Walk into The Guam Brewery Tap House in Tumon and you'll want to get comfortable and stay for a spell. The ambiance is a step up from casual but inclusive enough for patrons to feel relaxed whether they're in board shorts or coming from the board room. The dining room is spacious, with seating for 60 in the dining room, another 10 in a private room and 10 seats at the bar, where six signature beers are served and you might find brewmaster Mike Converse talking about what he knows best: creating recipes and making craft beers.
Converse is an award-winning brewmaster who got his start brewing when he bought a brewery and began honing his trade.
"I just do it because I enjoy it," he says.
The Paseo Porter Ale is made onsite, 12 gallons at a time.
"The hoppier beers and the porter goes well with barbecue spicy food," Converse says. But at The Guam Brewery Tap House, there's a beer for every palate and a dish that pairs well with it.
"Most of the beers will go with almost anything," he says. "That's the nice part of it."
Converse merged his rich knowledge of brewing with a nod to island style in producing the six recipes, all of which are proprietary and have earned the Made in Guam designation
"I took into consideration of the culture. It's a young beer community. Our lighter beers, I've added a little bit of honey malt to give it a little more tropical flavor," he says.
The "paddle" – a local twist on the flight – is a great way to start off a visit to the brewery. Pick five beers and sip and share to discover which brew appeals to you – a great introduction to the different kinds of beer available. Their 7-ounce "ponies" at just $3.50 are also a nice way to sample a beer before upgrading to the 15-ounce pint for $7.50.
Come for craft beer, stay for craft food
While the beer may draw the crowds, the food will keep them hooked. Chef Jared Preuc has developed a menu that reimagines traditional island favorites.
"It's about the beers pairing with the food. We wanted to incorporate Guam local dishes. We had to taste all the beer first and then we made the flavors according to the beers," Preuc says.
The Tinaktak Dumplings – wonton-wrapped seasoned beef and vegetables served with a coconut dinanche – demonstrate well how Preuc has been able to meet that goal. Dip into the Gollai Haggan Suni appetizer, which is made with spinach and coconut and infused with a signature brew, and served with crispy titiyas if you're still not convinced.
A variety of beer-braised burgers, including one topped with jalapeño, bacon and cream cheese; hearty sandwiches (don't miss the Chicken Katsu Loco Moco Hoagie); and a choice of filling salads like the Dinanche Caesar round out the menu.
And Pruec is not done creating – he says he plans to add to the menu as they go.
"The sky is the limit," he says.
GM: Everyone is welcome
General Manager Mark Stotts says they want to create an environment where everyone can feel at home and find something they love.
The local crowd, families, military members and tourists all are welcome, he says.
"And we can satisfy them all," he added.
The Tap House opened discreetly a couple months ago but has been gaining attention from foodies and families looking for good value and a new experience in dining.
Stotts says a lot of business has come from "friends telling friends."
Much more to come
While this is just the beginning for The Guam Brewery Tap House, there is more to come – a lot more.
The Tap House is the official tasting room for the currently under construction 15-barrel production, Eastern European-built computerized brew house in Harmon, complete with a canning line: The island's first craft brew production brewery for commercial distribution.
Converse says 460 gallons can be brewed there daily, and all six beers eventually will be brewed and canned at the location.
The Guam Brewery Tap House started out on the right foot and seems to be in for a good long run.