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Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery

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Rock Bottom Restaurant and BreweryRock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

7900 Norfolk Avenue
Bethesda, Maryland, 20814
United States

(301) 652-1311 | map

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Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 30
Photo of rjd722
3.68/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.75

I live right around the corner from this Rock Bottom. The Rock Bottom franchise holds a special place in my heart because I was very close to the King of Prussia, PA one when I was in college; we would go there after classes and during the Philles 2008 World Series run. Anyway, this location isn't so bad either. All the beer is pretty average overall, but it's always interesting to try their seasonal offerings and it's cool they use local brewers. The food is hit-or-miss depending on what time of day you go, earlier in the day the better. It's a nice spot to grab a drink after work, the bar area is nice and tucked away from the primary restaurant area.

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Photo of drtth
3.68/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.25

The opportunity to have a few dinners here during a recent meeting in the area.

Food very good with excellent service.

The vibe is nothing special as its basically a restaurant.

None of the house brewed beers were particularly exciting so most of the time my selection was from a short but well chosen selection of bottled beers.

Go for the food.

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Photo of Rootdog316
3.7/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I am very familiar with Rock Bottom's all across the country. This is the first time I went to the one in Bethesda. We went out early for a happy hour on a Saturday night and the place was packed. We decided to go upstairs to a small bar up there, but got no service. Finally went back downstairs to the main bar and I ordered their sampler. The beer is pretty decent, although a few of them are rather lackluster. It is a decent brewery and worth checking out if you are in the Bethesda area. But I would recommend going to Gordon Biersch in Rockville or the Rock Bottom in Arlington instead.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.73/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Situated in a bustling shopping/restaurant area in Bethesda. Once you walk into the restaurant it is dimmly light but you get the large and spacious feel. There is a bar to the right side - very large area with tvs propped up and funky pictures throughout. The dining area is spawled throughout and there is small outdoor patio near the corner of the restaurant. Additionally, thers is a large space upstairs with pool tables and dart boards + there's a bar there too.

They have about 6-7 brews on tap all quite good and quaffable. Service is usually good and sometimes frustrating during busy times. The bartenders here are cool and laidback. The food is good here - I am quite partial to the buffalo wings here! They have specials throughout the week and do host bands from time to time. Good times here. Old Chicago and DC Chophouse are all under the same management as Rock Bottom.

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Photo of Bradthoc
3.7/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Not a bad place, but then again, it is nothing special.

The atmosphere is great, especially in the Spring, Summer and early Fall when there seems to be more events going on.

The beers are alright, you have a basic selection of Rockbottom's Red, Lager, Brown, Wheat, Dark, and Seasonal. Been here a dozen times or so and the routine is the same. I mix up my choice every time, and get 2-3 rounds on a casual night. The beer is never served with a foamy head, and is usually to the brim of the glass or over flowing. Strange how the brewer hasn't shown the bar employees how to properly pour a beer, yet.

Despite that downfall, the food is good, the beer isn't bad and the service has always been exceptional with waiters and waitresses letting booth/table guests partake in bar area only specials.

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Photo of Chaney
3.88/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I met a friend who was in town on business and felt like a couple of beers close to his hotel (Bethesda Hyatt).

A: Very nice. The lighting is soothing, the bar area inviting, and the place is spacious.

Q: The beer isn't amazing, but very drinkable, and the food is upscale bar fare. The beer sampler was very generously proportioned indeed.

S: While not exactly a beer connoiseur, our waitress had a good grasp of what brews were the most popular, had sampled many things on the menu and had firsthand knowledge on what dishes were good and which were not as sought after. To be honest, the service was a bit slow and it took forever to get my second beer, however, the place was packed and the waitress apologized for the delay. I can deal with that!

S: Beer-wise, most of the standard styles and well as a few seasonal ones were represented: stout, pale ale, light lager, octoberfest, scotch ale, and many others.

F: The pizza I ordered was fantastic! The crust was cooked perfectly, with just the right amount of brick oven flakiness, and the sauce and the rest of the ingredients were top notch. Also, the guacomole burger my buddy ordered looked fantastic.

V: The massive beer sample was only $5 and the food was reasonable. My friend's burger (which he ate every bite of so it must have been good) was around $10 and my very filling 12" pizza was about $12. Perfectly priced!

This would be a great all-around happy hour destination if you happen to be in the area.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.68/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Popped in here for lunch. Its a Rock Bottom for sure. Big bar lots of table seating. Its OK.

