In my travels, both near and far from home, I visit breweries and brewpubs. Many of the latter have good food or good beer. Only a few have both. One of the most consistent brewpubs I frequent is the Appalachian Brewing Company. Decent food and good beer, it’s a winner.
The Appalachian Brewing Company has seven locations in Harrisburg, PA, and in South Central Pennsylvania. The Gettysburg Battlefield Location or, as I call it, the ABC, has become quite a part of my life. I’m an avid hiker, and hit trails in the tri-state region of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia year-round. My reward for successfully completing a rugged trail? Lunch and a beer at the ABC. When I visit Gettysburg National Military Park, where do I go for lunch and a beer? The ABC. When I take visitors from out of town to Gettysburg, where do we go for lunch and a beer? You guessed it, the ABC. I have been there dozens and dozens of times in the last few years.
Amongst my many interests, I’m also a Civil War buff. (Hence the many visits to Gettysburg.) On July 1, 2014, I received an email from the Civil War Trust, a battlefield preservation group. The email announced the Civil War Trust’s “biggest gift to the American people,” restoring the building used as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters and the four acres surrounding it to their 1863 appearance. What buildings are on the surrounding four acres? The Quality Inn at General Lee’s Headquarters and the ABC. I was shocked and outraged.
While I’m all about preservation, I’m a beer geek first and a history geek second. Given the number of times I’ve been to the ABC, I really took this personally. Yes, there’s another brewpub across town, the Gateway location, but this lacks the convenience and personality of the Battlefield location. The Battlefield brewpub and General Lee’s headquarters look so similar, and the ABC sign is fairly small, it’s actually easy to drive right past the ABC and think it’s a historic building. The two really do blend harmoniously.
I can understand the Civil War Trust wanting to preserve historic land from future development, but some of the group’s tactics are quite radical. And tearing down a brewpub? That’s where I draw the line. I have resigned membership in the Trust.
The ABC’s last day of business is December 31. The past few months, I made it a point to visit the ABC more frequently, to see what can be done, if anything, to save the ABC, to find out more information about a possible new location, and just to see my old friend. At present, a new location is still being sought.
Gettysburg is a happening town, and there are not a lot of vacant and appropriate sites in the same vicinity. Plus, the liquor license is owned by the hotel, may not be transferred, and, apparently Adams County is not issuing new liquor licenses. If one becomes available for purchase, the asking price is the same as a house.
Last Saturday, I had my penultimate beer, a Pennypacker Porter, and burger at the ABC. Today, I said farewell to my friend with a Fire Starter Burger and a Grinnin’ Grizzly Spiced Ale. All of the patrons with whom I spoke shared memories of the ABC and are in disbelief that it will actually be closing.
My server had worked there for ten years. Will the Civil War Trust find jobs for her and her coworkers? Will the Civil War Trust reimburse the Borough of Gettysburg and Adams County for the lost revenue and tax dollars when the hotel and brewpub close? Perhaps in one of his final official duties, outgoing Governor Tom Corbett will grant a last minute stay of execution.
Hopefully a new location will open in the spring.