1261 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach
Suds lovers, rejoice! It’s your turn to draw that draft, thanks to Barrel Republic’s pour-it-yourself tap room, which opened last November.
“A lot of people compare it to Yogurtland,” says barmaid Nikki, one of the several house cicerones.
The analogy works, but it’s more of a Dave & Buster’s for beer geeks, where you pay-to-play by the ounce with an RFID wristband logging your tab. The arcade of 44 rotating drafts (and 8 pending wines) features an iPad over every tap with instructions, descriptions, and a suggested style of glass. Chalices, snifters, tulips, pints, and all the classics are available on racks throughout the bar. Pull that tap wide open to get the least foamy pour and hit the rinsing station between barley pops for best effect.
“Most beers will stick around for about two weeks before we switch them out,” Nikki explains. “The majority are local. The rest are from the West Coast with pop-ups from throughout the country and the occasional international brew from Belgium, Iceland, or anywhere else.”
The bar’s weathered-wood interior feels like the inside of a barrel, and the open-air front of the house offers a view of party-zone Garnet in all its belligerent glory. But Barrel Republic doesn’t attract your typical Pacific Beach mash-up of misguided testosterone and soon-to-be college dropouts. Rather, it feels like a sports bar (proprietor David Pike is part owner of the Sockers), tactfully placed inside a library of libation, which is equally suited for the novice nerd and the advanced initiate.
“Sometimes people come in asking for shots,” Nikki says. “It’s not that kind of place. We would do great in North Park, but here we can introduce a different crowd to new beers.”
And while not at all overbearing, the Barrel keeps a close eye on the sobriety of its clientele by putting a 36-ounce limit on each wristband before you must return to the front desk to recharge. The resulting atmosphere is a cut above your average P.B. booze box and may well attract North Park hopstergensia to the black sheep of San Diego’s villages for the first time in years.
Trivia Tuesday starts at 7 p.m. and all beers are 20 percent off during Chargers games and happy hour, when tap hounds can try an ounce of every beer in the house for around $30.
- Prices: About 65¢ an ounce
- Attire: Bro in the know
- Hours: Monday–Friday, 4–2; Weekends, 10–2
- Happy: Mon–Fri, 4–6 pm
- Capacity: 156
- Food: Bring your own from neighboring restaurants and food trucks
- Cards: Yes