Rockford Brewing Co. & Dockside Taproom Serve Up Sporty Fun

A new cool, casual sports bar has arrived at Prairie Street Brewhouse, and it’s just steps away from delicious dockside dining.

(Samantha Ryan photo)

A highly anticipated addition to Prairie Street Brewhouse, 200 Prairie St., Rockford, has arrived.
The Rockford Brewing Co. restaurant now has a new sports bar called Dockside Taproom that serves lunch and dinner seven days a week. The cool, casual bar with 24 taps is located right next to the restaurant’s arcade area, and is also just steps away from the restaurant’s riverside dock, making this new hangout a relaxing place for people to unwind, indoors or out.
“For the most part, I think people like to have a choice of a business-casual restaurant upstairs, or go down to a sports bar and relax a little bit,” says Chris Manuel, vice president and co-owner of Rockford Brewing Co. “You can watch a game, throw some darts, be a kid again and play some pinball, or sit along the banks of the Rock River, which I don’t think has ever happened before in Rockford. It’s unique.”
Opening a sports bar was something Manuel always wanted to do with his co-founders, Reed Sjostrom and Dustin Koch, but Manuel credits the Koch family for coming up with the idea.
“They thought a sports bar would be a great place for all to enjoy,” Manuel says. “Now people are able to have a nice, elegant meal upstairs, go down to the sports bar and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and top it all off with a nightcap on the dock underneath the stars. It’s the best of all worlds in one building.”
Manuel is happy to say that the sports bar carries the restaurant’s full lunch and dinner menus with only some entrée items lacking, so people can snack while they watch a game or dine as they catch up with friends. The well-rounded menu ranges from burgers, sandwiches and tacos to wings, pizza and desserts.
“My favorite is still the turkey club,” Manuel says. “It was on the original menu and it’s still our No. 1 seller.”
True to its name, the restaurant also brews its own beer right on site.
“There are six to seven beers that we have all the time, and then the rest cycle in and out based on the season and what we think would be fun to do next,” Manuel says. “We’ve done around 40-45 styles since we opened.”
He especially recommends the Black and Blue Kolsch, a refreshing beverage infused with blackberries and blueberries.
In addition to the new sports bar, Manuel is excited about the restaurant’s weekly Dinner on the Dock event Thursday nights from 5-10 p.m. Roughly a thousand people come each week to enjoy a buffet-style meal, live music and the river.
“There’s no cover, and people can roam as they please,” Manuel says. “We get a diverse crowd: rich and poor, old and young, basically just a fun-loving group of people hoping to have a good time.”
Dinner on the Dock has a new stage for live entertainment. Family-friendly bands of all genres come from Chicago, Madison and even the local area to start the weekend out a little early, Manuel says. He always wanted to provide this type of event to the people of Rockford.
“This idea of having music, food and beverages along the banks of the Rock River was always embedded into my head growing up,” Manuel says. “It’s great to execute this.”
Looking forward, the restaurant plans to start its own line of pickles and bring back the man-made raft race that used to occur here every July 4.
“The best part of my job is coming up with ways where we can have more fun,” Manuel says with a laugh. He appreciates how open the people of Rockford have been to the Brewhouse’s downtown presence.
“We like to thank Rockford for accepting us into their lives,” Manuel says. “It’s been a welcoming experience to see people come and enjoy what is here.”
Prairie Street Brewhouse is open Sun.-Wed. from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thu. to midnight; and Fri. and Sat. to 2 a.m. For more information, or to make a reservation, call (815) 227-9427.