How Many Economics Majors Does It Take to Open a Microbrewery?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with two young entrepreneurs from my hometown, Rochester, NY. Chris Spinelli and Jonathan Mervine are both proud RIT graduates who studied Economics. Coincidentally enough, they both really love making beer.

With their good business sense, supportive families and a couple years of successful stovetop homebrewing under their belts, they knew they had everything they needed to embark on a journey that many people have only dreamed of. They’re in the process of launching Roc Brewing Co., their very own microbrewery.

Roc Brewing Company

Although they’re still in the early stages, they’ve already secured what I believe to be the ultimate location. The brewery will be situated in a striking, up to date space on South Union Street in the popular East End area of downtown Rochester. If all goes according to plan with their permit application and the City Planning Commission next week, Spinelli and Mervine will be serving beer to thirsty Rochesterians at their very own tasting bar by early spring.

Roc Brewing Co

While the guys were busy brewing, they took the time to fill me in on what they’re all about and they even let me try some of the beers. They hope to initially serve six different brews at their tasting bar and they’re also planning on giving guided tours of the brewery. If the samples that I enjoyed are any indication of what’s to come, Rochester is in luck.

My favorite was their Nut Brown, which really surprised me because Nut Browns aren’t usually my thing. This one was made with vanilla beans that were rehydrated in bourbon, so it had a distinctive taste that was deliciously smooth and enchantingly complex all at the same time.

Roc Brewing Co. is going beyond the beer to set their company apart. Most environmentally conscious brewers use their spent grain as garden mulch but Chris and Jon have come up with an awesome recipe for specialty dog treats. They throw a little peanut butter in and let me tell you, my English Bulldog, Tank, was a big fan.

Roc Brewing Co Dog Treats

I’m excited to watch things unfold for these college friends turned business partners. If you spent a few hours talking beer with them, you would be too.

If you’re local (in the Western NY area), you can check out their next tasting event on September 25th. From 2 until 5pm they’ll be at MagPie Irish Pub on Park Avenue with their American IPA, Pale Ale, Porter and more! Stop by, meet the guys and sample some of Rochester’s upcoming microbrews before everyone else catches on.

I firmly believe that with their unbridled passion, serious smarts and so many people who believe in them, they can’t go wrong. We wish Chris and Jon well as they turn their dream into a reality and we’ll be sure to keep all of you posted on their progress.


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