Vacationing in Rochester



My husband and I had a date night on Friday and though we didn’t leave town we felt like we were in a vacation destination.  What is happening to our town? A lot!

We headed downtown to Historic Third Street and started with a light dinner at the Grand Rounds Brewing Company. This place brews their own beer, but also have a couple “guest brews” on their menu. We found that they really do know how to make good beer. I had the FREEDOM SCOTCH ALE which they aptly describe as, “They can take our lives, but they’ll never take our Freedom! Hints of Scottish flavors of biscuits and toffee with toasted caramel and a hint of smokiness. We use Fuggle hops for earthiness but they take a backseat to let the malt backbone shine through.” Okay, I have no idea what a Fuggle hop might be, but this beer was very delicious. It was smooth, tasty, and at 7.6% alcohol, had a bit of a kick.

My beer was rated as 11.1 IBUs. So, I had to study up on IBUs. Maybe learning more about that rating would lead me to better beer choices in the future? Doing some web searching (while we waited for our meals) we learned that the IBU is the International Bitterness Unit, a standard similar to the EBU, European Bitterness Unit, in which beers are rated for, yes you got it, bitterness. The higher the number, the more bitter the beer. The methods for determining the ratings are different between the IBU and the EBU, but basically, if you like bitter beer, you would look for high ratings on both scales. I’m not a big fan of IPAs so was not surprised to find that IPAs often have the highest ratings, for example 70 IBUs+ for the IPAs that Grand Rounds brews. As I go forward in my quests for new favorite beers, I will keep the IBU in mind and confirm whether a lower number really is a clue that it is a beer I will like.

I took a sip of my husband’s HAWAII 507 COCONUT STOUT and it was very drinkable. Described as, “A taste of the islands right here in the land of 10,000 lakes. We toast coconut and add bourbon vanilla beans in the conditioning tank to create this smooth, rich, chocolatey coconut stout,” I found it a little too heavy on the coffee flavor, and lacking on the coconut and chocolate flavors. I’m not a coffee drinker, so am always wishing for a chocolate-inspired beer that doesn’t also taste like coffee. This didn’t fulfill that wish. If I hadn’t already become enamored with my SCOTCH ALE, I may have enjoyed the COCONUT STOUT more. This beer was 6.1% alcohol and rated at 18 IBUs.

We enjoyed our beers with pub food. I’m not sure there is anywhere else in town that my husband could have ordered “Banger and Tatties” and I was thinking how great it would have been if this place had been here when my Scottish boss had been making frequent trips to Rochester a few years back since it is right across the street from his preferred hotel and they have Scottish Eggs on the menu.

After the Grand Rounds, we went next door to the Tap House. I am embarrassed to say that it took me this long to make it to the Tap House. It has been a popular spot since it opened a few years ago. We were on the hunt for dessert. They had a few items on the dessert menu including mini donuts. For some reason that was exciting to me, so we got an order of them and also some oatmeal cookie/chocolate ice cream type dish of decadence. I wasn’t very hungry so I concentrated on the mini donuts which reminded me of being at Rochesterfest or a county fair. The Tap House is not known for their food though, they are known for their beverages. They have an extensive craft brew list with something like fifty brews on tap. I ordered the Lakefront Cherry Lager ABV (5.42%). I’d had this at the Craft Brew Expo back in May, and it was the winner of the favorite beer award this year. It was one of the last beers I tasted there, so I couldn’t really remember if I’d liked it that much, so I decided to give it another try. I think I may have found a summer beer that I really like! The beer was crisp and light, with just enough (and not too much) cherry flavor. By the way, another acronym to learn is ABV, or Alcohol By Volume. For example, the “ABV (5.42%)” designation for this beer. My husband ordered a Ciderboys Peach. Ewww! Very tart! It was a bit overpowering on the peach flavor and almost sickeningly sweet. We’ll stay away from that one. We enjoyed our dessert and beverages on one of the Tap House’s rooftop bar areas. Very urban. Is this Rochester?

From that rooftop bar we could look up and see that Kathy’s Pub has an even higher rooftop bar. Kathy’s has been around for a long time, but I’d never been there, so we climbed stairs (and climbed and climbed) to get to the roof. Once up there we discovered there was an elevator. This is an important thing to note for potential future visits. This is a no frills, no craft beer, down to basics bar, type place. Happy hour was still going on so I got two Captain Morgan/Diets rather that the one I thought I was ordering. No grand stories to tell about the beverages, but it was really fun to be enjoying a drink several stories above our city. We left there and browsed the vintage clothing store on 3rd Street then walked up 1st Avenue to the Peace Plaza. We perused the art gallery recognizing at least a couple of the artists’ names as people we know, then walked around the mall a bit. The stores actually stayed open to 8 p.m. I personally think it would be better if they stayed open until 9 or 10, to keep things active there longer on weekend nights, but 8 is at least better than the past when things shut down at 5. In any case, we were able to get a couple truffles from Chocolaterie Stam before they closed the doors for the night, so all was well.

I’m sure that we would have had a different, and perhaps even livelier experience if we were not old people who started their adventure before 6 p.m., but in any case, we were impressed by the amount of activity going on downtown and excited for the possibilities that await our city as it grows and downtown once again becomes a focal point.

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