STORY WRITTEN BY ERIC FITZSIMMONS
@efitzsimmons08 on Twitter
AMBLER >> Changes coming to Forest & Main Brewing Co. will mean more space, more beers and a new menu for customers.
A tasting room will be installed in the building next to Forest & Main, which will give the brewpub more flexibility in terms of what events it can host and how many people it can accommodate, according to co-owner Daniel Endicott.
“It will give us basically everything we don’t have in our current location: a big bar with lots of barstools, probably a stage for some live music and an open space for more special events,” Endicott said.
Though no definite plans for the tasting room have been drawn up, Endicott said, of the 3,000-square-foot space, about half will be open to customers and include 20 to 30 barstools plus a few tables.
The expansion will also mean more beers for Forest & Main customers to enjoy. Endicott said about half the space will be devoted to brewing, with additional fermenters and barrels for aging beer, which will translate to more beers on tap and a larger selection of bottled beers available at the restaurant.
There will be a different feel in the tasting room than in the current building, which is seen as more of a restaurant by many customers, according to Endicott. The open space will be more accommodating for happy hours and weekend crowds. There will be a limited menu available, but Endicott said the beer will be at the center of the experience.
“[It will] offer the customer a much more in-depth experience with the beer; more beer, more attention given to the beer,” Endicott said.
Endicott said Forest & Main has also added a couple more bars to its off-site sales, but the brewpub remains the focus of the business. He said it is selective about the bars it sells to and sees it mostly as a way of getting the word out and bringing people to the Ambler restaurant.
Forest & Main had always planned to expand, according to Endicott. Almost immediately after opening there was no spare room at the brewpub and most of the space was dedicated to the restaurant and customers, which pushed the brewing to the basement.
He said the space next door had been available that whole time and he and fellow owner Gerard Olson kept abreast of any movement there, hoping it would be available when they were ready to move on it.
They signed a lease for the space in September and have been using it as storage space, Endicott said, but now they are ready to renovate and make it functional.
Coinciding with the expansion, some personnel changes will have an effect on the customer experience at Forest & Main.
Endicott said Johnny Della Polla has stepped in as director of operations. Della Polla has had a relationship with Forest & Main since before it opened as a restaurant and was the first to sell its beer off-site at a restaurant he owned called Kennett in Philadelphia.
Della Polla also has experience opening tasting rooms, Endicott said; he worked on tasting rooms for Yards Brewing Co. and Conshohocken Brewing Co. — which is what Endicott said was the reason they sought him out recently — but he will be taking on a few roles, managing the restaurant and representing it with off-site sales as well.
Endicott said Kelly Fischer, who has been with the restaurant, has moved into the chef role and brought a new menu which started earlier this month.
“Just doing a little simpler fare, more-pub-friendly food, a little cheaper than it was before … a little more friendly to a beer-drinking crowd, but still the same quality ingredients and care given to the food,” Endicott said.
A brunch menu has also been added to coincide with earlier opening times on the weekends — something Endicott said customers have been asking for — starting June 20.
The tasting room is scheduled to open in the fall, and Endicott said the goal is to have it ready for Ambler Oktoberfest, currently slated for Oct. 3.