*This is the seventy-fourth post in an on-going chronicle dubbed the Great Wisconsin Brewery Tour. Follow the journey here.*
Rockhound Brewing Company
444 S Park St
Madison, WI 53715
Visit date: 09/24/16
1) How many different beers?
8 on tap, goal is 10-12 (11 total brewed).
2) How long operational?
3) Why? (here, this, etc)
Neighborhood-son leaves corporate world for brewing passion.
5 barrel system outputting to bars and restaurants nearby.
5) What sets you apart?
Full kitchen, high quality food, clean (well-made) beer.
6) How did you get your name?
Old-fashioned term for a geologist.
In the current dining and farming culture, it’s about everything local local local. Rockhound Brewing Company in Madison is taking that well beyond the fresh ingredients they use in both their craft brews and scratch kitchen; their owner and head brewer was born, raised, and still lives in the same Greenbush neighborhood his new venture is serving.
Nate Warnek, the eponymous “rock hound” geologist and businessman founder, spotted our table taking notes and photos and gave us the dirt on Rockhound’s backstory. After over a decade in the corporate world, he’d decided his passion (vibrant and obvious in his explanations) lay with his homebrewing.
“It was now or never to start something for myself.”
he location for his brewery/restaurant was a no-brainer: Nate knew this neighborhood his entire life, and something the ethno-rich Park Street lacked was a decidedly Americana offering.
“Besides clean, well-made beer, we’re about approachable but upscale comfort food.”
We took the opportunity ourselves to indulge in both that beer and food.
First Dance Citra Session Ale
A floral bed on a very easy-drinker.
Sandstone Belgian-Style Session Blonde Ale
Dryer than expected: I picked up a subtle jalapeno taste without the bite (YMMV).
Solid malt/hop balance.
Batch 3 Extra Pale Ale
Not over-hoppy; easy to drink.
Batch 2 Amber Ale
Leans Brown, drinks smooth.
Batch 1 Brown Ale
“Ooo Katie, you’re gonna like this one.” Juicy, with a whiff of bourbon.
Mosquito Bite IPA
Batch 4 Stout
“It’s easy to start a brewery, but hard to perfect that (needed) quality.”
The name and decor within Rockhound are an obvious nod to Nate’s degree in geology (from the nearby UW-Madison), but his passion and business-acumen are evident in the way he walked us through the food menu. While we tried an experimental brew, his eyes lit up while waiting for us to land on the unique tastes he was aiming for.
24 empty sampler glasses and 6 clean plates later, we’re one of what’s sure to be many parties leaving Rockhound Brewing Company with content stomachs and happy taste-buds thanks to a local boy and his brewery.