I don't visit the Arena District without stopping by Barley's for one of their excellent brews. If you go to Barley's and order a Bud Light you need to have your head examined.
Parking is accomplished either from street parking, a pay lot at Short North Market, or a nearby garage.
The interior is a lot of wood, with room near the front for a small stage. The bar itself is relatively small, but there is some bar seating set aside from the restaurant seating. There is a nice collection of beer bottles running the length of the establishment.
Great food, although I lament the loss of their outstanding meatloaf. But beer is what it's all about at Barley's. I recommend Alexander's Russian Imperial Stout, St. Nick's Winter Warmer, and Robert Burns Scottish Export Ale.
I had visited this place back in 1999 and had fond memories ... they were dashed on my Oct 2006 visit. First off, they had some decent house beers, about 8 on offer on the night I was there. But you would never know this was a brewpub walking by or even walking in. I have no idea where the brewery even was! Instead, this looked like a "neighborhood bar" complete with Coors and Bud decor. The food was subpar, too. I wish I’d saved more time for Columbus Brewing.
Visited mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. Bar is located just north of the parking lot for the North Market, which makes for a good combination of wandering around the market, then settling in for a beer. The interior is classic bar, lots of dark wood and chrome fixtures. Place feels a bit worn, but in a comfortable way. The service was great, very engaging, offerred up samples, etc. I only had time for one beer, and no food. In addition to their own beers, they had a number of guests as well. Overall, solid beer and a good ambiance.
We went there around 10-11pm on a weekend evening and there were more staff than patrons, including us. Obviously, there was no atmosphere which was accentuated by poor pop music, expeditive service (despite no one being inside) and the very high ceilings which brought the emptiness of the place to annoying levels. They had 2 guest ales and 7 of their own and while I could clearly see I ran out of luck as they had a very good menu one week before my visit and seemed to have only their very regular stuff when I visited, I still found everything ordinary and thin. I guess I would still come back if I stayed in Columbus again, but only because I felt unlucky with the menu.
Both Barley’s locations are a short drive, relatively speaking. This downtown one is across from the convention centre, and in the touristy district. Very safe government area. Very large inside, the brewer was here, the bar was fairly large, the lighting was good. A great place to meet up with people , in my case, a few raters I have met before. Ohio is friendly and relationships count. About 12 taps of micros, mostly home taps but four good guest taps. Service was efficient. The beers are approachable, the stouts and barleys above average. Hops are rationed, and in the pales and scotch beers (at least 3 at both locations) an orangey like flavoring apparent, which the brewer says is not orange flavouring but was not more forthcoming. Worth a stop if in town.
Was in Columbus downtown for a business meeting and stopped here for a quick visit. Second time I have been there and both times the service, brews and food were very good. This location is more of a food location, but the bar is tangible.
Barley’s #1 is on the northern end of downtown Columbus. The interior is fairly standard, and didn’t stand out too much; felt like it needed an update and like it wasn’t all that clean. I ordered a 9-beer sampler. The glasses are small but there are 9, I guess. It was about $7. The beers are all pretty good. The food is decent, standard pub fare, with a few unusual items I didn’t have enough room to try. My salad was okay. The waitress was friendly but went long stretches without coming over, despite the fact everyone else there that night was at the bar. Decent brewpub, but nothing really stands out.
Visited in March 2010. Comfortable, lived in feel. Not scruffy but not too "corporate" either. Beers were solid although I wasn’t blown away with any of them - maybe just unlucky with what happened to be available at the time. When we visited early in the evening the place was so packed solid it was too uncomfortable to hang about - probably something to do with an event at the nearby arena (or maybe the convention centre, I’m not sure). When we went back later on the place was virtually empty. So, rather difficult to form a general view of the atmosphere. Didn’t eat. Somehow, just wasn’t as special as I was expecting on this occasion. Would go back if I was in town again to form a second opinion and, of course, because there would certainly be some new beers for me.
Despite the more limited home beers selection I preferred this location over the bigger but rather boring location on Dublin Road. This one has a lot more of a pub feel, I could imagine myself spending an entire evening in that pub (not the case with the Dublin location). Didn’t try the food and only had one beer (they close early) but I know that these are the same beers as the other location so I know they are kick-ass beers cause I had many of them at the other location.
Stopped in on a Sunday afternoon. Street parking only, but that didn’t seem to pose a problem despite being right in the middle of downtown Columbus. Not too much of a crowd in here and I was able to grab a seat at the bar and get a sample of all the house beers on tap, cask, and nitro. Pretty sold house beers. Bartender seemed knowledgeable and was attentively and courteous. I didn’t order anything to eat, but the menu was the same as Barleys #2, which I had eaten at a couple hours earlier. Very good experience overall.