SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Originally opening in 1997 on Main Street – where Delaney’s Irish Pub is now – Spartanburg’s RJ Rockers Brewing Company arrived at their current location on Main near Daniel Morgan Avenue in 2009.
Founder Mark Johnsen has been there since day one. He said the first step was arriving at a brewery name.
”My business partner when we started, his last name begins with the letter ‘r’. My last name is Johnsen. We’re from Glen Rock, New Jersey. It’s a town named after a rock that we’re very proud of. So, RJ Rockers,” he explained.
Arriving at the building, the attached silo gives away what goes on inside. That silo that holds malt for the brewing process holds up to 47,780 pounds of it.
It has six year-round brews, and a host of seasonal beers and rotating specialties.
The first beer they ever brewed, Downtown Brown, is known as Brown-Eyed Squirrel today.
Their best-selling beer is Son of a Peach. A beer that was supposed to be just a summer seasonal offering, according to Johnsen.
”We thought a peach wheat beer would be a great, refreshing summer beer and it just caught on,” he said.
Another one of their beers, Good Boy Stout, has a special meaning to Johnsen and many long-time visitors to the brewery.
“My dog was named after a beer, and then our beer was named after my dog. Stout was basically our company mascot for almost 13 years. He started working for Rockers three days after we got him at the age of eight weeks. And he was here until just days before, unfortunately, we had to put him down,” he said.
RJ Rockers has been in Spartanburg about a quarter of a century, making it Spartanburg’s oldest microbrewery. From the beginning, they have made sure community involvement would be a big part of their business.
“We have a very special relationship with the Charles Lea Center and the foundation, which helps people with special needs and disabilities right here in Spartanburg County. We’ll be having our 23rd annual golf tournament coming up in August,” Johnsen said.
RJ Rockers assists in fundraisers for other organizations throughout the year.
They also strive to be a “green” brewery, doing their part to assist the planet.
It is a multi-faceted approach: solar panels heat their water, used grain becomes cattle feed and they recycle everything they can. The end of glass recycling in the area several years ago prompted a change to using cans instead of bottles.
It’s all a part of what makes RJ Rockers a Spartanburg institution.