Rochester, On the map


by Mark Tichenor

A few years ago, I was sitting at The Old Toad, polishing off a couple pints with British beer writer Pete Brown (author of Hops and Glory, and several other awesome beer-focused books). He mentioned his travels around the US in pursuit of great beer, and kind of offhandedly said Rochester wouldn’t be on that map as a beer destination.

Were Pete to visit today, he’d likely change his mind, especially if he were to come during Rochester Beer Week.

We just woozily put the 5th annual Rochester Real Beer week to bed. We just experienced a joyous seven days of beer festivals, tap takeovers, tastings, keg tossery, and enjoying the world’s most social beverage on a citywide scale. Looking back, it’s amazing that we’re all still alive. No, wait, I mean it’s amazing how far craft beer has come in this City, both in terms of its appreciation by consumers, and production by brewers. Since Rochester Real Beer Week 2014, four new breweries have opened in Monroe County, with more on the way. Meanwhile, our existing breweries have been expanding, adding larger brewing and fermenting facilities and canning lines.

Facilitating all this is the willingness of local retailers to, in many case belatedly, embrace the craft beer revolution. Rochester has long enjoyed pioneering beer outlets like Beers of the World, MacGregor’s, and The Old Toad, and a growing cadre of gastropubs spearheaded by The Tap and Mallet. But now more conservative, old guard bars are coming around to the fact that their patrons, the ones who’ve been coming there for years, have fallen in love with craft beer. They realize that the increased cost of artisan brew turns into profit in the end, and sets their establishments apart as worthy destinations for a new influx of thirsty, discerning people.

And that’s really what it comes down to. None of this would be possible for anyone without the public having found yet another thing about our mid-sized city that makes it eminently cosmopolitan and liveable. On any given day, it’s possible to choose from over a hundred beers made in or around Monroe County, some of which could stand toe to toe with anything coming out of Portland, San Diego or Philadelphia.

And here’s the best part: things are going to get even better. New breweries are ramping up, area brewers are improving in skill, and your neighbors show no sign of slaking their thirst. It’s exciting to think about what will be on tap for Rochester Real Beer Week 2016.

I think I might give Pete Brown an email, and invite him to come find out for himself. If he doesn’t remember exactly how to get here no problem. When it comes to beer, Rochester is now on the map.

In other beers:

If you happen to be driving down Atlantic Ave on the way to work, or Anderson Ave on the way to, well, wherever you spend your free time, you might notice the big empty lot full of construction equipment and port-a-johns. That’s a crew commencing construction on the new Three Heads Brewery.

Currently, Three heads’ recipes are brewed at CB Craft Brewery of Honeoye falls, and the guys have been pining for a brewery of their own. Slow and steady wins the race, and their new brewery is rising in the Neighborhood of the Arts.

Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at Find him on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to


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