Atmosphere (I'm still working out my beerfly review style) - Place is a corporate bar with booths and lots of tables and a long bar where they serve 7 of their beers and liquor as well as some crappy macros. Eh, I guess they are playing to a lunch drinking crowd mostly, kind of disappointing. There really isn't anything to give this place character but its a corporate place in a corporate part of town, what did I want really?

Beer is pretty good, as well as food, but again its just average stuff. Nothing that challenges you but that's not their goal. They are achieving what they want.

My server (I sat at the bar) was cute and super nice. Even talked to me about beer for a few minutes.

Like I said, 7 beers on tap (although they had 8 taps) and two casks, liquor wine and macros. Selection was fine. Price was reasonable.

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Photo of nickd717
3.25/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 2 | food: 4

So, now that my nomadic parents have relocated to Bethesda, this was a pretty easy spot to hit when I was in town last Thanksgiving. I had some good beers from Rock Bottom Chicago at GABF, so I though maybe this place would be decent. It ended up being pretty...well...meh. Only 4 of their beers on tap (pretty sure they had BMC too, which is blasphemy for a "brewpub"). I believe the beers were a light lager, amber ale, pale ale, and stout. Great, guys, way to fit the exact stereotypical beer lineup for a mediocre brewpub. I had the sampler. The beers were all right around average in quality. Food was pretty solid, mostly typical pub food. The scene was all right. Definitely a younger crowd, which I enjoy since I don't consider myself a geezer quite yet. Prices are about what I expected. This is not a bad place overall. It's just not really much of a beer destination.

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Photo of Waltwvu
3.63/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Never had a bad beer from them. They are always solid and have yet to disapoint. They may not be the most adventurous brews but a good year round line up.

The food is also quite good. Both the lunch and the dinner menus are diverse and tasty. But if you are going for a few beers its a great place as well. The bartenders are well versed in both their own beers and offer suggestions based on your tastes if you are not sure.

The one caveat is the service during lunch. It is a big restaurant so getting a table is not much of an issue but being served is. Often you are left waiting to put a drink order in. The food comes out slowly and has even been wrong. The dinner service is much better.

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Photo of xenolithic
3.83/5  rDev +8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Recently I found myself on a house hunting trip in Maryland. So, without a house and spending nights couch surfing at my friends place in lieu of a pricey hotel stay I came home each night pretty much starving. That being said, once my girlfriend made it in town for her own interviews we found ourselves in Bethesda looking for a good place to eat. We drove by several expensive looking establishments (Lebanese Tavern and several bistros) and settled on the Rock Bottom Brewery.

It was only later that I found out that it was a national chain, but after doing more research it seems that yes, there is a brewer on premises and they make their own beers on site. Overall the place had a nice ambiance for younger couples, guys nights out, etc. The place is decorated in a fashion that best shows off their beers, giant wooden casks, kegs everywhere, banners with their awards listed.

The food was good, nothing to really rant and rave about, but I would certainly go there again. I had the Rock Creek Pale Ale with my Jumbalaya and my girlfriend had the Lumpy Dog Lager with her steak. The steak was not of the greatest quality but only she expected it to be. I enjoyed the Rock Creek Pale Ale and would gladly have that any time. However, the Lumpy Dog Lager was fairly watered down tasting and not so enjoyable. The bill was reasonable and I even met up with some alums from school who were unwittingly 2 tables over.

Overall impression was that it was a nice place and I'd gladly give it another try. But being new to the area, I'm sure there are many more options for me to check out.

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Photo of TLove
2.88/5  rDev -18.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5 | food: 2.5

Decent value, good atmosphere, and mediocre service. But the real draw to this place is the young crowd.

The food is not bad. I've had some good foods (the quesadillas are awesome) and some really bad things (entrees, any of them). The beer is mediocre, too. Many of them are watered-down and very dry (particularly their stout). The names are bland and appropriate and it is a welcome break from the usual bud light, miller lite, etc. taps in most places.

Service isnt great, but then again, it depends on who you get. Some servers are meek and inexperienced and some are great and have a cold one ready for you the second you sit down.

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Photo of 86sportster883
2.55/5  rDev -28%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 2

I stopped in the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Bethesda for dinner, hoping for a good meal and a better beer. I also wanted to catch the final period of the Capitals - Rangers game. The Bethesda Rock Bottom has a decent bar area with several flat screen TVs. I pulled up a seat at the bar and asked for the menu. On tap was a light, a pale, a brown, a red, a stout and, I think, a Wit. Not an impressive selection, but it had potential.

