A newly-launched event during Marietta’s annual Rivers, Trails, and Ales Festival is the RTA Beer Fest. Back for its 2nd year, RTA Beer Fest will feature over 15 regional breweries, a variety of local food trucks, live music, activities for the kiddos, and much more.

The first year of RTA Beer Fest packed 300 locals and festival-goers into East Muskingum Park to taste 42 beers available from 12 regional breweries. This year, 500 ticket holders will have the opportunity to choose from over 50 beers available from 15 breweries; the growth is an indication of the level of excitement produced by those passionate about support small business, local brewers, and unique community-based events like this one.

In celebration of good beer and great fun, Clutch MOV has partnered with the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival to spotlight the 2019 lineup of participating Beer Fest breweries.

Brewery: Royal Docks Brewing Co.

Location: Canton, OH

Interviewer: Jeremy Stackpole, RTA Ales Director, with questions provided by Gavin Fury

Interviewee: John R. Bikis, Royal Docks Brewing Co.

When did the brewery open? Our original brewery and taproom opened in September 2015.  Our productions brewhouse and cannery opened in 2018.

You are uniquely positioned amongst many of your peers, claiming to eschew both the growth-and-distribution model and the hype that can be leveraged from measured obscurity in favor of an American iteration of British pub culture. How do you feel this approach has shaped the Canton beer scene? We focus on clean, good quality product that we feel the consumer will appreciate. While we haven’t really jumped on the HAZE CRAZE, we know that quality is always king.

You describe your primary goal as sharing good beer that doesn’t necessarily cater to “eccentric tastes.” How does this philosophy guide your portfolio of beers which range from the fairly traditional to the currently fashionable? We want to make sure our core product is always consistent but also approach rotating and seasonal products with some fun and creativity.

Your Pendragon Welsh RareWit, which utilizes a blend of herbs and spices in place of hops to balance the malt, won Gold in its category at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival. Has success of this magnitude garnered from an unconventional brew inspired you to explore more beers in this vein? Our brewmaster Dave Sutula loves the style and brewing with spices. This beer is unique as most of those spices are traditional to the English countryside. At times it can be difficult to tell the story and explain the style to the end consumer looking at hundreds of 6-packs on a shelf.  This style is very unique to Northeast Ohio and the area as it also covers the holiday spiced beer such as our Yuletide Christmas Ale.

Given your affinity for British pub culture and inclination to not stray too far from tradition, do you have any interest or intention to produce cask or real ale in Ohio? Yes. It’s something we love doing and used to do but have had to stay away from lately due to state regulations and how a product needs to be registered before served. It’s difficult to register a product, wait for the registration, and then release a single or a couple of casks on a Friday.  I wish it was easier but it’s not and so we tend to end up staying away from it because of the regulations which make it difficult.

Despite your stated lack of aspiration to become a “regional 6-pack phenomenon,” you do package and distribute. Where can people find your beer? We should probably change that…Yes, we love it when people tell us “I found a six-pack of yours” here. Currently, you can find us across the state at Giant Eagle stores, and many other regional chains and smaller stores.

What draws you as a brewery to want to participate in RTA Fest? Great setting but best of all great people!

Do you plan to participate in any events other than the beer festival? Which ones? I am not aware of the details but I understand our local brand representative Harrison will be involved in other events during RTA Fest.

The 2nd annual RTA Beer Fest will take place on Saturday, August 10th from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in East Muskingum Park on Front Street in downtown Marietta, OH. Tickets are now on sale! More information can be found by visiting www.rtafest.com.