Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Visit to G. G. Brewers

I've been trying to get into G.G. Brewers for about six months, without success. I haven't been going by every day, mind you: it's out of my way, not really on my usual run, but I've been stopping in when I'm nearby. First time, I didn't realize they opened at I had a nice lunch at Athena and went home. Next time, it was after 4, late in the week...but they were closed. The next time, the lights were on, the TV was on...and the door was locked. That happened again about two weeks later. I kept trying, because I wanted to get them into PA Breweries 4. I wrote a letter -- no response -- I called -- no answer -- I sent an e-mail -- no answer.

But yesterday Cathy and I were over in Jenkintown to drop Nora off at a party, and I figured, what the hell, it's not that far out of the way...and fifteen minutes later, we were sitting at the bar.  Very small bar, too, and not many tables. It's easily the smallest brewpub I've ever been in: maybe 20, 25 seats. Couldn't see a brewery, but there were kegs stacked to one side of the room. The bartender was friendly, welcomed us, told us we were in the world's second-smallest brewpub (I had no real reason to doubt her!), and asked us what we wanted.

The brewer/owner, Gerry Martin was very much in evidence, bustling around the place. Nice guy, talkative, informative, even pumped about the Pennsylvania wines he had from Galen Glen: "They make wines in the German style," he said, which pricked my ears right up, and then he mentioned that even their sweet wines weren't all that gloppy sweet, and poured us a sample of the Winter Mountain Red (he was right, too: best Concord grape wine I remember having).

But we weren't there to drink wine! We actually already had our beers: Cathy got an Irish Stout (good, roasty, and solid, but we both caught a raspberry flavor in it; maybe the line had been used for a razzbeer before?), and I got the Bachelor Party beer. I was going to order a Pale Ale, but Gerry said if I wanted a hoppy beer I should get the Bachelor Party. Okay, I did, and it was good: clean, hop-flavored, real drinkable, and not overly bitter. The kind of beer a geek wouldn't give a second glance, but the kind that most other craft drinkers would happily neck all afternoon. It was called Bachelor Party, he said, because a group of guys had 'commissioned' it for the wind-up to a bachelor party they were having over the weekend...but they got snowbound in the Poconos, and he had to put it on anyway. Their loss; our gain.

We ordered a round of pot-stickers. I was a bit surprised to find them deep-fried instead of pan-fried, but they were good (dipping sauce was a bit thick, but tasty). The menu was very reasonably priced (especially for Glenside), and covered steaks, seafood, pasta, and sandwiches, with most things under $14.

Just one beer and the dumplings; we had to get home for the dogs, they'd been cooped up for 7 hours at that point. Pleasant stop. I had been in once before not long after they'd opened, and the beer was clean, but...muddled. It's clearly found its way. Gerry has a reputation for not allowing note-taking in the pub (apparently some guy taking notes had berated a server for not knowing enough about the beer -- I'm shocked, shocked to hear that about a beer geek!) and he'd since asked folks not to indulge in that. Well, kinda odd, but eccentricity is hardly unique in the brewing and tavern trade. I'd go back again, especially the next time we go to a show at the Keswick.

Open message: I can do a very simple entry at this point, Gerry, but I'd love to do more. Give me a shout sometime soon! (If you know Gerry, or if you're a regular at GG, please let him know about this. Thanks!)


Tom E said...

"Gerry has a reputation for not allowing note-taking in the pub"

That is awesome.

Anonymous said...

We stopped in there once about a year ago while having some beers at Lush and were told in no uncertain terms by the bartender that taking notes is forbidden. So we left our un-drunk beers on the bar and walked out and won't ever go back.

sam k said...

Seems like their intermittent availability would be a drain on potential revenue in itself. If someone who is really trying to get there can't, they must be relying pretty much on their regulars, ya know?

Lew Bryson said...

I got another comment opposed to the "no note-taking policy", but I'm not posting it, as it went a bit over the top.

Keep it civil, people; this isn't craigslist, or even Yelp, this is my blog. As many Irish pubs say, be nice or be gone.

Mer said...

Gerry is a good friend of mine so I might be biased. The quality of his beers has defnitely stepped up over time, so I suggest giving him another try if you haven't been there in awhile. As for the "no note taking", I don't see why people get so bent out of joint about this. Go in, enjoy the beer and relax. I, too, am a homebrewer and like to ask questions, but Gerry is a small brewer and needs to protect his product too. I hope you all check his place out. Oh, and he is closed on Mondays FYI (that is his brew day). Cheers!


sam k said...

