Snacketology: Barley’s Smokehouse

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From the March 8, 2012 edition

Scouting report: The microbrew pub phenomenon is one of the few American food and drink trends I never tire of. Fortunately, it has staying power, as this versatile, nearly 14-year-old establishment can testify to. This casual restaurant/bar stands out because (along with its convenient parking lot) here, the rich aroma of malted barley happily marrying flowery hops blends harmoniously with the tempting scent of smoldering meat mingling with alluring wood smoke. Yup, on-premises-created microbrew and barbecue is a hard combo to beat.

Setting the screen: Barley’s large, Brit-pub-riffing, compartmentalized space wends though several rooms. By far, the best hoops-viewing section is the bar area, where six variously sized TVs are located. There are also less sports-centric back rooms, one with pool tables (and three TVs) and another even more secluded dining space with a couple of TVs.

Kiss off the glass: If you haven’t tried Barley’s world-class ales yet, well, welcome to Columbus. These beautifully balanced brews are handcrafted in flavors to please all palates; some are even traditionally cask-conditioned and aged in wooden bourbon barrels.

Slam dunks: Smoky and meaty things, of course. That tongue-tingling dynamic duo finds cliche-shattering expression in Barley’s grilled big boy wings ($8). These grease-free zingers exhibit an authentic “smoke ring” and can be flavored with a variety of sauces, like tangy Texas barbecue or a spicy aromatic jerk. Also excellent are Barley’s killer Smokehouse Chili ($3, packed with tons of great, smoky and chunky meats); the crispy and cheesy Southwestern-flavored BBQ Quesadilla ($9) stuffed with smoked beef brisket, corn and sauteed peppers; and Mildred’s sausage- and cheese-powered fried Sauerkraut Balls ($6).