Union Barrel Works
Active Beers: 21
Beer Ratings: 135
Beer Avg: 3.68
Taps: 6 / Bottles: -
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 34 | Reviews: 32 | Show All Ratings:
3.65/5 rDev -6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
A decent brewpub in the middle of no where. I first started going here about three years ago. Most of the beers are German/English styles. I enjoy their Hefe-Weis and Dark Lager. The food is really good and reasonably priced. I have always had decent service in here, nothing special but a great place to come to once or twice a year. I recommand the Smoked Trout soup which is homemade and just amazing, also I enjoyed the Elk meatloaf as well. I had a few things here that I didn't care much for but over all the food is good.
12-24-2012 20:00:45 | More by mildlybitter75
4.38/5 rDev +12.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This place is close by so I get there quite often. The Mai Bock is one of my favorites. Supriseingly, the quality of the beer is not consistent. Sometimes it is the best beer in the area. Other times it is not what I expected. Actually at time I am a little dissapointed. Overall, I still believe this is the best of their brews and be the one I recommend.
Since this is a beer pub, a lot depends on the food which can also add or subtract to the taste of the beer. I am just amaized that the Mai Bock is so much like the beer from Erie Brewing called Railbender which is also one of my favorites.
12-18-2011 21:00:40 | More by etop8222
3.85/5 rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $
Appearance/Atmosphere : Brick building blends organically well with surrounding environment. Rustic and early feel. Inside had a nice and spacious feel with a lengthy bar that was dark maple or oak that went well with the dark wood floor. Around were small scattered signs and memorabilia such as Pabst signs and Unibroue. Off to the right sat the array of tanks show prominently through the glass enclosure. Comfortable, rustic with a cozy welcoming feel even on the first time.
Quality: The beers were clean, mostly lagers, though most seemed to have a similar flavor or grain bill running thoughout with exception of their IPA hop knockers which was noticeably malty. Nothing over the top flavor wise, sitting comfortably in that safe zone for acceptance which may be a product of its environment and area (Yuengly country with mendendite church right down road) which is a good business model. Finding that special neglected niche of lagers that will turn the local crowd into support while still drawing in outsiders.
Service: ok I was here sipping my first beer at 11:20am so didn’t have a lot of competition for refills or conversation. Knowledgeable staff, especially bartender who was well versed on the beers and brewer’s philosophy of lager brewing.
Selection: Very good selection, most were lager based with 10 beers on tap, one on engine. Something for everyone with a summertime selection of maibock, lager, pilsner, octoberfest, kolsch as well IPA for the ale fiends all suitable for the August weather. An simcoe pale recently kicked as well the Brugg Belgian I was so looking forward to.
Food: good selection of food, wraps, sandwiches, as well prices. All can be found on website. Fairly extensive, nothing gourment, just good ole fashion bar food again well suited for area. Pricing was good as well. Again as with their beer selection something to appease everyone.
Value: $3.25 pounders. Not matter what you drink from the ipa with hops to the 10%abv dopplebock wobbly bob. Pricing was a promotion that brewer said will stick around. How can you go wrong with prices like that 6 beers under $20 with good pairing of food value makes this a good lunch time spot.
08-25-2011 01:40:25 | More by beerthulhu
2.85/5 rDev -26.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4 | $$$
I dont know what the deal is with the beer at this place but all of their beers seem watered down to me. Not to mention that every beer from the IPA to the Stoudts to the Hefe all have the same weird kind of a soapy after taste. And I am not the only one who has said it. I know of about 5 other people that agree. The food is better than average and I would go there to eat but to fill a growler or sit at the bar and have a couple of pints... I dont think so. How anyone could sit and drink more than one of their beers and think that it tastes like it should is crazy. I do like the place. It is a cool little brew pub but they need to improve on their beers. I dont know if it their cleaning solutions or the water that they us but they need to change something.
07-11-2011 21:16:30 | More by Ibrewmyownbeer
3.38/5 rDev -13.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
Overall, an interesting place. GPS took us (g/f & me) directly to the parking lot. From the road it was a bit of a guessing game on which lot to enter. The stone lot is the one you want. From there it took some looking about to figure out where the entrance was. That found, we entered through the great door at the rear of the building. Once inside, we were struck by the welcoming and intimate atmosphere. Down an open hallway, the space opened up & the intimacy began to dissolve. What looked like a very nice dining room on our right was not open during our visit. A glass area showcases a bit of the pub's brewery & separates the dining room from the bar area.
