It just struck me a few weeks ago that we’ve been living in Rockville for nearly nine months now. We haven’t been to all of the breweries and brewpubs in the county, but we’ve been to a bunch, and here’s what we think of the independents:
Definitely our favorite, even if it’s kind of a pain for us to get to — if you don’t live right next to the other end of the Red Line, then it’s conveniently located less than half a mile from the Silver Spring metro stop. If you are driving, at least there’s plenty of parking nearby. Either way, once you get there, it’s a great and well-appointed taproom and beer garden.
Beer: They have more variety than most (five year round beers and four specials on tap). Everything was fantastic, including their lagers (neither of us are big fans of lagers, so it’s notable when we actually like someone’s Bohemian Pils). Their double IPA and tripel were especially good. We had mostly standard styles when we visited (the aforementioned pils, tripel and IIPA, plus a rye IPA), but we’ve also seen more adventurous stuff from them (like a sour saison we had at an event at Pike & Rose last fall). We’ve also seen their very nice saison at Founding Farmers and enjoyed it quite a bit.
Food: They have a full menu, and it’s not just pub food. Yes, they have burgers, but they also have carnitas other more interesting stuff too. Everything was great, including their veggie burger, which was falafel-like.
Ambiance: We ate in the taproom, and it was cozy and comfortable — and was fine for the kids too. It was rainy out, so we didn’t try the beer garden, but when the weather is nice, I expect it would be great too.
Newly opened this fall off Rockville Pike, just north of Montrose Parkway, about a mile from the Twinbrook metro station. It’s a very basic, business-park brewery that will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s visited a lot of breweries.
Beer: We went shortly after they opened, and all of their beers were solid, true to classic styles, but nothing blew us away. We had a flight of all their beers, and liked their rye IPA the best (got a growler to take home). I see they have several new options listed on their website now, so we’ll have to go back and see what they’re up to now.
Food: There was a food truck out front, which was great, though obviously limited by whether there’s a food truck available. They do have the schedule on their website at least.
Ambiance: Very typical business park brewery, with industrial space with brewing equipment and a bar in one corner. They have set up the space pretty well to be able to improve the taproom section, and there’s a separate little room in the front. Between the limited food options, and the lack of anything else for them, we probably wouldn’t want to bring the kids.
The county’s oldest brewery, which unfortunately just closed this week. They were in a business park a little more than a mile from the Rockville metro. We’ve gotten a few of their bottles at Belby’s (there’s still a handful left!), but had never been to their tasting room until a couple weeks ago, after we heard about them closing.
Beer: They had some standards (pale ale, abbey ale), but a lot of their beers were very original. We had our first sour barleywine from them, and it was fantastic. And for the most part, the new twists came off really well. Of the six beers they had on tap when we went, we liked two of them a ton, two were decent, and were split on the last two.
Food: They didn’t have food or food trucks, but a lot of people had picked up pizza from the Domino’s around the corner.
Ambiance: Not just in an industrial park, but crammed into a narrow unit open to the parking lot. There were a handful of seats, and a bunch of people hanging around outside (including some people smoking). Definitely wouldn’t bring the kids here.
Newly opened this winter, this is the county’s first farm brewery. They are out in the country north of Olney, and are expanding an existing horse farm. It’s a bit of a drive, but at least it’s a pleasant country drive. The tasting room is tucked behind another building, and a short walk from the parking lot (there’s a sign saying not to continue, but we think that means not to go into the horse pastures).
Beer: We really wanted to like their beers, but found them a little underwhelming. We were even tepid on their saison, and we’ve rarely met a saison at least one of us didn’t like. Their beer wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t worth the drive. As with 7 Locks, we came right after they opened, so we’ll probably give them another shot to see how they’re coming along.
Food: They had a few snack options, including some local cheese and sausage plates. They also had some craft sodas (though none of us actually liked those). They aren’t planning anything else, though they’re fine with people bringing in outside food.
Ambiance: It’s out in the country on a horse farm, so it’s nice and rustic. The tasting room was pretty small, but we did were able to get a table and share a snack with the kids while we shared a flight of their beers. Much more kid-friendly than most breweries, and the kids might even look forward to going if there were horse riding lessons involved.