Brewery Name: Barrel Head Brewhouse
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: San Francisco, California
Facebook: Barrel Head Brewhouse
Background: Departing from my more typical retail brewery type of experience in San Francisco, I decided to check out Barrel Head Brewhouse, a more brewpub/restaurant style setting. I hadn’t heard a ton about their beer, but they’re in a really great neighborhoody district of the city, have an awesome setup in their dining room, oh and their taps are built into a torpedo tube. No, that isn’t some sort of neat "bar nerd" apparatus I'm referencing...a TORPEDO...like the exact kind you’re picturing while reading this!
Growlers: Growler pours are offered for at least Barrel Head’s own beer. They have a whole slew of really great guest taps, but I can’t imagine those are able to be provided in growler format.
The Beers: Barrel Head had six of their beers on tap when I was there. As always, all were tried. I did however make a mental note that next time I visit, I want to explore their "Brewtails" menu where they put a beer spin on some classic cocktail recipes. If this doesn’t get you intrigued, I’m not sure what would:
Here are the beers I got to try:
Vibe: GREAT spot with a group. Finding a good beer spot with a large group of people is a dangerous game, but Barrel Head nails it. The venue is big enough without feeling like an echo chamber, and small enough to keep your group to yourself for a game, dinner, or whatever else you’re up to. They’ve got plenty of TVs for games, a really neat mix of bar seating, high-tops, barrels to stand at, and traditional seating on the main floor and the lofted section of the building.
I was there on a Saturday during a Giants game during late afternoon and the place was a perfect level of crowded. There were plenty of people there with flights watching the game, others watching soccer in another section, plus all of the customers posted at the bar or sitting at tables in the brewery section. For how much is going on inside Barrel Head, none of it feels disjointed and everything seems comfortable.
Now about that torpedo. I love a good tap setup. Though many think it’s boring, I’ve always been drawn to the simple, unlabeled, stainless steel setup that is common in a lot of craft breweries and taprooms. Barrel Head took this and upped the game by using those same stainless steel unmarked taps, but running the whole system through a decommissioned torpedo shell.
It’s hard to do it much justice in pictures, but trust me when I say that it really elevates the experience when sitting at the bar. It’s accompanied by some really cool art on the walls and ceilings, and of course, barrels everywhere. Barrel tables, barrels behind the bar, barrel slats as tasting boards, even the check comes on a little piece of barrel wood when you’re finished.
The staff I interacted with was great and engaged about their house beer even when really busy. They were sure to emphasize that taps change frequently and the styles switch up a bit tool. Definitely convinced me to add this to my regular repertoire for finding new brews.
Dogs: No dogs this time. The indoor venue is more similar to a restaurant setting than not.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$. Right about par for the course on beers in the city. Food is priced reasonably and they do run some happy hour and brunch specials. Flights are offered either pre-designed or in a BYO format.
Food: GREAT food menu. Barrel Head takes some bar food staples and does them at a really elevated level, then supplements with some creative, impressive additions. The brunch offers things like Brisket Hash and Hog Island Oysters, and the standard menu has everything from steak, to ribs, to pulled pork served gyro-style. They have a great nosh-y menu too with flatbreads, wings, poutine, etc.
Final Thoughts: Perfect local spot. Really unique style of beers available, all looping back detectable German characteristics at some level. Venue is top notch for turning beers into dinner, watching the game, or sitting with a group of friends.
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