In another life I was rather techie. I remember the first time I went to Stacked in Fashion Valley and thought it was the coolest thing to order our custom burgers on an iPad. Psst, I still think it is cool. Of course I’m still a nerd for all computerized gadgets, but I can’t seem to keep up like I once did before. Damn you Gen Z! These days new technology married with food is a popular combination. Barrel Republic is a chain that allows you to try tons of different beverages, without having to speak to a human being. I’m not sure if that’s good or not, but the staff does take your food orders and come check on you to make sure you are settled in.
A bunch of friends were planning on checking out Barrel Republic in Pacific Beach, but plans changed and we ended up elsewhere. A few days later SDF was invited to the Barrel Republic in Carlsbad. I think fate would not deny us a chance to experience it. They have one other location in Oceanside besides the ones in Carlsbad and Pacific Beach.
A bustling tech driven craft beer paradise awaits as you walk by the front windows facing the street. It looks brand new because well, it is brand new. Just opened at the end of October, they were packed with new comers and already regulars it seemed.
I’ll walk through my experience chronologically as best as I can without getting distracted. First off, you check in and after making sure you are of legal age they give you a bracelet. This is your golden ticket to drink. More on this later.
As we were walking to our table it was hard to miss the barrel theme and bright lcd screens with all sorts of different beverages to choose from.
What sort of glass do you like drinking from? Do you want a taste or an entire goblet?
Yes, their motto is “freedom to pour.” It’s true to the core, for better or for worse. 🙂
Once you can get past the shiny screens and lumberific decor, your eyes will settle on a target. You may try to approach said target with focus and intent. The only thing stopping you is the very same eyes that may once again get distracted with some other bright object. If it seems like a video game, that’s probably because to me, it felt like I was in one. And if you do manage to make it to your first screen you can read the main page which tells you who makes the beverage, what it is called, what the alcohol content is, and how much per ounce it will cost you.
Do you notice the Barrel Republic logo on the bottom right corner? That’s where your bracelet comes into play. Simply wave your bracelet in front of the logo and you are presented with a green light on top that, you guessed it, lets you pour to your heart’s content.
If you so choose you can tap the screen you can get a more in depth description for that specific beverage. I find this quite amazing. I’m not even a drinker and I was excitedly going down the row tapping away. I can’t imagine a beer nerd going crazy in a place like this.
Here are some of my friends finding out more about their first beer targets and testing them out.
Oh yes, and they do have more options besides beer. They offer non-alcoholic choices which included craft soda, kombucha, tea, and cold brew coffee. Is wine your thing? Yup they even have a small wine section, meaning they pretty much have all beverages covered. The only thing I can think of that I wanted was boba on tap! Ha! But with over 50 selections, there’s only so much one can fit in one belly. After all, they do serve food.
Some of which was delicious if I must say so myself. We started off with the bacon-wrapped pork belly. Yumtastic. That means really really good. The pork belly melts away in your mouth while the bacon gives you a nice crispy texture. This was a favorite among the group.
You also can’t go wrong with a meat and cheese platter. There were many tasty things on this board and it is perfect for sharing.
Yes. Please. I don’t usually like to fill up on bread. But this buttery garlicy pillow of goodness got no resistance on the path to my stomach. I purposefully placed the bowl as far away from my reach as I could, yet still it was barely within reach.
We didn’t originally order this, but our server brought it out to us anyways. Thank goodness she did. We needed something with vegetables badly.
The soba noodle salad was a miss for the night. The noodles were a little grainy and sandy for our liking. The field greens with the spicy vinaigrette were good though.
They did not skimp on the avocado nor the jalapeño’s in these tacos. The combo is nice and the only thing I wished there was more of was cheese.
A cool thing about the sandwiches and burgers is they’ll cut them up for you so it is easier to share and order different things. Sharing is caring. The turkey sandwich was okay. I couldn’t really make out the smoked gouda, and bacon aioli. Other than that, I liked the sourdough which had a good soft texture and flavor.
Lastly, we ordered the Barrel burger. It is their most basic burger on the menu. Sometimes, it helps to keep things simple. It was nothing fancy, yet tickled my fancy nonetheless.
Going back to the drinks for a minute I have to say I loved the experience. Even though I am not a huge drinker (technically, I am allergic to alcohol), I can manage tasting enough to get a good idea of what I like and don’t like. The Landfall Sour – Berliner Weisse was pretty interesting. I really enjoy sour flavors and this gave you just that. A few friends really were digging the Imperial Baltic Porter (Barrel Aged) Porter – Baltic. It literally looked like motor oil. While it might not have tasted anything like oil, I heard it was not for the faint of heart. It is aged in oak bourbon barrels from Wild Turkey. The Gift of the Magi Bière de Garde from Lost Abbey had a little too much hop for me. There was another that I can’t seem to recall now that I liked. It was subtly sweet and super smooth with hints of peach.
I tried all of the non-alcoholic beverages as well. 🙂 My favorite probably was the strawberry soda from the Living Tea Brewing Co.
I had a really fun time with my friends testing out the different drinks while consuming a ton of food. Moving around the restaurant helped the food digest and seemed to create more space for both food and drink. 🙂 The experience kind of reminded me of the wine bars that use swipe cards. But there is something about the bracelet that makes it that much more fun. I think it has to do with the action of making a fist, and then placing it over the logo which makes the light go green. That’s called positive reinforcement friends. There were a few misses on food, but overall, everything else was rather tasty. For a fun night sampling all the beverages you desire I would head over to Barrel republic. It was the perfect place for a non-drinker like me because I’m allowed to taste the beer without ordering an entire cup or bottle. Plus, I just love being able to go around and test things out.
Disclaimer: We were invited to drink and dine at Barrel Republic and our meal was complimentary. However, our opinions remain our own.
2961 State St
Carlsbad, CA 92008