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Finnie's got hops

Finnie's got hops

Steve Finnie is taking his passion for beer to new heights. 

The Rochester beer maker is finalizing plans for what will become the city's fifth brewery. In an interview this week, Finnie said he has already found a space and hopes to open by next summer.

(He is waiting for the financing process to wrap up before publicly announcing the location of the yet-to-be-named business.)

"We want it to be community-based," said Finnie. "We want it to be a space where anyone is welcome. Because it really is about community. Yes, you’re brewing beer. But it’s really about people coming together, and talking, and meeting new people."

While the brewery won't have a kitchen, it will offer a tap room where patrons can stop in to enjoy a cold one or two. Finnie also plans to invite local food trucks to set up outside.

As for the beer menu, it will likely include a few staple brews, along with a rotating lineup of experimental lagers, ales and stouts.

“We will try to represent quite a few different beer styles and have the flexibility in the system so we can experiment, too," said Finnie. "So you may not get the same beer every time you come in.”

A native of Scotland, Finnie moved to Rochester in 1999 to pursue a career as a physical therapist. It was during his early years here that he began to find an interest in homebrewing.

“I was doing that," recalled Finnie, "and it just became a little bit more obsessive — to the point that my wife [Dawn] said: 'We can’t afford to keep doing this. We can’t drink all the beer you’re making.’ And all I wanted to do is keep making different beers."

To finance his hobby, Finnie formed a beer club — one that still exists to this day — where a dozen or so friends chip in $100 a year in exchange for fresh beer each month. 

Then after 15 years at Mayo Clinic, he convinced himself it was time to take his talents out of the garage. In 2015, he took the leap from homebrewer to head brewer and joined the newly-opened Grand Rounds Brewing Company. He left the business in 2016.

“One of my favorite things is, after a brew day, to come out to the bar and actually talk with people who are drinking your product," said Finnie. "There’s nothing better than chatting with someone who loves the beer you’re making.”

With the addition of another brewery, Finnie believes there is an opportunity to make Rochester a destination for craft beer. 

“People are coming here for more than just Mayo. People are coming here for the weekend to go to the different breweries, and experience that culture," he said. “When they’re here, they’re not going to go to just one brewery. They’re going to go to several.”

Already, Finnie is teaming up with Forager Brewery's Austin Jevne on a Scotch ale. He said partnerships like the one with Forager show that there is room for independent breweries to work together.

“When it comes to collaboration," added Finnie, "this field is like no other I have been in.”

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