Every year the wonderful world of technology brings me to Columbus Ohio for the annual E-Tech Ohio Conference. I decided to take advantage of these few days in Columbus and do some reviews of some local brewpubs and eateries. My first stop brought me to Barley's Smokehouse and Brewpub. Ratebeer.com recently rated Barley's as the 86th best brewer in the world. How could I not go there after reading that information?
Food---Being a Smokehouse, Barley's menu heavily revolved around BBQ. I opted for the BBQ pulled chicken sandwich. I love BBQ and I love pulled pork, steak and chicken so I really had some high hopes for what I was about to eat. Here is how the sandwich was described on the menu "Whole chickens are seasoned and hickory slow-smoked until just right, then hand pulled off the bone and put on a brioche roll and topped with our own Kansas City BBQ sauce." The sandwich was served with shoestring fries as well. As you can see from the picture the sandwich has a good amount of pulled chicken on a good sized brioche roll.
When the menu said it was topped with Kansas City BBQ sauce I expected a little more BBQ sauce throughout the sandwich, not just dolloped on top. That being said it did come with a side of sauce for me to add more, but I just kind of felt a little off mixing my own BBQ into my chicken. The chicken was moist and tender but I really didn't get a flavorful amount of the hickory smoking and seasoning. The BBQ sauce was slightly thin, but did have some good flavor to it. If I compare this BBQ pulled chicken sandwich to the Winking Lizard's version I give the thumbs up hands down to the Lizard's version because of the flavor, seasoning and the chicken preparation. That being said, this sandwich was good, just not the best I've had. The fries were your typical shoestring fries. They were clearly freshly cooked. They came out very hot and crispy. They were lightly seasoned with salt and when dipped in the BBQ sauce they were quiet tasty. Overall my food was good, just not the best pulled chicken I've had recently. I hope to make it back to Barley's next year to do a follow-up review! Food wise I'd give Barley's a 3.5/5.
Drinks---The Barley's Smokehouse features a very nice draft list. They offered six different house brews, nine different guest brews and a dozen different guest bottles. They also have your bud, miller and coors lights too (but what is the point in a brewpub!) I opted to keep my selections among the house brews. My first beer was the Centennial IPA and my second brew was the Nitro Russian Imperial Stout. (Reviews of each of these will be posted on my Craftbeer Review Page.) I also had a chance to sample the Scottish Ale and the Bitter Dan which was a 3x IPA. I'm not to going review either because the Scottish was such a small sample and the Bitter Dan was 2 days past its prime and lost nearly all carbonation since its small batch tapping. That being said I'd be very interested to see just how good the Bitter Dan is when it is properly carbonated and fresh! Overall Barley's Smokehouse has a very good selection of house and guest craftbeer. My rating, 4.25/5.
Atmosphere and Service---The feeling of the bar is friendly and open. The bar area has a lowered roof, while the area behind the bar opens up. Pretty much what you would expect from a brewpub. The service all night was very good. My beers were never empty and a very nice waitress even loaned me her pen because I forgot mine. (Hard to take notes without a writing utensil!) The bartender was also very friendly. It was very easy to see why many people like to go to Barley's. Atmosphere and Service get a 4.5/5.
Overall---Very friendly service and a good craftbeer list will always bring a crowd. Food wise I only had one of their many menu items, so I hope to make it back there to try something else to see how it compares to this meal. Overall Barley's gets a 4/5.