Photos by Louis Garcia
For over 100 years, medical doctors across the world have participated in a time-honored educational tradition: grand rounds. The weekly meeting of medical professionals and students is a discussion of new diseases, methods of diagnoses, and the latest medical science for treatment.
It’s a meeting of the minds that former Mayo Clinic physical therapist Steve Finnie grew to admire—so much so that he and Tessa Leung named their brewpub after the tradition in hopes that it too would be a place for conversation and learning.
Grand Rounds Brewpub, the seven-barrel brewery and restaurant opened in April and is Rochester’s first brewpub in nearly 20 years. It fills the space of Leung’s former restaurant, Söntés, in the Historic Third Street building—a bittersweet decision, says the restaurateur and sommelier. But the prospect of opening a brewery in Minnesota’s third-largest city is full of promise.
“People are really excited,” says Finnie, Grand Rounds’ head brewer. “People know the building. I’ve been doing market research and people are ready for this.” The Mayo Clinic consists of more than 33,000 doctors, residents, students, and medical staff in Rochester, a portion of whom are international transplants like Finnie, a Scot, searching for good beer.
When Finnie left his home country of Scotland for Rochester in 1998 to work at Mayo Clinic, he took up homebrewing with a friend from Wales to recreate beer styles not available in town. Over the years, Finnie honed his recipes and, in 2013, approached Leung, whom he met at a dinner party years before, with the idea for a brewery. Though it fell by the wayside for a time, last July Finnie got a call the day before a trip to Scotland from Leung, who asked him to open the brewpub with her.
The two took on a small investment group to fund the venture and set out on renovating the historic building to support the weight of the seven-barrel brewing system and four seven-barrel fermenters. Now, the 140-person dining room and bar is serving classic American and European beer styles. Of course, Finnie will make sure there’s a pint of good Scottish ale in the taproom, perhaps poured from the pub’s cask-beer engine.
The brewpub’s executive chef is Alex Sjoberg, formerly of Söntés. He has put together a menu of classic Midwestern fare, like tater-tot hotdish, and British favorites like Scotch eggs and chicken tikka masala. Each dish is crafted to pair with Finnie’s coconut stout, kölsch, or Hops Bollocks Session IPA—all on sale in pints as well as growlers.
Brewer: Steve Finnie
Beer: Hops Bollocks Session IPA, Hawaii 507, Coconut Stout, Minnesota Kölsch, Freedom Scottish Ale, and rotating selection
Visit: 4 Third St SW, Rochester, MN
Hours: Mon–Sat: 11am–11pm; Sun: 10:30am–2:30pm
Online: Facebook page