Still the one

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Pub

Before Barley's premiered in 1992, brewpubs were something we could only enjoy in other cities. Well, Barley's is still the benchmark for this burg, and fortunately the intervening years have been quite kind to it. While an effort has lately been made to amp up the beamed-in sports, this venerable tavern stays stubbornly committed to its original mission: to be a superior, British-influenced brew-making pub. It succeeds brilliantly.

The simple, utilitarian layout is accentuated with soothing wood and padded booths, plus the sporty stuff. An eyeball highlight here is an ornately hand-carved, century-old mahogany bar shipped over from the old country by a pioneering Columbus brewer during the '30s.

The Brew

Simply stellar. In general, Barley's specializes in a rotating stable of handcrafted, hoppy, full-bodied and complex ales, like its great pale ale and its toasty and chewy oatmeal stout. But currently on tap there's also a simply refreshing pilsner, an easy-drinking Scottish ale and a rye that seems destined to ride with spicy foods. Another highlight: Barley's frequent, super-trad, cask-conditioned releases and their Firkin Friday limited-time specials. (Google cask-conditioned ale and Firkin.)

The Grub

Barley's offers a manageable menu of contemporary American favorites like satisfying burgers (for something lighter, try the turkey-nut burger), wraps, a few hearty entrees and other beer-buddy munchies. Their wings fly higher than most others because they're grilled instead of grease-gurgled, and Barley's kitchen-sink nachos are, as advertised, a mile high. For something tiny but mighty, try Mildred's Sauerkraut Balls - those herby, golf ball-sized, cheesy, dense and sausagey orbs can soak up a healthy dose of Barley's elegant suds.