Of the Rolla Bars, the Public House Rolla Brewpub may be the one that stands out the most. Forgoing the sports bar setup of all the other bars, the Public House instead opts for a more carefully decorated interior. The mixture of hardwood, industrial steel, and rustic accents and fixtures gives the Public House the appearance of a hip coffee shop, a trend in microbreweries that is overdone in cities like St. Louis, but a welcome respite from the small town bars here in Rolla.
The Rolla Public House Brewpub is where the Public House Brewing Company started brewing its beer, and is referred to as Public House’s “R&D” brewpub, an affectionate homage to the university culture of the town and announcement of the experimental brews that they produce here seasonally.
The Public House certainly does not hide the signs that their beer is brewed here; behind the bar the large industrial brewing equipment looms, serving as a constant reminder that this is the lab where beer is perfected.
Although the machinery is clearly visible, the bar room remains cozy. The elevated booths across the bar provide the perfect level of privacy. The music choices mirror the hip decoration and cement the Public House as great place to hang out. When I went in for lunch, the music shifted from punk rock to jazz, eventually settling on Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, the perfect soundtrack for a relaxing but productive lunch.
Because of time constraints, I had to plan my meal for eleven, right after opening. When I walked into the bar, there was a small group already enjoying their lunch break, and as I ate lunch the bar would slowly fill up with a group of regulars.
I decided to sit in one of the booths, choosing a table painted with a portion of a map of Middle Earth, another nod to the culture of S&T. After a moment of studying the carefully painted map, I covered a section of Mordor with my laptop and started to do homework.
The Public House is almost the perfect place to study for people who like a little bit of noise and a cold drink while they work, but they also serve a variety of food. It is more expensive than the other bars, but the menu offers a variety of sandwiches and farm fresh pizza, each listed with a recommended beer or wine pairing. I opted for the Ruben Panini, and ordered the recommended pairing, the Revelation Stout.
The stout arrived first, presented in a stemmed glass. The beer was a dark chocolate color, with a small foamy head. It is one of Public House Brewing Company’s permanent choices, and it deserves its spot. The beer has a thick texture and breaks up the light bitterness with hints of coffee, despite not being brewed with coffee beans. It is one of the best dark beers in the United States, rivaling Founders Brewing Company’s Porter.
The heavy beer was the perfect pairing for the Reuben Panini, which consisted of corned beef, sauerkraut, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese, topped with thousand island and pressed between two slices of delightfully flavorful rye bread. When he presented the sandwich, the waiter helpfully warned me that I would need more napkins. As I took the first bite, I realized why. The sandwich was stuffed with seasoned meat and toppings. The result was amazingly tasty blend of salty beef, the briny crunch of sauerkraut, and the creamy combination of Swiss and thousand island. Unfortunately, nearly as much ended up on the plate as in my mouth.
For a side, I chose the soup of the day, a delightfully hearty stew with rice, chicken, and spicy sausage. It complimented the Reuben by acting as a milder counterpart to the intense flavors of the sandwich. It wasn’t long before I cleaned my plate, full and happy to sip on the remaining beer as I finished homework.
I was very surprised by both the atmosphere and the quality of food at the Rolla Public House Brewpub. The sandwiches at the Public House are likely the best in Rolla, earning it a place among the top restaurants in Rolla. Additionally, the Public House’s warm atmosphere and careful decoration cement it as one of Rolla’s best places to hang out for study or just drinking with friends.
The Public House Brewpub has frequent live music and trivia every Monday. For more information visit publichousebrewery.com.