I ordered their Raccoon Red along with an order of their Fish & Chips. Both sucked. What sucked even more though, was having to listen to the bartender who spent the entire time I was there (no exaggeration) rambling on like some caffeine cranked school girl. He was just going on and on, babbling to the two guys sitting next to me (who he appeared to know). This would have been easy enough to ignore if the guy wasn't such a complete tool.

I'm sure this place is probably better than the rating I've given it above, but not on the night I visited. If you're in the area, I suggest you just keep on going. You're bound to find someplace better.

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Photo of macpapi
2.84/5  rDev -19.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3

The Bethesday Rock Bottom is not a typically small, cozy brewpub-type environment. Instead it is housed in a huge building, with several rooms and two floors. It has a certain quality that speaks of 'too much going on', with multiple t.v.'s and relatively loud music. This type of atmosphere leads me to believe, rightly or wrongly, that beer is not at the top of its priority list as a restaurant/pub. It seems okay as a place to watch a game or meet up with a group of friends, but a location to enjoy a fine made craft beer and converse with others it is not.

All of that is fine, as there are many different types of atmospheres that can work for pub environment and I don't begrudge the bustling kind. What really bothers me about this place is the beer. It is completely watered down and mediocre. The Pale Ale is alright, with a good deal of citrus and hop presence, but nothing overwhelming. And that is the best of the bunch. All of the others are completely unchallenging. They are made for the masses unwilling to try anything with too much flavor, at least in my opinion. The generic names even seem to indicate this penchant for striving toward nothing too extreme or memorable. Brown Bear Brown Ale, Raccoon Red Ale, Stillwater Stout....Yawn. Many aspects regarding beer selection and quality certainly point to the chain brewpub nature of this place.

Selection is routine with six handles, one being seasonal and five standard brews. Two of the six were on cask, a bit of a redeeming factor. One must ask though, if the beer is poor all around, how much redemption does this distinction really offer? Service was pretty normal, with nothing great or bad to report. They were pretty quick to get your order when the place was slow, less so when busy. In all, this is not really the place for someone seeking distinctive and/or interesting craft beers. If average and non descript beers are fine for an outing, then Rock Bottom would be a good place to go. Their beers are certainly better than macro types, and if you have the choice between going here or somewhere that only has BMC, certainly head to the RB. If not though, seek out someplace with a bit more to offer.

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Photo of RoySaves
3.75/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

I have only sat in the bar area with a regular Mug Club member, so I'm sure that skews my impression. That being said, I've been here several times and have really enjoyed myself. The waitstaff/bartenders keep our glasses full and are friendly.

I attended a beer/cheese tasting here that I thought was awesome. The tables were way overcrowded with people and plates, but I thought it added to the intamacy of the event. We arrived early to get our seats and were served a couple of pints without being charged extra.

I do wish there were more selections, but what they have is certainly drinkable and if you hit them at the right time, downright frugal.

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Photo of SusurusIgnoramus
3.15/5  rDev -11%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 2 | food: 3

Went here last night. I was really excited because I didn't even know there WAS a brewery in Bethesda. Later through this site, I found out it is a national chain, which after my experience, didn't suprise me much.

First, the beer was mediocre to me. They claimed their Brown Ale was "medium bodied" but it seemed light bodied. Ther brown grew on me slowly as I drank it, but I still wouldn't seek it out. The Red was slightly better, only because it had a moderate hop profile, and I love me some hops. Still, I wouldn't seek it out. My girlfriend ordered the light lager. I wasn't expecting much of it, but at the same time, I was expecting something better than Miller Light. Nope. Tasted EXACTLY like Miller. Then she ordered the Pale Ale. It tasted much like the Red, except not quite as bitter. I didn't try the Stout, but I doubt I was missing out on much. They also had real ales and a Belgian Dubbel that they don't have regularly but I wasn't willing to spring for it.

Next, the food: We weren't that hungry, so we decided to order a couple appetizers to split and a side salad each. Big mistake. There was nothing "side" about the salad, and the appetizers were enough for 5 people! Despite the large portions, the food was decent, but nothing to write home about. We got the calamari, and the chicken quesedillas. The calamari was a bit on the soggy side, and the quesedillas a bit too greasy.

And last, service. Our waiter was nice enough. I think he was new because he seemed a little nervous and wasn't extra knowlegable about their beer selection. But, I can forgive him that. Foolishly, I spilled one of my beers (it was only my second, so I wasn't drunk of anything) and four or five employees walked right over the spill without a glance. I did clean it up myself the best I could with our napkins (I hate making other people clean up my messes) but it still took a while for anyone to notice and grab a mop.

So, overall... mediocre across the board. Though, the atmosphere was quite nice. Dark wood tones, and they had big windows looking into a couple of the brewing rooms which was cool.

