A Day in the Brewery with Joel Will

Tucked away in the back of the brewpub resides our mad scientist, Joel Will. Joel concocts our unique small-batches on the 7-barrel system at Buffalo Road. His latest? Honeybush Amber Ale, Cran-Apple Gose, and Hop Harvest Ale–just to name a few. We recently spent some time with him while he brewed Great Hiveminds, an English Golden with local fall honey from Davis Honey Co.


Q: What are you currently drinking (besides Rohrbach, of course)?
A: Some of my current favorites: Trophy’s El Hombre Stout, Westbrook Gose, and Lynwood Brewing’s Mosaic Pale Ale.

Q: What would you like to see for the future of Rohrbachs and the industry as a whole?
A: I think the trend towards more localization is exciting. Distribution caps out, there’s only so many beers you can put on a shelf. But every neighborhood can have its own brewery. Breweries are becoming an integral part of their community. Our customer base is very local and connected, and that’s something to celebrate.

Q: What’s coming next?
A: Great Hiveminds is what I’m brewing today. It’s a light and sessionable British Golden brewed with local raw fall honey. Unlike the more floral summer honey, fall honey has a darker color and imparts richer fruity and caramel-like flavors to the beer. I’ve also got a classic brown ale in the works.


What are your goals for the future?
I’d really like to master the NEIPA style (New England India Pale Ale). It’s more challenging than people realize–a good NEIPA needs just the right water composition, just the right timing of hop additions, ect.

We are so proud to have Joel working his magic in the brewery. These small-batch brews are available exclusively on draft at Rohrbach locations for a limited time. Next time you order one, make sure to ‘give your compliments to the chef’!

Q: How did you get started brewing?
I started working for Rohrbachs as a server and in the tap room about 6 years ago, and soon expressed an interest in brewing. I was lucky to learn the trade with first-hand experience from our brewmaster at the time. When I moved to Raleigh for a short time, I brewed at Deep River, but came back to Rohrbachs when we moved home to Rochester.

Q: How do you find inspiration for all the different beers and styles you’re making?
A: A lot of my inspiration comes from food and other drink. Like the gose–I love cran apple juice and thought it’d be a perfect fit. I also build off activity of the industry; that’s the great thing about the sheer number of breweries and competition. Everyone’s trying to push the envelope on creativity.

Q: What’s the beer you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
A: I’m proud of different beers for different reasons. I’m really happy with the Cran-Apple Gose because it came out exactly how it was intended. That’s not always the case –there are a lot of happy accidents in brewing–but this one really hit the mark on my intensions.

...every neighborhood can have its own brewery. Breweries are becoming an integral part of their community.
— Joel Will