In the bar, the space opened up quite a bit, too much for my taste. Aesthetically, the bar area was far too open and spartan feeling. The large light walls dwarf and distract from the beautiful old world wooden bar. The bar held quite a bit of memorabilia and curiosities of various origin and interest, it was far too cluttered & busy to take in the collected goodies. There are some great beer adverts from Reading and Sunshine on the walls. Also spotted two 3D wall mounted sculptures. Very nice pieces, but presented in awkward spaces making it difficult to take their entirety in.
The upper 1/2 - 2/3 of the wall in the bar goes undecorated. This I found to draw my attention away from the stunning pressed tin ceiling. Ironicaly, in the more intimate entry area, the ceiling was one of the first things we noticed, and yet there we were with lots of blank space surrounding the lovely ceiling, and the void on the walls kept distracting the eye from ceiling's artistry.
I'd suggest some large signage, mural(s) and / or trompe l'oeil balcony / loft type stuff up on the vacant part of the wall in order to maintain visual interest and draw the eye back up to that gorgeous ceiling.
It's clear that the brewpub has become a part of the local social landscape. The NFL playoffs were on and a couple people were there to watch the game. The bar is one large room. There are no cloisters to tuck ones-self away & enjoy the paper without the sound of the tv resonating about the room & into the ear. Because of the acoustics of the space and absence of sound deadening material, it is even audible in the gents (a positive for fans whose game is on).
Onto the beer - there were plenty on tap. We decided to forgo the sampler and dive right in. I had a Kolsch and she a stout. They were fair beers. Our initial impressions are not that memorable, beyond the fact that they appeared a bit cloudy, with a nose on the Kolsch that the flavor didn't support. What struck us most of all, was the discrepancy between the written descriptions of the brews, and the actual taste.
Round two - Me - Lager, her - Uncle Fester. Immediately the Lager hit me with some astringency. Not too overpowering, but most certainly distracting from the rest of the taste spectrum. As I was sipping lager (a beer style I usually enjoy gulping) my girlfriend asked me to taste the Uncle Fester. I did and was slammed with hardcore sweet & sour astringency. It took us both an hour or so & some coffee / water to get the flavor out of our mouths.
On hindsight, bypassing the sampler was not the wisest move.
To sum up, this was a very nice place. It's clear that a good deal of work has been invested in maintaining, restoring and showcasing the stunning architecture of the structure. From the honey colored wood flooring to the painted tin ceiling, to the interestingly unique local beer ephemera. We also had a little desert which was exquisite. There too, the care and pride were evident. It is unfortunate that the beer did not follow.
I may stop again if I find myself in the area, undecided.
01-19-2011 00:42:27 | More by pcar333
3.3/5 rDev -15.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5 | $$
Stopped for lunch earlier today at the behest of some friends.
The place was deserted upon our entrance with the staff seeming somewhat bewildered to find 4 people sitting at the bar at 11:30am. The barkeep handed us beer menus and did the run-down, noting changes.
We ordered beers and they were really awesome about asking us if we wanted to order food before a party of 20 put in their order. We did, I got fish & chips (pretty good stuff) and the food was out fast.
Beers were decent, nothing to write home about, and a few that we tried were strangely acidic, notable their stout and dopplebock. Not sure if it's intentional, line cleaning or infection. One of the people who suggested this for lunch did not remember the dopplebock being tart.
However, we got a sample of their new Simcoe Pale Ale and that was the shit! Had remorse that we had to go without a pint of it.
Decent, but not a huge fan, all things considered.
10-13-2010 04:22:56 | More by SFLpunk
3.55/5 rDev -9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
I've hit Union Barrel Works a few times and always leave with the same impression...Clean, friendly atmosphere with quality beer and food. There is a lot of character in the old building and the classic bar.
The early dinner atmosphere is great for family, but I haven't been there later on a weekend, so I don't know if it livens up after the early birds.
The wait staff is helpful and knowledgeable and service has always been prompt. The food is standard brewpub (I am a fan of the sweet potato fries) and hasn't disappointed. The number of beers on tap has increased over time and there's a full range of styles to choose from. The Mai Bock and Kolsch are top notch.
