Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Brew Lounge Request for a Friend in Need

I don't ask for much from you around here. I've never asked for donations and never will. That said, it's time that I ask you to spend your money in one particular place. If you are a lover of good, well-crafted beer then I believe that you will agree that the future should have the General Lafayette Inn & Brewery in it. If you appreciate history and landmarks, then I believe that you will want to support The General. If you believe that good people who do good things should not be cast aside by unfortunate incidents and accidents, then you should want to help support the Leonard Family of the General Lafayette. I've pasted the contents of an e-mail that has made its way into numerous other websites/blogs that you may have already caught wind from. You can read the details below. Chris has always been straight forward, almost to a fault, in person or in his blog, that I wish he keeps posting to. Whether you decide an investment of $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000 is appropriate for your situation, I have a simpler request of you. Consider it a back-to-school project. In other words, beginning today and before the end of summer, you must make it a high priority to: - go to The General more often---if you currently go once a month, go twice. If you've never been, go once in July and once again in August. Go for dinner, take the family or go with a group of friends. Have a full dinner and a couple of brews. - when you go for a meal, make sure you take home a growler of fresh beer with you. We all know that there's nothing better than beer fresh from the brewery. - buy packaged General Lafayette beer for take home or to give to friends. Their beers can be found at distributors and at the pub. Buy the Abbey Brune or the Abbey Blonde. Or better yet, buy the recently bottled Chocolate Thunder, one of the first beers to make me appreciate The General for what it is. So, let's sum up the homework. Once in July and once in August (or more, if you can)---Keep The General in business by going for a meal. Buy a growler to take home. Buy packaged product to drink at home and share with friends. Convince others that they should go and support The General as well. You don't want to sitting here in October saying "ah, it's a shame..." now do you? We can all do our part...and should.
The General Lafayette Inn and its Guest House are in jeopardy of closing. Stiff competition, limited resources, and the failing economy have contributed to a steady decline in revenues over the past 16 months. While beer sales have remained relatively stable, our food, wine and liquor sales have decreased to the point that we are finding it almost impossible to maintain operations. Past due mortgages, property taxes, payroll taxes, and accounts payable to vendors have pushed the General to the precipice. Unless we raise significant funds in the next two months - to get current with our debtors, improve facilities, increase wholesale beer production, and increase our marketing efforts – closure is imminent. While we have solicited sale of the General, no offers have come – understandable in this economic climate. Any offer we do receive will likely come from a party uninterested in the history of the General. It could become the next Wawa or CVS. Even more likely is that we will face foreclosure, allowing a developer to more easily acquire the properties and demolish the 5th oldest tavern in the country. The General Lafayette Inn consists of two properties and three buildings. It’s most recent appraisal (2007) valued it at just under $2.2 million. We are a family owned operation. I, Brewmaster Christopher Leonard, am the majority owner. We desperately seek to avoid losing the General Lafayette Inn and the fate that would befall it if we do. So, we are soliciting equity investors to become silent (or not-so-silent) partners in this unique local treasure. Generally speaking, we are offering stock in the General Lafayette Inn for approximately 1% per $10,000. We will consider partners for as little as $5000. You would gain a small piece of history, pride in preserving the past, and a heck of a lot of delicious beer in return. We are also starting a special “Friends of the General Lafayette Inn Society”. We are looking for up to 150 passionate local beer and/or history lovers with $1000 to invest in our past and good beer future. In return you will receive an annual $275 house account each of the next 5 years. This can be used for any goods or services. We will host an annual members-only event and dedicate the oldest portion of the building to the Society, displaying each member’s name. In the meantime, know that operations at the General Lafayette Inn will continue as normal. We continue to produce new, innovative beers (look for a kriek soon). We have a new chef, Oliver Munguia. He has made some interesting changes including hand cut fries, house made pickles and has shown an attention to freshness, quality, and consistency that the General has lacked for some time. Please contact me at, or stop in to speak with me, for more details/information. We understand how untraditional and risky this approach is. However, we are steadfast in our belief that the General Lafayette Inn is worth it and willing to do just about anything to protect its future. Very Truly Yours, Christopher W. Leonard, Brewmaster/Proprietor General Lafayette Inn & Brewery


Lutton said...

got one question about the growler: can I bring my own empty growler? Places that force me to buy their growler first annoy me.

Nate said...

If I lived closer, I'd visit often. I really enjoyed my visit in January and would hang out at a place like this. I wish them the best of luck and hope they're still open the next time I'm out that way.

kmudrick said...

I recall a certain someone organizing a General Lafayette Sunday morning beer run one day about a year ago. I'd love to join if that sort of thing happened again.. in fact that's where I met David April of Fishtown Beer Runners! I bet a bunch of other FBRers would be down for a weekend run around the General.

Bryan Kolesar said...

okay, now I know for a fact that you and I must be like minded. That'll be an "event" that I plan within the next couple of weeks. Just working out the details...back to you all soon...thanks for the prodding, Kevin.

kmudrick said...

Sweet, looking forward to it!

Ric Hoffman said...

Dear Lutton,
I don't know the growler policy at the General. But are you kidding me? Is that really your first reaction to this post? Will you really not go if they ask you to buy their growler?

Thanks for your continued support of the industry. We hope we're not annoying you.

Ric Hoffman
Head Brewer
Stewart's Brewing Co.
Bear, DE

Lutton said...

Actually Ric, I'd love to go, although it's not geographically convenient to me. I'd be even more interested in going if I could get my growler filled. But I doubt I'll buy a growler if they want to make me buy the container too. I already have a few from all the support I give the industry.

As for my growler refills, places like Grey Lodge Pub which gladly refill any growler are few and far between. They earn my support by not gouging me for equipment I already own.

kmudrick said...


Pretty sure there seem to be some sorts of weird PA laws regarding places that brew their own beer having to have their "bottles" labeled properly - this includes growlers. This is why a lot of brew pubs in the area make you buy their own growler. I know brewpub owners have chimed in on in the past after similar complaints.

Pretty sure I heard someone explain that the General lets you swap though - if you bring in a Manyunk growler, they will take it and give you a General growler, and swap with the other brewery behind the scenes. Not 100% sure on this.

Lutton said...

Yeah,I've yet to find a definative answer about that. A lot of places imply that it's out of their hands, but I've yet to get anyone to state it as fact.

If that is in fact the case, then it changes the scenario a little. A swap offer is very helpful. Although what might be useful is a paper label, just like with bottles (and kegs for that matter).

Chris Leonard said...

This is all moot, as we don't actually have any growlers in stock (all suppliers seem to want to paid in advance, and we just can't swing it. It's a vicious cycle). We will gladly fill any growler at this point.

Any and all support is welcome and greatly appreciated.

Cheers and thanks,
Christopher Leonard

Anonymous said...

Please have your turkey chilli ready when me an dteh wife go, she love that chilli

I will also bring my growler.

Bryan Kolesar said...

Chris, thanks for chipping in with your growler policy.

And, to all others, stay tuned for The Brew Lounge's first attempt to keeping The General in fighting shape.

A Run For The General should be announced later tonight.

Get those growlers ready.