I generally won’t talk much here about anything that isn’t local. The Rock Bottom Brewery is an exception.
This brewpub, located on the west bank of the flats, has some of the best “bar food & beer” happy hour specials (and beer specials in general, really) that you will find in downtown Cleveland. And though the Rock Bottom is a chain, as far as the beer in concerned, each location has its own brewmaster that crafts each recipe specially for that location. (James and I made friends with Cleveland’s brewmaster, Gerry, the last time we were there. He even gave us a tour of the facilities and walked us through the brewing process.)
I am all about the happy hour at the Rock Bottom Brewery:
- 4-8 PM Mondays-Fridays.
- $3.25 pints (Rock Bottom brews only — in fact I think that’s the only beer they have), house wine and well drinks.
- $5 appetizers and pizzas (any app or pizza on the menu, full-size).
- Each month, the Rock Bottom has a special happy hour party when they tap the new seasonal brew. Pints of the new beer are only $1. (The next one is Oct. 15 when they’ll be tapping the pumpkin ale. I’ll be there.)
In addition to happy hour specials, here are some other sweet deals offered by the Rock Bottom:
- You can get a sampler of every beer they have on draft for about $7 or $8. It’s a really fun, affordable way to try the different brews and choose your favorite.
- If you buy a large Rock Bottom glass (it’s like 22 or 24 oz) for around $6, you can have it filled for $3 anytime for the rest of your life… as long as you A) don’t break it and B) remember to bring it with you.
- 64 oz growlers (to go) are only about $10, and anytime you bring it back for a refill it’s only $6.
- If you get a (free) mug club card, you get rewarded for frequent visits, and also receive email updates with special promotions and event information.
So… how is it?
James and I have been to the Rock Bottom twice recently — first for a random Friday happy hour and, because we had so much fun, we returned less than a week later for their Rocktoberfest tapping party. Each time, the staff was super friendly and fun to talk to, the food and beer were good, we didn’t spend a ton of money and we left smiling. (Actually, after the Rocktoberfest night, James left smiling and wasted, but that’s a whole other story.)
On the beer front, I tried the sampler and with the current brews, and I’d recommend the Rocktoberfest or the seasonal brown ale (if I recall correctly, it’s cask-conditioned).
Side note: I will readily admit that the Rock Bottom does not make the best beers in the world. We’re not talking Stone, Dogfish Head or Bell’s here. However, they do make good beer, and some of the brews — particularly the seasonals — are quite tasty. And they are all very reasonably priced.
As far as food is concerned, James and I have shared each of the following $5 happy hour dishes:
- Brewery Nachos (plus guacamole, which adds $1.50 but is totally worth it). Pretty standard bar nachos but I like them because they come with refried beans and real cheese instead of the liquid stuff. Also, it is a very generous portion. We even shared with friends and still didn’t finish them all.
- Ball Park Pretzels. I love soft pretzels, and am often disappointed in them because I do stupid things like buy them from vendors at ball games and fairs when they’ve been spinning around in a glass box for hours. These, however, are awesome — cooked in a fire and spritzed with the brown ale to make the salt stick, crispy outside, soft inside and served with spinach-cheese dip. There’s something almost sweet about them (I think it’s in the dip) that goes seriously well with the saltiness. Also a really large portion, of two ginormous pretzels.
- Seared Ahi Tuna. This is a total steal for the $5 happy hour price. The tuna is peppered and seared well to leave it quite rare. I really loved this dish because the fish was so fresh. Also, maybe it’s because I don’t often eat meat but I think it tasted like steak (James even agreed, kind of). It was served with an asian-style slaw salad that was fresh, crunchy and a great compliment to the fish. The portion size was quite reasonable.
If some weeknight, you’re looking for a good bar food and beer at a great price, and nice people to talk to, check out the Rock Bottom Brewery’s happy hour. And if you do, please let us know what you think!
Image courtesy of the Rock Bottom Cleveland’s Facebook Page.