Well, Barrel Republic has this whole thing figured out. What if you could sample over 50 beers and pay for exactly as much as you want? That's the concept behind Barrel Republic's self-pour, pay-by-the-ounce system. It's quite simple, and brilliant. You start the night by registering a credit card, then you are given a bracelet with a magnetic sensor. You scan the sensor at the beer tap that interests you, and pour until you have reached the desired amount. That's it! You are charged per ounce, down to the decimal point, so it's a great way to try lots of different beers. Current pours can be found on the website (http://barrelrepublic.com/carlsbad-beer-menu/)
It's like a beer buffet, except that there is a 40 oz limit before you must check in with a bartender to get more. Being a former bartender, I think that this system is brilliant.
The atmosphere is nice as well. Far from the watering hole decor or business park plainness of a brewing company, Barrel Republic has a gorgeous fireplace and comfortable tables for chatting with friends. They also serve food -- good food!
The menu is a good mix of snack-like things to share while enjoying friendly company -- and everything comes portioned for sharing. It's classic bar favorites, but made with great ingredients and recipes.
There were lots of tempting appetizers on the menu, but the potato barrels were just calling to me. The name is so cute! Parmesan-crusted gourmet "tater tots" these were so crispy, with a delicious creamy mashed potato inside. Served with watercress and chimichurri, they were a great start to the evening.
The main courses are sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads. Seafood and a good beer sounded great to me, and I love seafood soup, so I chose the shrimp roll (a take on the classic lobster roll) and the cream of crab soup.
The crab soup was delicious! Totally reminiscent of the delicious cream of crab that I ate when I lived in Maryland. Made with blue crab and seasoned perfectly, it was wonderful! The shrimp roll was a respectable take on the lobster roll, served cold, with seasoned, plump shrimp served on a toasted roll with watercress.
My partner loves the beer and burger combination, so he naturally ordered the Barrel Burger. Served split into four equal pieces for sharing, with some classic fries. The burger was juicy and easy to munch, and the fries were salty, crispy goodness. Freshly cut from real potatoes and fried to a golden crisp, these were the perfect beer munchable.
The dessert was simple, but perfect for the casual setting. Homemade peanut butter and chocolate crunch bars -- sort of a homemade candy bar topped with stout cherries. Again, a nice little snack/sweet to share and would pair well with a stout or other dark beer.
Go for the beer, stay for the food! Located in the heart of Carlsbad Village, this new spot is a great addition to the dining scene. There are also locations in Pacific Beach and Oceanside.