Brew pubs offer you a choice. Instead of drinking one mass produced Continental pilsner, in a brew pub you have options ranging from pale ales to porters to weizens, and even additional seasonal options that pop up from time to time. Barley's is a brew pub that offers you that kind of choice in addition to choosing which Barley's outpost to drink and dine in.
Barley's has two locations. I went to the Ale House, which is a far more veggie-centric dining experience than the Smoke House, which offers barbecued animals of all shapes and sizes. Both establishments have vegetarian options--the Ale House just has many more options for the choosiest of veggie diners.
Both locations brew some of Columbus' finest beers. The Spark of the Divine Barley Wine was the newest seasonal beer. At 10 percent alcohol, the house limit was two barley wines per customer. Three of them might put a huge smile on your face if it were so allowed, as the beer offers a rich, sweet toffee midpalate and a lingering hint of clove on the finish that doesn't even begin to hint at the alcohol content contained within.
The pale ale is American in style, with a clean malt character followed by a fragrant hoppy bitterness. There are three year-round beers and approximately five other seasonal offerings at one time on the drink menu, which also includes domestic beer, a limited wine selection and a cadre of flavored martinis. Their beers were featured at Skipper's in Athens during Ohio Brew Week, and were covered by this blog in a previous post (hint: check the pictures).
I started off with the onion strings. The appetizer came in a basket and was a pile of breaded onions washed in the pale ale. This is great pub grub, but be warned--you will be carrying the aroma of onions around with you for days.
The main course was a veggie burger made from black beans, portabella mushrooms, rice, garlic and fresh vegetables. It was served with a choice of sides, and being a Polish lad, how could I say no to a couple of cheddar cheese and potato pierogis served with onions in brown butter? The pierogis are available as a happy hour appetizer for $5, and Polish carnivores can get their fill of kielbasa as well in the form of a dinner entree. It's like a little slice of Krakow near the hockey arena. (Well, it's nothing like Krakow or Warsaw. But the pierogi is delicious wherever it's served.)
There was one minor hiccup during the night. The appetizers were served a little too close to the main courses for my liking. Of course they were brought a little too early by the lovely Rebecca, a server who was very friendly, great to speak with and pretty enough to have dumped a pot of hot coffee on my lap without making me too upset. So I'll let her slide on this one. The rest of her service was attentive and prompt, making for a wonderful evening.
Brew pubs give you choices, from beer to food. Vegetarian diners can make the better choice in Columbus by picking Barley's Ale House. It should only take a sip of barley wine and a bite of pierogi to make it worth the trip. Enjoy the pictures in the Picasa link below.