The super casual brewpub sets a high standard for food and suds.
Beer and barbecue are about as inseparable as Buckeye football and heartache. One glaring distinction is that one of those pairs will always make you feel good.
Relatedly, while Barley's Smokehouse can't be blamed for painful football losses, its famous ales and hickory-scented meats can be counted on to improve your mood afterward. Trust me on that.
The super-casual brewpub is plainly devoted to a brawny, denim-wearing kind of aesthetic. I mean there's even blue jeans pictured on its colorful, photos-of-food-packed menu. Clearly this no-nonsense approach pleases Barley's many regulars.
Monday nights are an especially fine time to see what I'm talking about, as this place always attracts a good-sized, good-timing crowd then for its 40-cent smoked wings.
If you've never tried them, I'd wager you'd be surprised what smoking does for those flappers. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
Speaking of getting "a head," before ordering any food, you must slurp some of Barley's world-class suds.
A good intro into those incredible quaffs is with a "sampler" ($6.75). You'll get about nine three-sip glasses filled with made-on-premises beers that range from American-style lager to a citrusy Centennial Pale Ale to a chocolatey stout. While you knock those beauties back, get settled into Barley's big and family-friendly sports-pubby space.
Now it's time for those smoky, ungreasy and meaty wings. I like 'em best with either the tangy Texas Smokedip sauce or the herby and smokin' hot Jerk sauce. Usually I get some of both (if not bought on discounted Mondays, they're $8.29 for 10).
Another hearty starter is the thick Smokehouse Chili ($5). Like a lot of the food here, it's pretty straightforward but well made, with a nicely calibrated amount of tomato and chili spice. It's loaded with ground beef, but there's also bits of brisket in there for extra interest.
You probably won't find it surprising that a menu item here is called the Carnivore Sampler (two meats for $15, three for $20). But you might be caught off guard by how tender and juicy the smoked turkey is. Also good are meaty and crusty baby back ribs and pulled pork. The platter includes crispy but nondescript fries and nice, picnicky baked beans.
If sandwiches are more your thing, the Boy Oh Boy barbecue ($9) will hook you up with a trio of slider-sized sammies. You'll get juicy pulled pork and pulled chicken plus a satisfying, smoky brisket along with beans and fries.
The Meatloaf Sandwich ($8) was also a winner. Big slabs of juicy and firm loaf with an intriguing smokiness were attractively griddle-crisped, slathered with a sweetish Kansas City sauce, layered with melted American cheese and placed on toasted marbled rye.
The Grilled Tuna ($15) might've had less cholesterol, but no less good flavor. A huge serving of fresh-tasting fish steak came with an Asian-y glaze plus dense mashers and garlicky green beans.
A fitting finisher is the airy and beery Chocolate Stout Mousse ($5). When consumed with Barley's beautiful stout, it helped me smooth out that recent Buckeye-Badger bump in the National Championship road.
To read G.A. Benton's blog visit ColumbusDiningGuide.com