Rochester has recently been named one of the World’s Top 10 Beer Destinations, coming in at #7. Monroe County is currently home to more than 25 craft breweries, showing just how much this city loves its craft beer. BTB decided to create a list of the top breweries to visit in Rochester and the surrounding area. Our rankings took into consideration the food, the pricing, the overall atmosphere, and, of course, the beer. Check it out and see how many you’ve hit and which ones you still need to try out.
7. Genesse Brewhouse
It’s hard to make a top breweries list for Rochester without including its staple: The Genesee Brewhouse. Located next to High Falls with beautiful rooftop seating, Genesee is a must-see place for many RIT students to show their visiting family and friends. With delicious, decent-priced food, Genesee deserves a spot on the list. However, its brews aren’t anything spectacular and sometimes it’s just easier to pick up a case at the nearest Wegmans. It’s definitely a place to visit, but Rochester has some more hidden gems to offer.
►Location: 25 Cataract Street, right next to High Falls
►A Beer to Try: the Scotch Ale (a friend once told us that you can always tell if a brewery’s quality based on its scotch ale, and Genesse does not disappoint)
►Bonus Points: the view of the waterfall is really what makes this place an experience, not just another place to eat
6. Mortalis Brewing Co.
With a galaxy and mythological theme, some extra fun is added to ordering your drinks named after planets and Greek gods. One of the cool things about this place is the huge chalkboard above the bar with all the beers, their ingredients, and ABVs. While most breweries do this, Mortalis adds in an extra column showing what each beer “tastes like.” Employees give creative descriptions of all the flavors to help customers choose. Along with unique beers, the food options are just as stellar. The only thing really keeping this brewery lower on the list is it’s not too close to campus or the city. The drive is a bit longer, but it’s worth it.
►Location: 5660 Tec Drive (Avon, NY)
►A Beer to Try: Milk of the Gods: Blueberry Cheesecake IPA (it tastes like heaven)
►Bonus Points: there’s outdoor seating with a gorgeous view of all the green surrounding the building
5. Rohrbach Beer Hall & Brewery
Not only does Rohrbach brew some fantastic beers, but its food menu is delicious. Including pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and more, there are so many tasty options to choose from. There’s also a good chance you’ll hear some live music when you go. Because of the building acoustics, the music can get a little loud, so if it’s not something you’re looking for, ask for seating in the side room. Its dimly-lit atmosphere makes it a little less inviting and gives it a more late-night bar feel than a family-friendly brewery, lowering its ranking on the list.
►Location: 97 Railroad Street, right by the Public Market
►A Beer to Try: The Blueberry Ale (if this list was based on beers alone, this would be number one)
►Bonus Points: The Pints & Pies happy hour special lets you choose any combination of a pint and pizza for $15.00
4. Roc. Brewing Co.
Roc. Brewing Co. stands out from some of the previous ones because of the atmosphere. It’s a much lighter inside and has a very welcoming and friendly vibe. There’s a whole shelf stacked full of different games to play with your friends and family. Plus, bigger table games are available around the restaurant, adding a truly interactive element to the dine-in experience. The food menu is small, not giving it one of the top spots, but we do recommend the Caprese Roc Sliders.
►Location: 56 South Union Street, across from the Strong Museum
►A Beer to Try: The Whoopass (not only is it fun to say, but it’s the perfect mixture of sweetness and bitterness)
►Bonus Points: The whole front of the restaurant is made of glass windows, letting you look out at the City and enjoy some good ‘ole downtown Rochester
3. Swiftwater Brewing
Swiftwater’s got the beer, the food, and the atmosphere down. With a full menu of snacks, appetizers, meals, and desserts, it edges into the top three spots on our list. The beer is just as delicious (and all of them are gluten-reduced). There’s outdoor seating, tons of weekly specials, and a shelf of board games to play with your friends while sipping on some specialty beers. The only downfall is the busy road you might hear if sitting outside, but everything else about the place makes up for it.
►Location: 378 Mt. Hope Avenue
►A Beer to Try: Muncheez Truck (a peanut butter, coconut, and chocolate stout)
►Bonus Points: There are weekly events, including Trivia Thursdays and Vinyl Sundays. If you bring your own vinyl to play, you get $1 off your drafts!
2. New York Beer Project
Not only is the menu expansive, but nothing on it is more than 20 bucks. The prices are fair and the quality of the food is spectacular. The beers range from dark, flavorful stouts, to tropical, fruity IPAs and sours. There’s a NYC subway theme throughout the whole place. Sip on some heavenly craft beer in the Indoor Beer Garden, while surrounded by giant Chestnut Trees, or enjoy a tempting cocktail outside on the Rooftop Bar. From live music throughout the week to weekly trivia games, there’s usually something exciting going on.
►Location: 300 High Street (Victor, NY)
►A Beer to Try: Walter’s Jelly Donut (a raspberry kohlsch named after the owner of the land which is now home to NYBP)
►Bonus Points: Along with weekly events, NYBP hosts fun and unique events, you won’t find at other breweries, including silent discos and themed parties
1. K2 Brothers Brewing
K2 is the perfect mix of everything. With spectacular craft beers, ciders, wines, and cocktails, there is something for every interest. The food menu also has a wide selection, but it’s not too expansive that you feel overwhelmed choosing. There’s even a kids menu with smaller portions for the little ones (and yes, you can be any age and order off of it). There’s indoor seating, with booths, tables, and bar seats available. In the warmer months, you’ll want to be outside. There’s picnic tables, high bar tables, benches, a gazebo, and even a porch swing. There are also lawn games, including a four-foot tall Connect Four game and plenty of Corn-hole boards scattered along the fence. One of the best parts of K2 is the fire pit, with plenty of seating around it. When the sun sets and the string lights turn on, cozying up by the fire is a perfect way to end the night.
►Location: 1221 Empire Boulevard
►A Beer to Try: Since this is the top spot to check out, we’ll give you two: the Imperial Rocky Road Stout and the Promegranate Hefeweizen
►Bonus Points: if you get a flight, K2 gives you a little container of pretzels to help clear your palette
Since Rochester does have so many breweries, we decided to throw in some honorable mentions for some extra fun. These three may not have made the top list, but they each have something special to offer.
►Three Heads Brewing: lots of live music, great beers, and is home to the Tiger Blood IPA
►Blue Toad Hard Cider: if beer isn’t always your thing, head here for a vast selection of craft ciders
►Rochester Beer Park: not technically a brewery, but this trailer-park themed bar is something you don’t want to miss
Make sure to let us know which places you’ve visited, which ones are your favorite, and which ones you can’t wait to try out! And remember: you must be 21 years old to purchase and/or consume alcoholic beverages. Always drink responsibly!
And remember: this is an opinion piece by the BTB team. Please feel free to recommend some others in the comments for others to see and try out!