondness for visiting breweries, as opposed to just sampling beers, is that this exploding business is very distinctively “local.”   I can get Atlanta Bread Company in Las Vegas or Seattle’s Best Coffee in Atlanta.  The capitalistic paradigm points towards expansion, but I tire of a homogenous nation.  How much fun is that? 

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So, here it is.  Out of sight to the right of the above is a space leased out as a restaurant, but the brewery has fun with the walls nevertheless:

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... as they should.  Going to something “local” means that you shouldn’t visit a cookie cutter venue – there should be some personality to it.  (The opposite of Jekyll Brewing, for instance).

In addition to embellishments, I’m also very agreeable to the use of old buildings.  They just don’t make curved roofs anymore.

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Their present site was built in 1947 as a Dodge dealership and was a Goodwill before Rockers purchased the building.

The beer, of course, matters too.  For a VERY agreeable $5, you get a souvenir pint glass and four tickets for 4 oz. pours.

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My choices were:  Black Perle, a dark IPA that might be a favorite had I not tried Schlafly’s Black IPA.  Still, it’s very good, and it’s a style – roasted malt and hops - that might be my personal favorite when I find “the One.”  New Belgium’s 1554 is close.

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Their Trainwreck IPA was a little disappointing, in that it was average.  I just hoped for more.

I generally don’t like fruit flavored beers (blueberry, strawberry, pear...), but I couldn’t help but try the Son of a Peach, with peaches purchased from the Clemson area.  It was pretty darn good for a light, refreshing beer.  Even better, though, was Peachy King, which was taken a different direction with a faint vanilla addition.  Kind of silky smooth. 

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Overall, I was very pleased with beers sampled, and I wish more of their beers were available in Atlanta.  I can understand that various beers appear to the tastes of the individual, but I find the ratings given Rockers’ beers on the two major rating services about 0.30 to 0.40 too low.  They should easily average a 4.0 across their brands.

Anyway, that leaves the tour.

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In which we observe the usual historical facts (began in a restaurant in 1997), and see the ubiquitous stainless steel vats, fermenters, kettles and such, as well as mentions of wort, CO2 relief valves, yeasts, hops, adjuncts... and...  I’ve heard it all before, and I enjoy hearing it again.  Maybe someday I’ll remember it all.

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I was surprised by the limited capacity, but then, I hadn’t paid much attention to the basement level, had I? 

What’s up with that? I’m supposed to be experienced at plant tours.

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And that’s how they keep up with demand, which is currently Maryland and south, though I did observe a 6 pack of their Patriot Ale in Portland recently.

If you’re wondering how bottles get into the 6 pack carriers... the answer is:  by hand.

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I’m glad I visited, and I’ll continue to favor their Bell Ringer Ale, and sample others when I can.

Disappointingly, they were out of XL’s for the shirt I favored...

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