Ever eager to experience the growing roster of local breweries – Forest and Main in Ambler has long been on my list – having first sampled their IPA at the memorable Kennett in South Philly with Franklin from Yards a few months ago.
Alas, I found that Forest and Main wasn’t open until 4pm – so took that opportunity to run a few minutes north to find Round Guys Brewing’s new brew pub in Landsdale. It’s a little tricky to find RGB’s pub as it’s around behind the pretzel factory, but within you’ll find a truly huge bar, and some very interesting German inspired and other off the wall brews. These include “Alpha Blackback” clocking in at 82 IBU and 7.5% IBV – a very dark IPA indeed – and Sticke Blonde a surprising twist on Kolsh at 6.2% abv.
Brewer/part owner Rich DiLiberto says he is enjoying the local beer excitement, and is just getting his pub’s kitchen going “it’s been hectic”. When asked if Round Guys has a flagship beer – Rich says “no – not really – we brew what we want.” That’s a good thing from what I can tell.
Tooling back south to Ambler, I finally wandered into the old 19th century house that is the Forest and Main brew pub – and found a truly entertaining array of inventive British and Belgian inspired brews – mostly with ABV under 5%.
Beers included the tasty “malt forward” dark Belgian style at only 3.5% – “Dover to Dunkirk” laced with Brett wild yeast , and a really nice Belgian Farmhouse style “Solaire”. (A coincidence that the vibe at F & M is quite similar Ardmore’s wonderful “Tired Hands”? I don’t think so – as when I was chatting with Jean from Tired Hands about F & M he suggested I try the “Solaire” as a fine farmhouse ale – really!)
There were some really fine an inventive Bitters and at least one IPA – the deceptively smooth “Kinch” 7% ABV on the handpump. I enjoyed every glass I could safely sample before returning south to the Ardmore area.
Brewer/ part owner Dan Endicott was at the taps when I arrived (he decidedly NOT a round guy) and shared that things at the pub were exceeding his expectations. “Local people and people from all over are coming in. From the City they take the train out and love it here”. I asked him if there were any surprises – he said “I was amazed to find that people really liked the sour beers…Folks who say ‘I don’t like beer’ try the sours and really like them!”
With truly exceptional beers and a small menu of notable food (See Craig LeBan’s review), Forest and Main is worth waiting for – and driving to. A must for beer appreciators in the Philadelphia region.