Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria: Downtown Greenville
Talk about the perfect day. First, a visit to Dark Corner Distillery to sample some local moonshine and purchase a bottle or two, then we head over to the Greenville Beer Exchange to fill up a growler of Westbrook Brewing Dark Helmet beer and pick up a bunch of other items for the wife and myself to take home for when the kids go to bed (a bunch of German beers and beer fermented from the juice of sour apples). Then finally, finish off the perfect afternoon at Barley's Taproom. The wife, she was interested in the Pizza, me, I was interested in the beer.
Although you can't really read the beer menu posted above, let me tell you that it is one of the best thought-out and complete beer menus I have come across in many years. With the exception to some really good Chicago Brewpubs, Barley's beer selection is simply amazing with just one minor flaw that I'm sure changes over time as does the beer line-up. I was finding that beer from out in California and Oregon out numbered the local selection by almost three times.
Wanting to keep with the same theme of the day and stay local, I decided to have a Westbrook Vanilla Tree Dubbel. Vanilla Tree is a Belgian-style dubbel brewed with a variety of dark crystal malts and dark Belgian candy syrup. After fermentation, the beer is aged on whole vanilla beans and toasted oak chips. The result is a wonderfully smooth, malty ale with notes of dark fruit, spice, and vanilla (natural vanilla, not an extract with that fake syrup taste) and oak! Although just a sipping beer, it was one of the best Belgian style specialty beers I have ever tasted. Next up was a Highland Gaelic Ale. As the flagship beer to Highland Brewery, this was not only the first beer they offered, but to this day it accounts for about half of all the beer they produce. A deep amber colored American ale, featuring a rich malty body. Cascade and Willamette hops add a complex hop flavor and aroma. This ale is exceptionally balanced between malty sweetness and delicate hop bitterness.
Now onto the pizza. We ordered a Thai Chicken pizza that I would classify as a good pie. It wasn't anything outstanding or would I classify it as out-of-this-world good, but definitely a good quality scratch-made pizza. The simple addition of fresh chopped cucumber at the end was definitely the highlight to this pie for me. The sauce needed a little more kick to it as I felt like I was eating a peanut butter pizza. That gives me a good idea, PB&J Pizza... (I'm sure its already been done).
The service was fantastic as I know this place gets a lot of gruff for lack-luster performances at times. However, on this visit, we experienced probably some of the best service we have ever received in a downtown restaurant. The staff were very knowledgeable about the menu and the very impressive beer selection and even offered recommendations to the wife based on a few simple questions along with what kind of pie we were going to order. Not only was this appreciated, but all this took place right in the middle of the very busy and at times chaotic lunch rush on a Friday afternoon (I told you this day was perfect, beer for lunch on a Friday afternoon).
Bottom-line, if you enjoy craft beer at a fair price (some of the beers were on the steep side, but overall most of them were very fair for the quality) and want to try something that you probably never have before, Barley's is the perfect place to hang out at. As for the pizza, no more specialty pizzas for me, no matter how much the wife nags, I'm sticking to sausage and pepperoni pizzas with red sauce, you know, the kind we all used to eat as a kid. The next time she wants some crazy pizza with foie gras, cranberry jelly and oriental chutney, I will make it for her at home.
Have you ever been to Barley's Taproom in Greenville or to one of the other three locations? What did you think of the beer selection? Who else in the Upstate has a beer menu that can rival?