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While planning a recent visit to the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania, I was on the hunt for a unique, super casual, and customer-approved restaurant where the fam could grab a tasty dinner.
After some searching, I found Barley Creek Brewery in Tannersville, within spitting distance of where we were planning to set up base. My wife Sue, who appreciates a well-executed brew, would definitely be in the mood for a tall, frosty one after our scheduled day of water parking in the July heat. As a taste-challenged beer philistine who couldn’t distinguish between an IPA and PBR, I was more focused on Barley Creek's menu, which looked great, as well as the enthusiastic reviews of its patrons - 4.3 stars on Facebook, 4 on TripAdvisor, and 3.5 on Google.
Pulling into Barley Creek’s crowded parking lot on a sticky Monday evening, I pondered the opening time listed on the brewery’s welcome sign (below) and slowly read it out loud while scrunching my brow and cocking my head à la confused weimaraner. If this zany messaging was an example of the the loose Barley Creek vibe (spoiler alert #1: it was), I figured that we were in for a really fun evening (spoiler alert #2: we were).
Barley Creek Brewery (BCB) factoids:
They opened in 1995 and brew 30 different kinds of handcrafted beer, “from the lightest ale to the darkest stout.”
They’ve won medals for their Navigator Gold, Rescue IPA in the World Beer Competition and won Best of Show at the Atlantic City Beer Festival for their Brown Antler Ale.
They source local apples, honey, and blueberries as ingredients for some of their beers.
Their spent grain is used to make homemade dog biscuits as well as for feed for local cows (according to one farmer, it’s “candy for the cows”).
They take sustainability very seriously: all the lighting is LED, the roof is covered by 165 solar panels, the refrigeration system is certified energy efficient, they offer preferred parking for hybrid vehicles, and they’re the area’s first Certified Green Restaurant® by The Green Restaurant Association.
Their beers are brewed with pure water from their own 700' artesian well.
They’ve been approved to operate a limited distillery for the production of vodka, gin, moonshine, and whiskey (coming soon).
They offer free daily brewery tours, followed by free beer tastings.
They sell their beer to-go in kegs, growlers, cases, or six packs.
Behind the brewery/restaurant, their Pint Size Park (open to the public on Sundays and available for catered parties) features a regulation size wiffle ball field, bocce ball courts, cornhole, pavilion, tiki bar, and more.
The interior of BCB’s restaurant is woody, clean, and contemporary, with exposed ducts, pin spots, metal ceiling fans, and lots of windows (including wall-size, garage door-type windows that, when the weather is right, roll up and open to create a massive patio effect in the main dining room). There were lots of high top tables for two and long tables and booths for groups. Large wall-mounted flat screens also abounded, some with BCB’s beer selections and others with live sports action.
In terms of a brew for Sue, our excellent server Brianna guided her to BCB’s Pocono Pale Ale, described on the menu as “dry, crisp, not overly hoppy”, as well as “well balanced with a crisp finish”. Sue found it smooth, pleasing to the palate, and an ideal apéritif to our chow - which was its own amazing adventure:
PHOENIX PRETZEL DIP
BCB’s description: “Bavarian pretzels served with a duo of dipping sauces, warm jalapeño spinach queso and dijon mustard.”
Our reaction: Fun, delicious, and a great idea for an appetizer (especially for a Pennsylvania eatery).
BCB’s description: “Served with celery and bleu cheese dressing.”
Our reaction: We unanimously decided that they were the best tasting, most meaty, and least fatty wings that we had ever tasted.
BCB’s description: “One whole pound of Certified Angus Beef. That’s two burgers piled high with American cheese, crispy fried onions, lettuce, tomato, and Barley’s own aioli sauce.”
My reaction: Not just ginormous and hugely satisfying, but also expertly assembled with creative ingredients and a superb taste.
ST. LOUIS BBQ RIBS
BCB’s description: “A full rack of classic St Louis style pork barbeque ribs with our renowned dry-rub, and finished off with a brushing of our tangy original barbeque sauce.”
My daughter’s reaction: The meatiness and tangy taste fried her pretty little dome (in a good way), and the mega serving size lasted for two more meals.
BRITISH PUB STYLE SHEPHERD’S PIE
BCB’s description: “Ground beef and onions simmered in our Brown Antler Ale and sherry gravy, with peas and corn, covered with mashed potatoes.”
My son’s reaction: Hearty, dense, and authentic, with fresh ingredients and an irresistible aroma.
CALI CHOPPED SALAD
BC’s description: “A chopped combo of crisp romaine, Roma tomatoes, kalamata olives, fresh basil, chopped chicken breast, tossed with mozzarella cheese and a red wine vinaigrette.”
Sue’s reaction: Satisfying and delectable with lots of distinct textures and tastes, and - in true BCB style - very filling (another two mealer).
CHEESECAKE and BROWNIE SUNDAE
Funny story: I got up from the table to take a picture of the hybrid parking sign outside, and when I got back, these were the remnants that welcomed me. Thanks for looking out for pops, y'all. NICE.
Anyhoo, I managed to weave through everybody’s last minute fork jabs and nab a few bites for myself. Both delicacies were ridiculously mouth-watering, and the cool sugar rushes that they delivered were delightfully bliss-inducing.
Le Big Takeaway
Whether you’re a beer aficionado, a Genny cream-swilling heathen, or somewhere in between, it would be impossible for you to not have a great time at BCB. The killer menu, the fresh and diverse brew selections, the awesome indoor ambiance, the energetic outdoor activities, and the sensational service make Barley Creek Brewery an absolute must to experience, whether you’re local or traveling from NY, NJ, or other parts of PA.