Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rock Bottom Brewery to come to Omaha

One of our fine readers let me know about an article in the World-Herald about a Rock Bottom Brewery opening up in the old location of Famous Dave's in the Old Market. When I got this message I had mixed feelings. I have had really good beers from them and some really average beers. It really is a location by location basis. The food is good and the typical American style food.

So with mixed emotions I read the article and sure enough, my worst fears are realized, they will not have a functioning brewery at the Omaha location. They will be trucking their beers in from the West Des Moines location. I have never been to that location and have not heard about their beers so they could be great, only time will tell. Not having the local one produce their own beers will make it hard to call it a brewery and make it hard to adjust to what the "locals" want.

The good news is that another "brewery" is opening up meaning that the desire for craft brew is growing and people's palates are improving if the demand for such a place exists. That can't be a bad thing for the overall beer culture. So I applaud this with some reservations. I am not a chain anything guy so there is that, I would much rather have a Nebraska grown company open up but I know the economics of that aren't always the easiest, so this is the next best thing. I just can't help that I like to find the hole in the wall place that the local foodies and beer geeks love, it is just a sickness of mine.

Here is the article.

What are your thoughts?


Bull E. Vard said...

I think if you look at it as Rock Bottom > Famous Dave's you'll be able to accept it better. I wrote quite a bit about wanting the same thing to happen in KC in our downtown bar district. They were going to swap out Dave's for an Old Chicago and I thought it would be nice to get a Rock Bottom. None of it happened and we are still stuck with a Famous Dave's.

It does suck that they won't be brewing in the Old Market location so maybe the beers won't be as great. But, what Rock Bottom does do is host many beer events and draw people into the craft beer world. I think in places where Rock Bottom does business the homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts generally have good feelings toward Rock Bottom. Rock Bottom is an enthusiastic supporter of the beer community and I think that is definitely a positive.

I am not a shill for the Rock Bottom folks, I just think their inclusion into a community is a positive for the community. If you must have a chain, Rock Bottom is a chain I can get behind.

Nate B. said...

I remember that post of your Bull, and you are right, don't want to sound totally down about it. You made some great points and generally my experience with Rock Bottom has been good. The one that was located in Overland Park left a little to be desired though and that is partly where I base my opinion. The positive opinion comes from GABF and some of the beers there. Very good points though and it is better than Famous Dave's or Old Chicago.

Jason_Novack said...

I wonder who is going to sell the beer to Rock Bottom. Is it coming to Nebraska in kegs? If the beer comes in kegs and is sent into Nebraska will they need to involve a local distributor? In Nebraska it is illegal to self distribute. How will this affect their beer prices? According to the Omaha World Herald "Cutchall said the Omaha location will not have an on-site brewery, because of a lack of space. It will get its beers delivered fresh daily from the West Des Moines location and will have eight to 12 beers available at any one time. He said a few tables in the restaurant will have taps right at the table." I find it hard to believe they will deliver beer over two hours to Omaha daily. If they have to use a beer distributor it will take a day just to get it to the warehouse and then sent to Rock Bottom. How will the added shipping cost affect the price of beer? Are they being delivered here in refrigerated trucks? If a chain like Famous Dave’s struggling in an area of town with few BBQ restaurants maybe it is time to get out of the business. Why sink a lot of money into a flawed plan. If the beer is what makes Rock Bottom special and not having an onsite brewery what is the draw. Rock Bottom’s food is mediocre at best. Without a brewery how will they work with local home brewers? This just sounds like a bad idea. I have a better idea they should just sell the building and save themselves the pain of finding out how hard it is to make another brewpub (especial one without a brewery) work in the Old Market. Just ask Jobber’s Canyon. Upstream owns that part of town.

Nate B. said...

Very interesting comments Jason. I imagine that they can transfer beer between locations that are owned by the same entity. I also doubt that they will need beer everyday. I imagine there will be a loophole they are going to utilize on this one.

Very valid points though Jason. I will say this, it isn't my money so it can't hurt me too much. Ha!

Jason_Novack said...

You can't ship beer across state lines without a wholesaler/distributor touching it. Granite City is shipping wort and then fermenting on site. So beer is never being shipped. According to Omaha World Herald Owner Greg Cutchall said he completed a deal to become Rock Bottom's first franchisee and submitted plans to the city this week. If all goes smoothly, he said, construction will begin in mid-September and the new restaurant, called Rock Bottom Restaurant and Gold-Medal Tap, will open by Thanksgiving." Since he is a franchise it is different company. I would love to here how he is going to pull this off. The beer distributors will fight this and not let them get beer in Nebraska without paying a distribuor for it. I think this deal will fall through.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he'll need a distributor to clear the beer for him. That shouldn't be difficult to accomplish at a reasonable price. If he knows how to negotiate (with Rock Bottom and the distributor), it will probably still end up costing him less than most micros.

Doesn't seem like a very interesting idea, though...a brewpub without a brewery.

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