Union Barrel Works is not spectacular, but it is a solid brewpub that I'll continue to frequent.
09-27-2010 20:22:05 | More by 007
3.7/5 rDev -5.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
A- Well lit. Lots of wood. Very Pa Dutch type atmosphere. Old school beer tackers and pictures (sunshine and reading). Very cabin or farmhouse type feel. Couple of tvs at the bar
Q- Very clean inside the pub side, as well as in the commode
S- Service was just ok. Bartenders were helpful, though our waitress was a less informative, and did forget my side to my dinner ( I wasn't that concerned... just fyi )
S- Had a decent amount of beers to choose from... I tasted 12 of them, my favorite being the Kolsch and Double Barrel vienna lager. Okfest was decent, the rest were just ok
F- I thought the food was better than the beer, and was pretty reasonably priced. Good selection of different apps, sandwiches, salads, and entrees. I had a chicken and pasta in vodka sauce that was good... no complaints from anybody in my group
V- I'd say pretty decent for the price. Our bill (gf and I) was mid $40s... thats a sampler of 10 2oz beers and a pint of 2 others, and both dinners (I had leftovers too)
Check it out.
11-19-2009 00:41:41 | More by bbeane
3.35/5 rDev -14.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3 | $$
Latest Update - I had the fish sampler (entree). Tuna = Excellent! Prepared very well and seasoned very well. Salmon = Ugh... Not so Fresh. The server said the chef smelled the salmon and shrugged his shoulders.
So... we're back to hit-or-miss. And I understand them serving the sub-par Bob and Maibock (see below) because throwing away an entire batch is very costly. But something must be said to serving it while knowing it is not the quality that your customers have come to expect.
Nov '10 Edit - New Chef! Big difference! The changing of the guard was over the summer and I wanted to visit several times before reporting back. Talk to the barender, Justin - he's a straight shooter and will not steer you wrong.
Also, I saw some notes on off-flavors - that is attributed to a cooling system failure over the summer that they have since recovered from. The latest (November) Wobbly Bob is most excellent.
Oct '09 Edit - My first review (A-) was sans food. Also, I've been back many many times since. See updates in parenthesis below. Score was updated to reflect an average of all visits. (Original Review 08/07. Update 10/09)
Atmosphere: Clean and Classy. They have some nice Reading Beer memorabilia on the wall. Nice touch and not as cluttery as Stoudts. I think the "cold" feeling described in other reviews has more to do with the fact that the place is brand new, but I think it "warms" up well during the busier hours. I think the memorabilia adds to the warmth a little. (Keep in mind, it's a stone throw or so from hundreds of Antique shops). If the bar is packed, there is usually a nearby barrel to rest your beer on... also a nice touch. Also, an HDTV at the bar. (Update - No Change)
Quality: The place is new. Still very clean. Tom (the owner) is obviously focused on Quality. (Update - Still very clean in the dining area.)
Service: The service is VERY friendly - every time I'm there. Logistically, it can be confusing on your first visit, though. (see notes below). I know that's not the server's fault, but it affects the service overall and makes it very difficult to newcomers. (That's the only black-eye for service that I've observed, though.) (Update: Bar Service is still very friendly - the rest of the staff can seem stressed or preoccupied at times - even when there are only two tables to wait on in the entire place.)
Selection: Solid. Kolsch, Maibock, and Bob are highly recommended. At the time of this review, the Kolsch is my favorite. It's so clean and crisp. Very refreshing after playing 18 at Fox Chase around the corner. Missing an IPA or a DIPA. The APA is dry-hopped well, though. (Update: Tom is trying his hand at IPAs and even a Blonde Maibock!)
Food: The food here is done well. I haven't tasted anything exceptional there yet, though. If I do, I'll adjust the score accordingly. (Update: The food is hit or miss - and, honestly, much more likely to miss. I've had a couple of good meals, but they are few and far between. I've had the crab cheesecake dip with a hot plate and stone-cold middle. I've had wings with so much freezer-burn that hot sauce couldn't help. I've even had the french onion soup that was so bland and "off-taste" that I wondered if they used the water from a puddle outside. Also, I need to ask... could having your son as the "Executive" Chef be a potential conflict of interest? My advice: Stick to their tasty beers!)