I'll also bet most note-takers can remember the better part of what they wanted to write a half-hour later. We've surely all enjoyed the occasional quirky establishment over the years? I know I have (and continue to)!

bill mc said...

Glad to see you finally made it there.

When I was there, the place was fine but I wasn't enthralled with the beers. (I mean they were fine but unremarkable, in my opinion) Guess haveing been to Earth Bread and Stewarts in the same day must've spoiled my palate.

Used to be an E.J. Korvette's down the road from there. Went there with my folks as a special trip. (my mom went to Arcadia (Beaver College) oh, so many years ago as well, so its got some memories down that way for me.)

The bartender told my wife and I when we were there about the screwed up Mug Club mugs with bad phone numbers, the owner's personal cel number ...

Anonymous said...

It was my comment that went over the top, and I apologize.

I amend my comments to say simply this: it is absolutely NOT awesome. I take notes on every beer I drink, for my own purposes, and last time I checked this was America and I'm free to do so as I please.

I have every intention on going there specifically to take notes, and let's see them do anything to stop me.

(PS. Hopefully Anon 9:50am also left their undrunk beers unpaid for too.)

---Guy said...


"Quirky establishment"

You mean like a place that don't open before it opens?


Bryan Cain said...

I wouldn't call this quirky, I'd call it control issues.

The only other place I know of that actively tried to stop people from taking notes on the beer was Alt Platz brewing in VA. Google them sometime. Not good company to be in.

The Other G said...

On behalf of Gerry, the "no taking policy" was the direct of one very nasty Notetaker who when asked by our bartender what he was writing responded by saying "it's none of your f****ing business". We're not going to tolerate that kind of treatment. That bartender was in tears that evening because of this jerk's rudeness. If you want to write about us after you leave, go ahead. But unfortunately, this industry has a lot of beer snobs who think they know everything there is to know about beer and can be quite harmful and critical to the point of nastiness. Everyone's tastes are differences and what might be undrinkable to one patron is another's favorite beer! Neither of us are big fans of many more popular and famous beers out on the market that have been around for years, but for other beerdrinkers, that's all they want. So why criticize? You only stop potential customers from coming in who might have found that they really like what we have to offer. For a newer small establishment, we've held our own for four years now and have made a lot of new friends who enjoy coming in for a good beer, delicious meal at a reasonable price and definitely good conversation and friendship.
Sorry we can't please everyone, no one can, but we stay firm on the notetaking policy.
"The Other G"

Lew Bryson said...

That's pretty much the story I heard. Thanks for stopping by and giving the background on this.

And...could you drop an e-mail so we could get together for a quick interview? I'd really like to get you in the book, especially after my visit over the weekend, and I'm finishing the manuscript in less than a week!

The Other G said...

Oh, I meant to say a big thank you to Meredith and Derek too for sticking up for us. You guys have been good friends and supporters of us and we definitely appreciate fit!

Anonymous said...

" The other G's sis"
Amen "the other G." It's Gerry's place. If he has rules good for him. It's no different than asking a resturant for their recipe. They won't do it. Best wishes and continued success. Wen

Anonymous said...

So, because one really ignorant rude customer gave your bartender a hard time, you decide to penalize everyone else?

Like i said before, I'm coming in one of these days, and I'm going to take notes in my journal like I do everywhere else. And there's nothing you can do to stop me short of forcibly lifting me from the stool (and I'd like to see you accomplish that, I'm a big boy...).


ok here is an unbiased post ..i never met Gerry or had his beers before my birthday incognito trip after work. wow the guy talked beers and the lcb rule changes . the 5 beer styles were all great and of my personal fav. types .me and another couple from Nj were there to enjoy beer and let me tell ya'll we did .Gerry came from the secret stash 3 times with a lil pitcher for us to sample his finest . the mead was brandy like and well on its way to cognac when done . his triple was to die for .and after a thumbs up he deemed it ready for next weeks unveiling.artist vary in style and think of their work as their children . Gerry is very proud of his work and the styles he shoots for . if you like it ...drink it i rate beers for a couple sites and what i got that nite was all good ....Gerry I get it,much respect thanks!