I always love a good Brew 52 meet up, so I was excited to go to Barley John's last weekend. It was a beautiful fall day, and although I was initially annoyed when I saw the group sitting outside, it ended up being just fine. Colin, the brewer at Barley John's, was nice enough to come in on his day off to go through the tasting with us. We went from light to dark, starting with the Little Barley Bitter, moving on to the Stockyard IPA, then to Old Eight Porter, and finally the Dark Night (I don't know if it is Night or Knight - it isn't listed on the website so I'll go with Night since that is what Rett put on Brew 52). Little Barley Bitter was my clear favorite, unsurprisingly, but I actually also enjoyed the IPA and Porter. I hated Dark Night - just not a fan of that type of beer at all.
The patio at Barley John's is very nice, even though I usually hate patios that face parking lots. I liked the patio better than the inside, which is tiny and pretty boring in terms of decor. We moved inside after the tasting to eat dinner with the siblings. They don't have many tables for groups larger than 4, so I'd recommend making a reservation if you do have a bigger group. The staff seemed quite overwhelmed with how many people were there that night, but that is likely just because of the Brew 52ers that were there - other than those people, the place would have been full but not packed.
Joe ordered the hummus as an appetizer, which I thought had a great habanero flavor without being overpowering and too spicy to eat. It took me quite a while to decide what to get for my main meal - Barley John's has a surprisingly large menu. I decided to go with a Beer Brat as it seemed appropriate. I loved the waffle fries that came with it, and the brat was done perfectly. My only complaint was with the bun. It was cut weirdly so the brat didn't exactly fit inside the bun, it kind of rested on top of it. Parts of the bun were also very hard, to the point that it seemed that it might have been a little stale. Because I loved the brat itself, and the sauerkraut, I will forgive the bun, but it did make the meal a little worse.
Overall, I had a great time at Barley John's - the beers were tasty and the atmosphere was very friendly. I'd recommend sticking with the sandwiches or pizzas for your meal - from what I have heard, these seem to be better than the pastas or other entrees.
Rett arranged a Brew52 meet-up at Barley John's two weekends ago, so we thought we'd have dinner there as well (it doesn't take much for us to agree to order something rather than cooking). Colin, one of the brewers, was guiding the group through a sampling of four of the beers they have. Since it was a nice fall day we sat outside while we sampled the brew. It was a little windy that day, but luckily someone supplied a blanket for Erin from their car, so she was OK for the hour or so we spent out there :)
It was fun to have someone talk us through the beers, I would highly recommend getting a flight of beers if you stop by they're all good except for the current seasonal the Dark Knight - it's 13.5% alcohol and aged in bourbon barrels, I can't drink these kinds of beers, just too heavy and syrupy for my liking.
The inside of Barley John's is small. The bar itself is about twelve feet long and there are around ten tables total. We grabbed a table with my two of my sisters, Becca and Amanda, and my brother-in-law Joe. They seemed reluctant to let us pull a fifth chair up to a four person table, but they let us as long as we didn't block the walkway. The menu is a little more than I would expect from a brewpub, although I still ended up getting the cheeseburger. Joe ordered the Habanero hummus which I thought was pretty good. Not only do they have sandwiches, burgers, and brats, but they've also got full entrees - rigatoni, beef tenderloin, etc.
They also have a decent selection of scotches, and they even have a scotch flight as a menu item, which is a sample of four scotches, two from column A and two from column B. I will definitely be back at some point to have the scotch flight, as that wasn't going to suffice for my meal on this night. They have a list of scotch on the website, but I feel like the menu in the restaurant had more listed.
My cheeseburger was pretty good, and it came with really good waffle fries, I love it when places don't charge extra for waffle fries - they're delicious. The burgers come pretty plain but they do have a good selection of add-ons that are fifty cents each: bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, garlic mayo, sautéed mushroom, roasted garlic (bacon was $1.75 if I remember right, yikes). Roasted garlic and garlic mayo? Oh, hells yes :)
Our service was OK, the servers seemed to be swamped because the place was full, but even with a full house there aren't that many people. Next time I go I will be sitting at the bar to try my scotches and more beers.
- Service: No complaints, but nothing special.
- Food: Burger was good, hummus was good. I'd be interested to see the beef tenderloin.
- Drinks: I'm pretty sure there is a full bar, and they have their own beers as well as a good selection of local beers that complement their beers.
- Ambiance: I think going here in the summertime and sitting outside would be better than a cooler fall afternoon. They have hop vines that cover the patio which is a nice touch and they would look cool when they are in bloom (or whatever hops do when they are 'ready'). I didn't notice much character in the dining room and there wasn't much decor, it was pretty plain.
- Price: Typical prices, $8-$9 for a burger, $4-5 for a beer.
- Convenience: Barley John's is in Roseville just off of County Road D and 35W and they have a parking lot.
Barley John's Brew Pub
781 Old Highway Eight SW
New Brighton, MN
Highly recommended for the beers and casual food is pretty good as well