My weekend started a bit early last week. Not in the sense that I didn’t work on Friday, but in the sense that I went out for a beer on Thursday evening. I don’t often go out on a work night, but I happened to be out at a Meet-up Group when I got a text from the Maestro. He was also out at a gathering and wanted to stop at the Green Flash/Alpine Takeover being held at Gainesville House of Beer.
Since it was on the way home from my location and since my head was swimming with all of the information I had received at the meeting I decided a beer was not only in order but would help me to sort out some of the afore mentioned information. That’s as good an excuse as any to sample new beers. Besides, one of the things that Gainesville House of Beer does very well is a Tap Takeover. There is always a good variety of the beers that a particular brewery has and they always have some nice swag to give away.
By the time I had arrived the Maestro already had a beer in front of him, Alpine Brewing’s Duet, which he was rather satisfied with. I was also glad to see one of my favorite Beer Servers on hand, Kat. If you haven’t see any of my other comments about Kat then you should know that she is one of the most knowledgeable beer aficionados around, as well as a very charming young lady.
The Maestro had already had an Alpine Brewing’s Hoppy Birthday, which he was also very fond of. But I started out with the Duet instead. It had a hoppy aroma and flavor with a slightly sweet after taste. While we worked on these beers, Maestro and I caught up with each other.
After a bit we were ready for another. Maestro selected a Green Flash Soul Style IPA and I had an Alpine Brewing’s Captain Stout. I liked it, it had hints of coffee and chocolate, but had an aftertaste that I couldn’t identify. It wasn’t as creamy as most stouts are. It was good, but probably not the best stout I had ever had. The Maestro had realized he had sampled the Soul Style IPA before but increased his rating this time from 3 to 3 ½ stars (out of 5) on the Untappd app.
We talked some more then decided to end our night with that round. We stuck around long enough for Maestro to win some swag. I mentioned to Maestro that I had read about a new local place in the paper that was where the “Brew Spot” used to be. He agreed that it sounded like a good idea for a Friday Happy Hour and left it to me to pass word on to the group. We said our goodnights and headed out.
At Mid-day the next day I sent out a text to our band of beer connoisseurs to meet at Public & General around 5 PM. Maestro replied that he was trying to get rid of a cold, which I had noticed him coming down with the previous night, so he would have to pass. Rowdy wasn’t sure she could make it as she was taking Abuelita to see the doctor, (Note – this is not our beer swilling friend “The Doctor”). I knew the Doctor was working this weekend, and that the Chemist and the Deck-orator were on a beach weekend. I did not hear from the Cooler and Rowdy didn’t know yet if he was coming or not.
By the time 5 PM had arrived I was pulling into the parking lot at 1000 NE 16th AVE. The last time I had been at this location it was called the Brew Spot and it was a little different. As I recall, the idea for that business was a local café that served tea, coffee, craft beer and wine. And it served food as well. The food was okay and the service the same. The layout was kind of a hodgepodge of a reading lounge, a small restaurant and a back dance hall. The hall was also used as a little community center where the owner tutored young folks in math. While the concept had a very altruistic intent behind it, from a business stand point it is very difficult to run a business that way without a very strict business plan. I don’t know that is the reason that Brew Spot closed, that is just a supposition based on limited observation and rumors.
Now that it has re-opened as Public & General I saw differences as soon as I walked in the door. The front portion, which was formally the lounge/bar/café/restaurant/kitchen, has been transformed into a little market/bistro. On the right are some racks with various wines and beers available for purchase, as well as some coolers with more variety of both. On the left is a refrigerated case with cheeses and a counter with a register. Behind the counter is the kitchen, which is the same location it was when it was the Brew Spot.
The big room in the back which I referred to earlier as the ballroom (for lack of a better description) has been transformed into a large bar room with a large “L” shaped bar and a few tables for dining. Behind the bar are shadow boxes displaying various bottle of wines and beers. Off to the right as you walk into the bar is a little cubby/sitting area with a settee and a couple chairs. That seemed a little out of place to me but if you decided to have a band or DJ set-up these items could more easily be moved out of the way to allow that.
I had read in the paper that Public & General had a wide selection of wines and that they featured European brand brews. This was true and I sat at the bar and ordered a Veltins Pilsner, which was on tap. Veltins is a German Brewery, and while I had this one before I thought it tasted better this time than the last. But I selected it because the other beers on tap (there are only 5 taps) were just a bit heavier in flavor and I wanted to start lighter. The other beers on tap were Doc’s Cider, Tucher Franconian Dark Lager, Unibroue Le Fin du Monde, and Unibroue Raftman Pale Ale. They also had over 20 other bottled beers listed on the menu, many of which were European or a European style of beer.
While I was supping this cold brew down I started talking with another patron who sat at the bar. He was a local resident from the neighborhood and seemed very glad that they had opened the place back up and was pleased with the changes.
Rowdy called me and said she was coming and bringing Abuelita with her. They had spent some time at the doctor’s office and were both hungry. She asked me what they had for food so I read the menu to her. She told me she would be there soon. After I hung up I informed the lady behind the bar that I would be joined by others and asked if it would be a problem for me to move to a table. She said it wouldn’t be and that when we were ready to order we could just come up to the bar to order. So I sat at a table and checked my phone for the usual social interaction while I waited.
Rowdy soon showed up with Abuelita in tow and they sat at the table with me. I explained that food and drinks were ordered at the bar and they would hold your credit card for the tab. Rowdy went to the bar and ordered a water for Abuelita and a Southern Star Brewing’s Bombshell Blonde for herself. I had finished the Pilsner by the time they sat down so I ordered the Tucher Franconian Dark Lager.
After we got our drinks we went back to the table to look over the menu (see picture below). They had three sandwiches, three salads and half a dozen sides to choose from. Abuelita wanted a sandwich so she ordered a brisket sandwich. Rowdy ordered a pasta salad, and I went for the hamburger and a side of house fries. Rowdy and I went back up to the bar and placed our food order. Then we went back to the table and caught up with each other. Abuelita filled me in on her doctor visit and how she was doing. After a little bit of catching up with all three of us the food arrived.
Abuelita was surprised at the size of the sandwich and said she would not be able to eat the whole thing. And it was a sizeable sandwich coming served on a hoagie roll. Rowdy’s pasta salad came out in a large stainless steel bowl. She asked for another bowl so she and Abuelita could share their dishes. My burger and house fries came out just after their dishes. All three of us enjoyed the food. I particularly liked the combination of toppings on my burger. And I really liked that the fries came with a side of mayo for dipping, German style.
Over all I was very pleased with our visit to Public & General. And I think Rowdy and Abuelita would agree with me. I sent a text to Maestro telling him to inform his wife, Muse, that they had a large wine selection so she could join us there some time. Abuelita asked about their hours because she wanted to bring her friends for lunch sometime. I would have liked to talk to the owner and find out if they were going to rotate taps or just use the beers on tap all the time but he was busy with customers and I didn’t want to interfere.
We browsed around the market a little before we left and when Rowdy saw the cheese plate on the chalkboard menu she said “Oh cool! That will be great for a to-go box.”
On of the folks behind the counter replied that the owner was really good and paring wines with different cheeses and could make recommendations for those kinds of things.
Overall this was a good experience. The staff was friendly, the food was delicious and the wine and beer selection was really good. The layout when compared to the previous business is much better. I got the feeling that the owner knows his wine and beers pretty well, but I couldn’t tell you how knowedgable the rest of the staff is on them. It wasn’t a large menu but what they did do they seemed to do pretty well, which is more important than having a larger selection. I recommend stopping by if you get the chance. I know I will go back again.