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Monday, April 4, 2016

New Craft Brewer Rockwell Beer Company Is Coming to St. Louis

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 6:15 AM

click to enlarge Your beer options are about to expand again. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR / MARTIN GARRIDO
  • Photo courtesy of Flickr / Martin Garrido
  • Your beer options are about to expand again.

You know it's true: St. Louis can never have enough beer. So if you're bored with your standbys, we have great news for you — a new brewing company with a sharp pedigree is coming to town. 

Andy Hille, who is currently a brewer at Perennial Artisan Ales, announced Friday that his new Rockwell Beer Company will open with a 15-barrel brewhouse and production facility, along with a retail store selling Rockwell merchandise and beer to go. Add a 2,000-square-foot tasting room and a spacious outdoor patio, and you just may have found your new favorite hangout. 

The new craft brewery will provide a balance of both classic and progressive styles. Taps will feature Rockwell Brewing Company beers, as well as occasional guest taps from other local breweries.

Hille, Rockwell's founder and president, has been with Perennial for three and a half years and will stay at the company through Craft Beer Week in August. Hille said in a phone interview that he got the idea for Rockwell Beer Company last year and that the people at Perennial have been very supportive — he largely credits his experience at Perennial for preparing him to start his own company.

Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, but raised in St. Louis, Hille grew up with ties to craft beer — his uncle was even a barley breeder. He developed his skills at Finch's Beer Company in Chicago, where he lived on a street named Rockwell. He returned to his hometown when the opportunity to work at Perennial arose — bringing the street name back with him. 

The official location for Rockwell Beer Company has yet to be decided, though the company is eyeing a stretch of Vandeventer Avenue in the Grove neighborhood for a 12,000 to 15,000 square-foot building. Construction will begin as soon as they finalize the building selection. They hope to start brewing by late fall. If you can't wait until then, though, you can get tickets to their debut tasting event, to be held May 5 at The Demo. 

In the meantime, Park Central Development is assisting in the search for a property. According to Matt Green, Project Manager for Park Central Development, the geographic and historical significance of the Grove neighborhood is part of the appeal. 

"Given the dramatic resurgence of Manchester Avenue, Tower Grove Avenue and the areas in and around Forest Park Southeast, Botanical Heights, the Central West End and Midtown, it is only natural that Vandeventer begins to see new attention, investment and development,” Green said in a statement. “A revitalized Vandeventer Avenue is critical to the central corridor of the City of St. Louis, and the addition of Rockwell Beer Company will certainty help kick start those efforts.”

Eventually, Hille says he would love to see Rockwell Beer Company expand to other cities.  He likes the idea of Nashville, Tennessee, because of its parallels to St. Louis, as well as Charleston, South Carolina, for its great food and drink scene (the fact that his parents are there doesn't hurt, either). While Chicago is very competitive, he says it would be a dream to open a location there as well.

But for now, Hille says he wants to devote attention to the home base right here in St. Louis. And that's a plan we can drink to.

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