This is a guest post from James Marks. James is a beer connoisseur (not a snob) who loves to spend his time drinking beer, talking about beer, and imbibing with anyone in Columbus! You can follow him on Twitter @beergarcon.
When you hear “Lancaster, Ohio” what is the first thing you think of? A strong agriculture developed blue-collar town with such famous natives as Buckeye football star Bobby Carpenter, former Secretary of State John Sherman, and Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, or maybe Columbus’ closest IHOP. But one entity I’m sure you don’t think of is a Belgian-based brewery. But now you will.
Up-and-coming craft brewery, Rockmill Brewery, started and brewed by Matthew Barbee, has gained a lot of attention throughout the Central Ohio drinking scene. Barbee decided to leave Hollywood, California to come back home to Lancaster to follow his passion – Belgian Beers. Currently Rockmill brews four different traditional Belgian beers; a Dubbel, Tripel, Witbier, and his personal favorite, a Saison. Currently all of the beers are brewed on a one-barrel system and then bottle-conditioned.
Rockmill Brewery, which sits on the Rockmill Farm grounds, borders the water supply that feeds into the Hocking River. Barbee’s father, a former hydrologist, sampled these same waters and discovered the water is nearly identical in minerality to the water found in Wallonia, Belgium (an area of Belgium known for their saisons) With their water supply pure, Barbee combines the water source with organic yeast, hops and malt to create remarkable locally based organic Belgian beers.
I was fortunate enough to visit Matthew on a chilly Friday afternoon and was treated with such hospitality from him and his family. I was not only able to sample every beer with cheese and chocolate pairings but also lucky to explore the family estate. Sitting on a sizeable piece of land, Rockmill has the ability to grow substantially, although Barbee says growth will come slowly. Rockmill has ingeniously decided to collaborate with other local businesses such as Middle West Spirits. Middle West and Rockmill collaborated on a whiskey barrel aged Tripel, which I was lucky enough to sample. Rockmill is in the process of aging more of their beer in Middle West barrels and with any luck we will see bottles of their barrel-aged beers on the shelves later this year.
You are able to find Rockmill’s tremendous and locally brewed Belgian beers at retailers such as The Anderson’s (Dublin location), Whole Foods, Weilands Gourmet Market, Barrel and Bottle, Palmers Beverage Center, House Wine, Vino 100, and The Hills Market. Also, as stated before, Rockmill’s brews pair amazing with so many different edible treats, so look for them at local restaurants such as Latitude 41, Mouton, Bodega, Brews Café, The Jury Room and Little Palace.
Cheers and drink craft beer!