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Photo of franksnbeans
4.05/5  rDev +14.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This is a great place is looking for decent food and good craft beer. There is a local brewer who does very well with the Rock Bottom regular selections and many special brews. The mug club is great as you get special updates and invites to private tastings. This turns into a bar atmosphere on weekend nights and often have a live band. The food is decent and above average bar food. This place is worth a visit if your in town but shouldnt be a "must stop" if your in the DC area. Ive been here many times and will most likely be back.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.03/5  rDev +13.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Rock Bottom is a national chain; however, each location has its' own brewer. Bethesda RB has Geoff Lively, who has always brewed some good quaffs (for any Bud drinker who may have stumbled upon this site, "quaff" means to leisurly drink with pleasure). In addition to the year-round offerings. which consist of a light lager, pale ale, bitter, nut brown and stout, Geoff currently offers a Pacific Northwest Pale Ale called American Dream on cask. Very smooth and pleasant. In any case it is delicious. Everything else is pretty much down-to-earth; I do like their pizza and the menu changes frequently. RB Bethesda also offers events for Mug Club Members (of which I am one). I mean it's Bethesda, where else can you go for decent beer?

UPDATE (11/7/07): Geoff Lively took home a Gold (Brown Bear Ale), a Silver (Fire Chief Ale) and the Bronze (Right-On-Rye) from the 2007 GABF. Congrats!

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Photo of gun1now
4.45/5  rDev +25.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I had to travel to Bethesda overnight on a business trip and searched the BeerFly for a brewpub in the area and Rock Bottom turned out to be just 2 blocks from my hotel.

Atmosphere: Went in after work, arrived at 6:45 pm on a Thursday night. Bar was PACKED!! Reason for this probably two-fold: $1.50 happy hour pints of the 5 staple beers and the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament was just about to start. I didn't really have to wait too long to get a beer as the bar tenders were pretty attentive and responsive for such a large crowd. I drank about half my beer while waiting for a stool to open up at the bar then I sat down and promptly ordered 2 more happy hour pints just before it ended at 7 pm. I was firmly planted right in front of 2 HD LCD TV's at the bar each with a different game in the tournament on. I was very happy with my surroundings at that point.

Quality: I came in not expecting great things because some of the other reviews weren't that great. I was pleasantly surprised though by the quality of the beers and how they stayed true to the style they were supposed to be. After happy hour ended I started ordering some seasonals which included a Belgian Dubbel, much to my delight. Again very true to the style and great malty taste with the classic clove, banana undertones common to Belgians. Next I went with a cask-conditioned Stillwater Stout. It smelled like a terrific coffeehouse latte and tasted even better. This was my favorite beer there.

Service: After trying the coffee stout I told the bartender to give my compliments to the brewmaster. He did and the head brewer, Geoff, came out and talked with me for a bit. He's a nice guy, very knowledgeable, and has a great attitude about beer-making. Being a homebrewer myself he gave me a few tips. After deeming me a worthy beer connoisseur, he opened a not-for-sale bottle of some of his Christmas brew and poured us a glass. It was a more spiced and slightly stronger version of his Dubbel with orange and coriander flavors coming through and it was very delicious.

Selection: Good selection. 5 staple beers. 2 seasonals. 2 cask-conditioned versions of 2 of their staples so 9 beers in total. Wide range of styles. 7 ales and 2 lagers which is great for me since I much prefer an ale to a lager, generally. Something for every beer drinker though.

Food: My aunt & uncle live in the area and met me for a late dinner around 9 pm so I already had over 2 hours at the bar with no food in me so I was pretty tuned up by the time it was time to eat. Nevertheless, my steak was pretty darn tasty as far as I can recall.

Value: I would have given $$$ but the $1.50 Happy Hour pints of craft brew bring it down to $$. If you're able to catch Happy Hour at Rock Bottom it is very hard to be disappointed.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with this place and I had a great time. Meeting the brewer was a nice surprise as well. I highly recommend this Rock Bottom if you are staying in Bethesda.

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Photo of akorsak
3.5/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I stopped by Rock Bottom with my wife, son, brother-in-law and his girlfriend. The hostess tried to give us a 15 minute wait despite the fact that 30-40% of the dining room was empty (ominous start).

Atmosphere: The restaurant is wide open, with a bar on the right of the entrance and upstairs and dining in the rest of the facility.

Quality: They will only fill their own growlers!!! How outdated. I really liked the Right On Rye, but I don't need another empty growler, so screw 'em, I won't buy their beer.

Service: Our waiter was adequate. He delivered appetizers before the meal and kept our beers full.

