“IT’S KINDA LIKE A SELF SERVE SOFT YOGURT JOINT…. ONLY, WITH CRAFT BEERS INSTEAD”
FREEDOM – TO POUR YOUR OWN CRAFT BEERS
And now for something completely different. A new (self serve) Craft Beer Mart that allows you to try whatever you want, when you want it. But to simply call it a new venue would be an understatement. Barrel Republic is a new and ingenious business model, for Craft Beer sales. Specializing in Barrel aged beers, Barrel Republic is a Mecca for craft beer lovers to come and experience pure freedom: the freedom to pour, freedom to compare, freedom to be amongst other like minded craft beer enthusiasts.
Located in the heart of the Pacific Beach, Barrel Republic is the brainchild of David Pike, also owner of the San Diego Soccers. Pike decided to push the envelope with Barrel Republic. 44 craft beers online, huge screens for all major sporting events, awesome local food trucks out back. Inside the decor is made up of reclaimed wood, ambient lighting from the overhead skylights and comfortable seating arrangements. A warm and inviting environment that gives all of its patrons the privilege to pour their own beer.
Whether its a taster or a pint, YOU have the freedom to pour. While the concept has been utilized elsewhere in much smaller capacities, no one had thought to bring such a large and diverse selection of craft beers together in one place, at one time, to be sampled as the patron desires. Of course there are limitations. When 32 ounces in total have been sampled the taps will temporarily close until the patron can be evaluated by staffers. This is how consumption is monitored and approval from lawmakers was granted.
We met with the new GM Robert Kilborne who graciously gave us the tour of the facilities. Kilborne, obviously well educated and versed in the Craft Beer industry, was eager to share his knowledge. We enjoyed his exuberance in describing the beers, the operation and the informative staff. We were surprised to learn he was a retired marine who, after winding up in a wheelchair with a debilitating battlefield injury (told he would never walk again). Soldiered on thru years of physical therapy to eventually fully recover. He then re-educated and re-invented himself in the hospitality industry and as a Cicerone (similar to a Wine Sommelier) and Craft Beer aficionado. Very impressive guy.
In fact, everyone that works at Barrel Republic carries at least a level one Cicerone Certification. “The great thing about this, is we eliminate the disconnect between patron and bartender. That being a double edged sword – if the customer doesn’t know how to pour or know the details of the beer they are going to sample, that would be a problem. That’s where our staff comes in and are so essential,” Kilborne goes on to say, “Bad information is the worst thing in the beer industry – Self service frees up our staff to speak to the patrons about the beer… really speak about beer profiles, personal taste, hoppy, malt-centric… whatever the customer wants. We get them there” For the patron that seeks something besides Craft Beer (whatever) there is also a selection of fine wines, with plans for an expansion of a wine bar for an even wider selection.
The attention to detail inside Barrel Republic is impressive, with an emphasis on cleanliness. Beer lines are cleaned after each barrel. Glass stations are spotless and a glass sanitizing station is an essential part of the pouring process. Barrel Republic will never repeat kegs, meaning no dedicated handles. Kilborne explains, “There is just too much good craft beer out there to be tasted”.
To top it all off; outside the back door, there’s a rotation of local gourmet food trucks to add to the experience & control the alcohol. (Craft beer is higher in alcohol content than most other beers) The Organic Truck serves items including Seared Ahi Salad, a Vegan Goulash, and even Lamb dishes. We sampled fare from The Pierogi Truck and filled up on ground pork Pierogis (voted “Best Pierogi in the US) and the Potato & Cheese Pierogi – filled with potatoes mixed with fresh farmers cheese & topped with caramelized onions. Awesome! This is a totally new & incredibly enjoyable experience we highly recommend.