Io­cal brew­pub, sweets shop make Best of Philly list

The Ambler Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Eric Devlin

Philadel­phia Mag­a­zine has re­leased its an­nual Best of Philly list and out of the 34S se­lected win­ners from across the re­gion, two are lo­cated in the Ambler area.

Se­lected through on­line bal­lot, the mag­a­zine named For­est and Main Brew­ing Co. best brew­pub and The iit­tle Bak­ery the best place to find gluten­free sweets.

The mag­a­zine picked the bar be­cause of the set­ting and the qual­ity of beer.

“It’s as if your friends took over their par­ents sic­to­rian and turned it into a re­ally great bar,” the ar­ti­cle reads. “A re­ally great bar serv­ing such ex­cel­lent craft beers that you might never want to leave.”

io­cated at S1 k. Main St., Ambler, For­est and Main is a rel­a­tively new ad­di­tion to the Ambler scene. The bar has only been open since the mid­dle of April and has been mak­ing waves throughout the community.

For­est and Main coowner de­r­ard Ol­son said he and fel­low owner Daniel Endi­cott hadn’t heard the news about the writeup un­til some­one posted it on their Face­book page.

“We were just kind of like, ‘Whoa,’” Ol­son said. “We had only been open a cou­ple months and we weren’t even re­ally ex­pect­ing to be in the run­ning for some­thing like that, so we were re­ally sur­prise and su­per ex­cited about it.”

Ol­son said the idea for open­ing the bar came from Endi­cott, and af­ter a few beers, the team de­cided to pool their re­sources and make the idea a re­al­ity.

He said he thinks they were picked in the mag­a­zine be­cause of the “unique vibe” and be­cause of the un­usual lo­ca­tion inside the con­verted sic­to­rian.

Orig­i­nally, the idea was to open up inside of an old ware­house down the street but the build­ing turned out to be in need of too many re­pairs and of­fered too much space, Ol­son said. When the re­al­tor sug­gested the house, the two own­ers doubted they’d be able to fit.

“We did the math and found that it could all fit and it seemed that it would fit with our vibe more than a big clunky ware­house,” Ol­son said. “We just kind of went with it and let the house be­come what it wanted to be.”

The bar of­fers a large se­lec­tion of old world style ales and a sea­son­ally in­spired menu. Brew­ing of the beer is done on site.

For­est and Main opens Tues­day through Sun­day at 4 p.m and the kitchen opens at 5 p.m.

The mag­a­zine said it liked The iit­tle Bak­ery be­cause of the qual­ity of the baked goods de­spite the gluten-free dif­fi­culty.

“Bis­cotti with just the right tex­ture, crunch and fla­vor are hard to come by,” it said. “De­mand that they be gluten-free, and the task seemed nigh im- pos­si­ble — un­til we found the as­sort­ment here, which were so good that event the gluten lovers in the of­fice couldn’t stop eat­ing. Our other fa­vorite: the de­li­cious mint-iced choco­late brownie, which are moist and rich and left us lick­ing our lips.”

Owner John Rorer said the bak­ery, lo­cated at 921 Pen­l­lyn-Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, makes ev­ery­thing from gluten-free cook­ies to spe­cial oc­ca­sion cakes fit for 100 peo­ple.

“The main change is to re­move the wheat flower,” he said about the gluten­free con­ver­sion, “which most prod­ucts have now, in ex­change for a mix of a rice flour, a potato starch and a tapi­oca flour.”

Rorer said the change in recipe may give the treats “a lit­tle grit­ti­ness be­cause of the rice flour” be­cause the rice isn’t ground as finely as a wheat flour would be. He said bak­ing makes it a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent be­cause of the lighter tex­ture.

Rorer said he’s been in busi­ness for two years and caters to a di­verse clien­tele in­clud­ing lo­cal schools. The men­tion in Philadel­phia Mag­a­zine has left his phone con­stantly ring­ing, he said, and busi­ness con­tin­ues to grow through word of mouth.

Hav­ing worked in the busi­ness for 35 years, Rorer said about seven years ago cater­ing cus­tomers be­gan ask­ing about gluten-free prod­ucts, which sparked the idea for the store. He said he didn’t have a kitchen that could seg­re­gate out the dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents at the time, but with the new kitchen he’s able to keep food “un­con­tam­i­nated.”

He said bak­ing time is the same for gluten-free prod­ucts, but did men­tion that cakes may not rise as high with gluten-free mix as they nor­mally would.

The iit­tle Bak­ery is open Mon­day through Satur­day at 9 a.m., though due to de­liv­er­ies, Rorer said it is best to call ahead to make sure he will be there.

Gazette staff pho­tos by BOB RAINES

Ger­ard Ol­son, co-owner, stands at the hand-pulled taps at For­est & Main Brew­ing Co., which has been named Best Brew­pub in the Best of Philly is­sue of Philadel­phia Mag­a­zine.

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