It is no secret that bourbon dominates this state, but the craft beer industry is growing in Kentucky. There are locally owned breweries and microbreweries scattered all around the state and it is my mission to travel to each and every one and tell their story.
Rock House Brewing is the new kid on the block when it comes to breweries in Lexington.
Rock House opened on Dec. 17 by four people who shared a love of brewing, craft beer and music.
Their mission is “to produce a wide range of top quality beers and provide a welcoming environment for people of all demographics to join and socialize.”
Rock House’s name pays homage to the building’s former days of being the offices for the Lexington Quarry that was built in 1923. Although the building was completely gutted and remodeled, the hardwood floors are still the original flooring.
When deciding the location for the brewery, the owners had one requirement. They wanted Rock House to be inside of New Circle Road.
Despite being tucked away on North Limestone, the owners saw the potential the current property had with off street parking, a place for an outdoor patio, a warehouse to brew the beer and for overflow and a quant little taproom.
The warehouse was the perfect size for Rock House’s seven-barrel brewing system of five fermenters and one brite tank, a walk-in cooler to store kegs and an extra seating area.
The location and setup is one of the reasons that one of the owners, Kevin Richey, thinks Rock House sets itself apart from other breweries.
“It’s a pretty funky part of town and we really like that,” Richey said about the NoLi District.
Rock House might have gotten its name from the rock building that is now the tap room, but it could have also come from the owners’ shared love of music.
Music is an instrumental part of what Rock House is. The inside of the tap room is decorated with music-themed art and a guitar covered with brewery stickers sits on the fireplace’s mantle.
A love for music goes beyond decorations, it extends to the naming of the beers: “Double Kick Drum” (Double IPA), “Groupie” (Cream Ale), “Roadie” (APA), “Riot Act” (Red Rye IPA) and “Gravel Pit” (Brown Porter).
Rock House shares its love of music goes hand-in-hand with its love of the community. Rock House regularly books local bands to play on the weekends and hosts open mic night every Wednesday from 7:00. p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Open mic goes beyond music as well. It is open to poets and story tellers as well.
Rock House’s love for the Lexington community extends to the entire state of Kentucky
“Kentucky people are very proud,” Richey said. “They are very proud of the history of Kentucky. They want to support the local businesses.”
When people think of Kentucky, they think bourbon, not beer. Fair enough. However, Richey believes that even in a bourbon state, local craft breweries are just as important.
“They [Kentuckians] want to support the local businesses,” Richey said. “I think that plays a big part in why breweries, or even the craft distilleries, are popping up all over the place.”
“That’s why that stuff [craft beer] is so popular because people want to support local businesses. They want to know the owners and they want to be able to talk them. I think that ‘s what makes it unique and helps you to survive.”
Rock House understands Kentucky people’s love for their state so they brewed a Kentucky Common, a nearly lost style of beer.
Kentucky Common was almost exclusively produced and sold around the Louisville metropolitan area from the time after the Civil War up to Prohibition. Because the beer so was inexpensive and quick to produce, Kentucky Common became increasingly popular during that time period. With prohibition the style died completely, but with the explosion of craft breweries, the style is making a comeback.
Rock House’s Kentucky Common, “Dark and Bloody Ground”, is brewed with blood oranges and has flavors of sweet corn, caramel, toffee and orange with faint hints of roast. The “Dark and Bloody Ground” has become one of Rock House most popular beers.
Rock House will be celebrating its one year anniversary in December, but there is still things to accomplish.
First on the list, getting their beer into restaurants in Lexington.
“We are starting to put our plans in place to start getting some of our beers on tap throughout the city,” Richey said. “Hopefully over the next six months to a year, you’ll be able to go to pretty much any restaurant and you’ll be able to try some of our flagship beers that we have and maybe some of our special releases.”
Rock House has made many upgrades to the property including adding a patio with tables to the tap room, a fire pit area with benches and a certified Monarch Waystation. Monarch Waystation is butterfly garden that provides resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration.
With everything Rock House has done to the brewery, there still a lot more they want to do.
“We are still working on our location and trying to make it more appealing to come and hang out,” Richey said. “Just doing upgrades and working on construction projects. Just making it little more comfortable, more inviting. Right now I think we’re lacking a little bit of that.”
Some of the upgrades include adding more games like a foosball table, badminton net, tetherball, and dart boards.
“We have such a great property, so we want to use it for people to come out and play,” Richey said.
Rock House already has a basketball hoop, corn hole boards, a ping pong table and their most popular attraction, fowling. Fowling is a hybrid game that combines elements of football, bowling, and horseshoes.
There are eight breweries in Lexington but each brings their own style of beer and atmosphere to the craft beer scene.
“We kind of want to be very diverse,” Richey said about the beer and environment of Rock House. “Anybody can come in and have a good time and hang out. Not just try to cater to one type of person. We want to make it comfortable to everyone to hang out.”
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