On our way back from Yellowstone last week, we spent Saturday night in Baker City. It was a family vacation, not a beer vacation, but the Baker City stop was a concession to dear old Dad, so that I could visit Barley Brown's, a prize-winning pub whose beers only rarely show up in Portland.
In fact, the only time I've seen BB's beers here was at Belmont Station's meet-the-brewer last May. The burly Barley Brown brews at that event convinced me that I needed to stop in and try more of their offerings. Between Carla and me, we got around to:
- Turmoil Cascadian Dark Ale: very satisfying balance of malt and hops
- Tankslapper IIPA: Carla's favorite, strong, thick, with citrusy floral hops
- Tumble Off Pale Ale: cloudy orange ale with bracing hops
- WFO IPA: classic Northwest IPA
Barley Brown's was doing a whopping business Saturday night -- we waited about 20 minutes for a table on the restaurant side. While we waited we strolled down Main Street. There wasn't much else in the way of entertainment: a dive bar was empty except for a lone barkeep; the saloon at the Grand Hotel was humming pretty well; I don't recall any other family restaurants open at that time.
We were really pleased with the Barley Brown's food. After a long day on the road and in the motel pool, everyone was hungry for some good eats. We ordered fairly sensibly -- splitting two entrees between the three omnivores in the family, and getting an order of nachos for our vegetarian daughter. The servings were very generous: look at the hunk of pork ribs they served to a 10-year-old girl. The chicken-fried steak that Carla and I split was not all that huge, but that let us help out with the ribs. All the food was tasty -- even the nachos appeared to use decent-quality cheese -- but a special mention goes to the side vegetables. They were steamed exactly the right amount, until they were tender but they hadn't lost any color or flavor. Garnished with some fresh garlic, they were a wholesome and delicious way to round out the meal.
Baker City is a cute little town, with lovely views of the Blue Mountains, even if it didn't have a fantastic brewpub. Barley Brown's (open 4-10 PM daily) makes it a must stop if you're on a long drive out I-84.