{In our efforts to spotlight each Columbus-area brewery, we’re sending Doug Oldham to visit every brewery’s tap room. In the coming months, he will attempt to regale you with his experiences. Doug’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the CCBA.}

When I think of a bar, I essentially think of Moe’s Tavern. It’s a dimly-lit hole with little or no natural light. There are neon signs hawking fizzy yellow beers. It looks and smells smoky (my mental pictures of bars are several years behind the law). There is a hint of a stale beer smell in the air, or worse if you use the restroom. It’s kind of gross. Many of us are more or less fine with this atmosphere. Think of Homer, Lenny, and Carl begging Moe not to upgrade his bar. “Oh, but Moe, the dank! The dank!” But what if there were a nicer atmosphere in which to drink beer? It turns out there is, just half an hour southeast of Columbus at Rockmill. Recently, Laura, the kiddo, and I teamed up with another couple with an infant, and we all headed down to Lancaster to have a picnic on one of the last warm weekend days of the year. Can you imagine picnicking at Moe’s?

Rockmill Brewery Picnic CCBA

After enjoying a pleasant scenic drive through the back roads off of 33 – take your Dramamine if you get carsick, cuz it’s a hilly, wild ride – you find yourself in a secluded paradise. My first stop was the tasting room to pick up some beers. This is not your ordinary bar. It looks like a ski lodge, both inside and out. There are high vaulted ceilings and a huge stone fireplace, which is incredibly inviting if you come on a snowy winter weekend. Paintings of horses cover the walls to honor the property’s history as a horse farm. There is a rustic feel that makes you imagine that people have enjoyed Belgian-inspired beers here for a hundred years, even though the brewery is only about five years old. There is a large communal table where a group of friends can gather for a beer and cheese tasting. Not a single neon sign to be found!

Rockmill Brewery Lancaster, Ohio

Rockmill Brewery Tasting Room

When you belly up to the bar, you have the choice of ordering full 750 ml bottles or draft beer by the glass. The beer list has steadily expanded in the few years Rockmill has been open, and there are about 15 choices of Belgian-inspired beers made right there on the property. I grabbed two bottles and my friend Ted did the same. I selected the Witbier and the En Plein Air Belgian-style pale, and Ted picked up the Dubbel and the Saison, and we headed outside to meet our families.

Rockmill Brewery Beers

If having a tasting room that looks inviting enough to vacation in weren’t enough to set Rockmill apart, the property on which it sits is completely unique from any other brewery I’ve visited. Ted and I walked away from the tasting room and down a hill and found ourselves in a large meadow overlooking a pond. A charming old chapel sits on the edge of the meadow near the woods. There are acres of space, ample room to throw down a blanket and have a picnic completely out of earshot from the nearest group of patrons – something good to remember when you are self-conscious about your young children bothering others. We popped the corks on our bottles, unpacked our cheeses, cured meats, and fruits, and had the most delicious lunch. The Witbier was my favorite offering, light and effervescent with a subtle taste of coriander. It was exactly the right beer for a picnic on a warm, sunny day. We may have helped ourselves to a second round of bottles from the tasting room afterward – it doesn’t matter, don’t worry about it.

Rockmill Brewery Pond

After a few hours, the sun was getting low in the sky and it was time to leave. It was so nice that I wish we didn’t have to go. In the future, we may not have to, as Rick Armon has reported that Rockmill intends to add a restaurant and boutique hotel to the property. The only thing that could make drinking at Rockmill all day more pleasant is being able to follow it by drinking there all night! Until that day comes, I will enjoy my day trips there, beer in one hand and hunk of cheese in the other, with no dank required.