By Nate Johnson
When the owners of Rural Oaks Plaza purchased the strip mall, the storefronts were over half-empty. The addition of Rural on Tap has not only filled a gap in the mall but it has helped to fill a niche for beer-lovers in a big way.
Since opening in early November, owners Nick Fosberg and Derrick Kunz have brought a comfortable, upscale bar to the neighborhood and have recently been putting the spotlight on some of the Midwest’s finest breweries.
Starting in February (or, as they punnily coined it, “Feb-Brew-Ary”), they have offered twice-weekly “Meet the Brewery” nights, featuring such local luminaries as Pig Minds, Generations Brewing and Lena Brewing Company. This Wednesday Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery will wrap up this round of brewery nights as they bring their Fixed Gear and Lakefront IPA along with some rare treats for the occasion.
Inside the modern, inviting bar, patrons of all walks will find something to satisfy their thirsts and whimsies.
Besides their 14 frequently rotating taps and extensive bottle and can list covering both familiar favorites and the newest crafts (and a staff of bartenders who are often spot-on with their recommendations), the bar also offers a full cocktail menu, from classics to their own house twists, as well as an array of wines. Food is not available in house, but can be ordered in.
Since Fosberg and Kunz opened the doors, the crowd has not stopped filling Rural on Tap. A wide variety of nightly activities helps keep the house packed as well as the faces fresh, from Monday’s board game night and Tuesday’s pub trivia to special events such as the recent Revolution tap takeover, featuring the popular Chicago brewery’s offerings on half of their taps, including such standouts as Very Mad Cow, their barrel-aged milk stout and Straight Jacket, a barrel-aged barley wine.
Rural on Tap also presents live acoustic music every Thursday night. In the near future, they will be hosting the following: The Lukewarm Club, Thursday, 7 p.m.; Geonarik, April 2, 7 p.m.; and Kelly Steward, April 9, 7 p.m.
Whether you’ve not yet ventured in or you’ve made frequent visits, make a point to check out one of Rockford’s truly special new spots. Rural on Tap is located at 1710 Rural Street. A calendar of events as well as a frequently-updated beer list can be found at their website, ruralontap.com.