Selection: The beer is good with 6 selections available (but no cask-conditions).

Food: The menu is pub grub. With those low expectations, the nachos were good but the hickory burger was not. Go for the beer not the food (and don't go for the beer if you want a growler).

The prices are reasonable and, having visited, I don't think that I am in a rush to return. Better to head north on I-270 and go to the Dogfish Head Alehouse.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
2.96/5  rDev -16.4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3.5

This was my first Rock Bottom experience and I wasn't terribly impressed.

I stopped in on the night of a Georgetown game in the NCAA Tournament so I figured the place would be rocking and, while the bar area was packed beyond belief, it was also a dead, lackluster crowd. What gives? The dining area (where we eventually sat) was just as dead. I couldn't understand it.

Quality and selection was nice. Six brews were on tap and there was one cask. I would have liked a few more styles but was content with what was offered, and having an IPA on cask was nice (or so I thought it would be...see further down). Brews were all in pretty good shape as well.

The service, whilst friendly, was pretty bad...and slow! Our waiter greeted us promptly but then took forever to bring out the brews and the food. After finishing up eating I ordered a cask IPA, only to wait, and wait, and wait...for nothing. He continued to bring Food and drinks to his other tables but neglected us, not even giving a glance for me to catch his eye to ask where my beer was. When he finally came back, he didn't even remember that I had ordered a beer, simply asking if we wanted anything else. I said I guess not and we were presented with the check, which he took back with a credit card but then once again took forever to return to us, instead chatting with other servers by the host station. Unacceptable.

The brews were decent enough here that I'd bite the bullet and return and hopefully be able to just sit at the bar and receive better service. If there's poor service again, there's no way I'd go back a third time. If you're going for great atmosphere and stellar service, stay far away, but if you're going for decent to good brews, it's at least worth a shot.

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Photo of TheSarge
3.25/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Rock Bottom Brewpub wasn't too bad. It was nice to finally visit an American place such as this, since in Korea they don't have crap for a brewpub. The atmosphere was typical of a standard brewpub. It was well kept and had a cool vintage look. The quality of the brew was about average and they had a decent selection of various types of brew. The service was lacking, however. The waitress was not attentive at all, and we always had to constantly flag her down whenever we needed something. She also compared their stout to their current seasonal, "Right on Rye" (which seemed to be a type of pale ale). Saying they closely tasted the same. Obviously she's not a Beer Advocate. The food was great and reasonably priced. I'd give this establishment another try, but my expectations of this place were a little too high.

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Photo of poluti
3.6/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3

I went here while visiting my old stomping grounds in Rockville. I enjoyed the atmosphere, but it was slightly skewed seeing that I was visiting with a friend who I hadn't seen in awhile. The overall quality was great. I couldn't review a beer because I was upstairs with too much noise on a Friday and the constant pool playing. The service was very good, then again the guy I was with is a regular. I found their selection to be average, yet the bartender was very considerate and seemed knowledgable. I can't say that about the servers that served us, however. I find Rock Bottom's food to be average and a little expensive given how average I find it to be. However, a lot of my friends love Rock Bottom's food, so it's really a toss-up. I thought maybe it's because I was ordering the wrong food, but I was wrong after sampling my friend's. I will probably go back when I'm back in Bethesda.

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Photo of jaluria
3.7/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

I've been here a number of times and it's a cool place. My biggest complaints are as follows:
1. only 5 regular brews plus one seasonal are usually available. A few more styles would be great.
2. over-crowded on Fridays & Saturdays
3. no bartender in the upstairs lounge by the pool tables before 5pm.
4. the crowd is a bit on the pretenious side; as is typical in yuppy Bethesda

Overall, I like going here. They have a great happy hour (5:30-7pm) on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. All pints are $1.50. It used to be $1 pints, but they changed it a few months ago. The food is good and the atmosphere is relaxed and upbeat. I've had slow service on more than one occassion, but normally it's pretty good. Finally, the prices are reasonable considering the setting. Definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of hungryghost
4.13/5  rDev +16.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I have had pretty much every beer on the menu. They recently added a cask conditioned flavor. Be sure to ask about it. The beer is always fresh and of good quality.
The service is friendly.
The menu has a pretty wide variety of selections and there is usually a suggestion of which beer would go well with certain dishes. The portions are large and the food is tasty.
The bar can get pretty crowded and loud around the weekends with bands playing.
I have not been to any other branches of the chain but several of them won awards at a festival I attended in Chicago so they must be doing something right.

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Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Bethesda, MD
3.74 out of 5 based on 3,214 ratings.
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