Rockwell Beer & Niche Food Group to Pair Up Late Spring 2018
St. Louis, MO/December 27, 2017 (STL.News) – More than a year ago, craft beer maker Andy Hille (Perennial Artisan Ales) announced plans to open his own craft brewery in the Botanical Heights neighborhood, just south of The Grove. After resolving some financing issues, Hille has announced that plans are finally coming together for his Rockwell Beer Company to open in the spring of 2018. What’s more, the 12,000-square foot space he’s leased at 1320 South Vandeventer will include a restaurant concept created by Gerard Craft’s Niche Food Group.
According to the announcement, Rockwell Beer Company has formed a partnership with Green Street St. Louis for the redevelopment of the site (currently the home of HM Dinzler Equipment Company). According to the release, the new brewery, tasting room, and shop will be “at the center of what will be the first phase in the redevelopment of a major stretch of Vandeventer Avenue in The Grove.” Green Street is already heavily invested in the neighborhood, with a portfolio that includes Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Grove Brewery and Bierhall and CHROMA, a $50-million mixed use development under construction at Chouteau and Manchester Avenues.
Construction of the new brewery is slated to begin in January, with opening day expected to be in May or June of 2018. Hille is spending more than $5 million to transform the formerly industrial space into a state-of-the-art craft brewery and tasting room. Hille has contracted with JEMA Studio to design the overall space. His plan calls for a 15-barrel brewhouse. Hille spent last week finalizing the brewhouse design and layout with Portland Kettle Works, the Portland, Oregon-based brewery equipment manufacturer. On Facebook, Hille said he’s excited to be using equipment made in America to brew his beer.
Hille grew up in St. Louis, but learned beer-making while working at Finch’s Beer Company in Chicago. In an interview with the Riverfront Times last year, Hille said he lived on Rockwell Street in the Windy City, and that’s where he got the name for his craft brewery. When finished, the new Rockwell Beer Co. facility will include a tasting room and retail store offering branded merchandise. Hille has said his vision is that of a place that appeals to both craft beer fans and casual drinkers. That vision also included offering food, but since he doesn’t cook, Hille looked for someone who does, and does it very, very well.
Enter Gerard Craft. The James Beard Award-winner and the team behind Pastaria, Sardella, Taste, Brassiere, and Porano will be creating a concept aimed at further enhancing the already wonderful symbiosis between beer and food. Hille has said he isn’t going to be directly involved with the food service side of things, leaving that aspect entirely in the hands of the Niche Food Group. So, the eatery will actually be a standalone concept. More details about the menu and name are expected to come directly from Craft’s team in the near future. One thing’s for certain: you can expect food that goes well with beer.
Once open, the brewery side of the operation is expected to employ 10–12 people. The 1,500-square foot tasting room will feature several taps dispensing a rotating list of Rockwell Brewing Company beers, as well as occasional guest taps from other local breweries. Hille has said he doesn’t really want to offer a “flagship” brew, preferring instead to focus on making a nice variety of very drinkable beers that will keep customers coming back. The planned 60-seat patio and plenty of off-street parking should also add to Rockwell’s appeal.
In the coming weeks, look for Rockwell’s new branding to be released. Hille has selected TOKY (with offices in St. Louis and Denver) to help him develop a brand strategy including creating a digital identity with a new website, plus cans, bottles and other assorted merchandise. That merchandise will be available for sale in the onsite shop.
It’s taken two years for the Rockwell Beer Co. plan to advance from initial concept to this point. But Hille has said it was time well spent. This new brewery project should fit in nicely with the development boom currently underway along Vandeventer Avenue and in the nearby Grove business district along Manchester Avenue. And there’s always room in St. Louis for another outlet of Gerard Craft’s masterful cuisine.
Rockwell Beer Company
Owner: Andy Hille
1320 South Vandeventer Ave.
Botanical Heights/The Grove
St. Louis, MO 63110
Opening: Late Spring 2018