It’s a college town, so there are always new bars and pubs popping up and then disappearing like mushrooms after the rains. We have a few favorites already and it takes something unusual to get us to go to a new place. Friends were going to Tall Paul’s Brew House. We wandered past the empty Ti Amo (Sovereign) building (sob sob) and found the newly rehabbed frontage of Tall Paul’s. Is it good or bad that it’s right near the courthouse? A sobering reminder to call a cab when in need?
I’m a bit of an architecture geek, and of course The Man has a history with carpentry, so we both love old buildings that have been restored, remodeled, or just intelligently repurposed. This was merely one of those old brick buildings on a side street of downtown Gainesville that just sat festering for a long while until someone tossed some money and sweaty labor at it. The high plank ceilings have open beams, and the big space of the one giant room is classic but refreshed.
Of course, this is kind of the downfall of the place. It’s a giant cavernous room that echoes horribly. There was a band there the night we went so it was impossible to have a conversation unless you were attached to the person’s ear like a leach. Plus I’m just too old to pay a cover charge to hear a band doing old Doors songs with more volume than finesse. Even when the band took a break (thank you!), the crowd created enough noise that we were actually joking about trying to use sign language to communicate.
On the other hand, the beer selection was a good excuse to stay and make the best of it. This was not the college bar line up of Bud, PBR, and Yuengling. Not quite Stubbie’s and their 400+ beer options. But you can find something interesting on their menu. And of course they have wine, cider, and Lindeman’s Lambic (flavored) beer for you non-beer drinkers. But this place seems to be the work of beer geeks. I would watch the taps for fun surprises.
They’ve got the usual fooseball and curling tables. It was crowded, but I might have seen a pool table? And obviously there’s a place for a ‘stage’ so more live music might be on the schedule. Most of the seating is box benches (kind of cool looking) in rows along stainless steel tables. Very flexible seating, so if you’re in large group, it’s easy to push tables together and get casual. And as a bonus, it looks like the front windows slide all the way open, which may or may not help with the no-smoking-inside issue if you’re with a mixed group.
The bar itself sticks out into the room like an awkward elephant, and the bar staff probably could use a little more experience handling a crowded environment. It was three deep at the bar that night, not only because of the crowd, but the staff were chatting up the patrons instead of serving beer at high speeds. The tables were bussed promptly (I suspect they were desperate for the glassware that night though). The Man eventually got himself a Cigar City Dry Stout that was more coffee than beer, and I had a cider (I have to appreciate a place that has cider on tap).
It would be nice to go back on a weeknight to see how the place is underneath the noise and crowds. Even though it’s been open a few months, the patrons haven’t quite figured out if this is their bar yet, it seems. Friday night’s crowd was a strange mix of G’ville strata and I was imagining a Sharks vs. Jets kind of dance/fight breaking out to see who claimed the bar as their own. Overall the place felt a bit like Palamino, or what would happen if Stubbies and The Bull had a love child.
Tall Paul’s Brew House
10 SE 2nd Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601