South Glens Falls lost more than a bar and a brewery last night.
It lost a building block of the community.
Common Roots was an unlikely bar – it was mostly a brewery, but the taproom drew in people who would never otherwise peer into the stainless steel web of brewery pipes.
Maybe it was the fact that a father and son built the brewery by hand, together, reusing an old warehouse.
Maybe it was the unique beers. Last weekend they were selling Breakfast Michelada, brewed with tomatoes, hot peppers, pickles, and spices, which they confidently promised was one of the most unique things you’d try all weekend. (Just that weekend? Clearly I am not adventurous enough – that’s unique enough for my whole year.)
As I was mulling over the loss – and the pragmatic questions about how and when they could rebuild – we received this email from Adam Evans of Glens Falls. It’s too long for an OpEd, so I am printing it here:
It takes chemistry to make beer, certainly - to mix the ratios, to ferment properly, to find a niche in the community, to start a brewery as a father and son team. The formulas are essential. But, more than chemistry, beer takes a good deal of the divine. It’s astounding that a little of this and a little of that stirred in a pot and left to sit gives us the intoxicating mixture that has seduced humanity back to the neanderthal drinking fermented honey from a hive. It is a spell as old and incomprehensible as culture itself. There’s more than a bit of the divine in its substance, in the merrymaking it produces, and in the ability to make it well. Common Roots has been able to tap into that divinity to create a brewery that uplifts our community, and the flames overtaking the building cannot change that.
Last time I was in the taproom before the fire, decades cascaded before me. Young lovers - young enough still to get IDed - cuddled by the front window. Unofficial elder statesman, who must’ve been approaching 80, held council around the patient young woman bartending. An old retired teacher of mine from high school reeled off stories to his wife and friends in the corner, though he didn’t recognize me; an old friend of mine from the same time very much did and bought a round. The people of all ages circling the bar mapped a history of this region. Folks came and went; voices rose and fell talking about the coming spring, the receding ice, the thawing ground, new opportunity. Nothing particular was happening, but the space was comfortable, welcoming, and a little magical in the way that it drew you in and coaxed you to stay just a moment longer, as the best bars do.
This is a feeling that anyone who has stood out at the end of Marion Ave, warmed by drink on a cold night, and gazed up at the moon in the crisp, expansive sky over the Hudson can surely relate to. Hopefully, it’s a feeling anyone who’s had a belly full of good beer in a room full of friends can relate to. It is the essence of divinity and the spark of life.
The feeling is what a good bar and good beer is all about, and this is the experience Christian, Bert, Robin, and their team have been able to nurture in the local community and project far beyond the boundaries of the region and the state. Like all things enchanted and mystical, though, it can go off course. What begins with an expansion ends in a reduction. Cold beer evaporates in searing flame. A public house stands vacant, for the moment.
But the divine does not die. Opportunity and the magical spark wait again now for Common Roots and for all of us. We must lift a glass to the future.