On Saturday, March 1st, the Barley Mow Craft Beer House had their grand opening in West Reading, PA. They opened their doors at 11:00 AM to an already substantial crowd that had gathered and braved the cold, waiting to get their first look at the new bottle shop. The eager crowds kept rolling in throughout the day, proving that what this unique craft beer digs has to offer is in demand.
Steph and I stopped in around 1:00 pm and found the place jumping. As soon as we entered we came across a few Berks Homebrew Club members “holding court” in the lounge area just inside the front entrance. Though the place was crowded, the vibe was relaxed (though owners Claire and Peter never stopped moving, slinging brews and stocking shelves).
The general seating area is at the front of the building, consisting of a lower level with stools and wall-mounted ledges and a central stairway that leads to a loft-like area with further seating. It is warm and inviting, with various beer-related quotes on the walls, a tribute to the wonderful humulus lupulus and some pretty awesome light fixtures.
Beyond that you enter into the bar area, where there were t-shirts available for purchase on shelves opposite the bar (more on the taps in a bit). Finally, past the bar, you come to the heart of The Barley Mow: the shelves upon shelves of delicious craft beer in bottles, bombers and cans. The decor in the bar and merchandise area is decked out in beautiful stone work and rich deep-colored wood. When they said “coffee shop feel with beer” they were right on.
The bar currently has four taps, pulling from two sixtels and two halves. On opening-day they were pouring Troegs Nugget Nectar, Stone Stochasticity Grapefruit Slam IPA, Elysian Dragonstooth Oatmeal Stout and Victory Swing Session Saison (which is what I had). At the bar we got to chat briefly with Claire, who was tapping the beers, but she had droves of thirsty patrons to attend to.
With brews in hand, we made our way to the shelves to peruse the selections. The shelf area isn’t exactly huge, but the selection is remarkably vast. They intend to turnover beers quickly, so there is always something new to find. One minor, but very important detail, every single solitary bottle and can was labeled with the price. Super kudos for that.
In the back there is a cooler that houses a selection of brews that is different from that on the shelves and, also, there is cheese in there. Mmmm….cheese. There were cardboard four and six pack holders for your pick and mix delight as well as growlers and some really wonderful wooden holders emblazoned with The Barley Mow logo.
I was happy to see most of the customers not only browsing, but buying. A particularly hot beer was Lagunita’s Sucks which flew off the shelf. Each time the supply was depleted, however, it was restocked without missing a beat. Steph and I each left with a nice mix of brews, one of which will be featured in the very near future in another Bargain Brews post.
Though we heard reports of some minor opening-day hiccups later in the evening, such as the tapped beers getting kicked, these are good problems to have and just goes to show how excited the community was to check the place out.
Overall, the atmosphere is perfect, the prices and selection are great and you can really feel how much love and effort are poured into this establishment. A great place to fill a growler, grab some bottles or hang out for a pint, The Barley Mow is a welcome new beer spot in West Reading. We wish them the best of luck and continued success, and we’ll definitely be back again…and again.
Oh…and while we were there we heard the music of Radiohead and later Bright Eyes wafting through the air. So, extra groovy icing on the awesome cake!