Value: $4.50 for samples of all seven. If your in the area, there's no reason to not stop by. (Update: No change - definitely stop by for the beer)
NOTE - The parking is in the back, off of Church Road. It the gravel / chipped stone lot. The entrance is quite deceiving. It's the HUGE door. Once inside, the bar is all the way at the other end on the right.
Finding the exact building from the back parking lot is the challenge. Getting to that point is easy. Take the PA TP to Exit 286. Drive straight after the tolls. Pass the first set of lights (Rt 222). Make a left at the next set (Rt 272) where the Turkey Hill gas station and Dunkin' Donuts are. Make a left at the first light you come to (after about a mile - you'll see the Sunoco). That's Church. The parking lot is the gravel pit approaching on the left.
10-30-2009 19:55:32 | More by BlitzShadow
3.88/5 rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
The end of the 3rd of endless more weeks, I can tell already. Been seeing a lot of central Pennsylvania in my traveling to and fro the Maryland panhandle, got a little list of what's where even. Being in fro-mode Thursday, I figured I'd do din here. Took a little doing what with the way it's tucked in that can't get to easily from here but I found it (you can no hide)...
Brewing vessels in the front windows of this converted early 1900's Hardware Store; viewable in a room behind glass up front somewhat hidden by tall shutterings. Off to the left, a straight wood laminate topped bar seating 13, rounded on the ends and holding a wood handrail, my forearms teetering there. A tower of 6 on both ends with little barrel tap handles mostly, and yes, I spotted the handpump down below. Elaborate, ornately carved wood barback unit; a large mirror on center and smaller ones to both sides with shelving holding slight glassware & bric-a-brac, steins, candles, and vintage Reading Brewery pieces; old bottles and figurines. Inlayed mirrored pieces above, and cupboards below. Naturally, there's a large mounted fish, a harpoon & a rifle atop the unit. Wine fridge down the end of the bar and some bottles displayed above. So you know, there's no booze here, just wine & Pennsylvania beer.
High pressed tin ceilings painted green with matching crown molding & ducts. Drop buttercup lamps above the bar, spinning tops elsewhere, and a single mounted flatscreen in the front corner. A set of barrels with hightop chairs sit adjacent to the bar and roughly a dozen square tables lay scattered throughout the room. Large windows down past the bar looking over the brewroom corner from there and from the rear dining room. Brewerania mania; Reading & Sunshine Premium Beer pieces ev-ry-where; signage, a clock, framed trays, coasters displays, mirrors, blackboards, maps & prints. Old bottles lining the front sill, with lots of old signage & prints for sale, and the framed area over the bathroom displaying barrels, beer crates, can pyramids and steins. Beer trays from Hohenadel, Blatz, Piels, Ortlieb, Ballantine and other breweries mostly gone line the space above the brewroom windows, and just lots of vintage Pennsylvania brewery pieces; Yuengling, Rupperts, Reading & Sunshine Brewing; it's good shit.
Rear dining room holds 2 dozen tables in a large space, wallpapered, with a cream ceiling boxed in red with dark green crown molding, a very sharp room. Forward brew room views, some very good artwork & giant quilts. Old town Reamstown pics & an apothecary cabinet in the hallway along the way.
6 beers on the primary sampler (Kolsch, it was Kolschy, not bad; Dortmunder Lager, clean, a good lager; Maibock, some decent maltiness; Round Boy Stout, a little chocolatey, thin & sour; Hop Knockers IPA, good hoppiness, not over the top; Uncle Fester, a Marzen, and um, no), and then you can hit the seasonal samples by the each, which I did because, you know, I was here, and they had them (Wobbly Bob Dopplebock, just not so Dopply; Pilsner, Saaaaz, not too bad; Blonde Bock, meh; Hefe, not crazy hazy, but some decent banana & clove; Lemon Wheatgrass, lemon pledge something not in a good way; and I added the cask IPA, which was better than the non cask version, to round out the dozen. The IPA's, cask and not, were the best of the lot and everything else was fair to middlin' on down. Seems like a good few of them were off style.
Foodings, a bowl of the smoked trout chowder, oh, smoky goodness, and would I like fresh prepper on that? Yes, please. And the catch of the day Georgia peach almond salmon (don't it sound good?). Salad? I guess the orange vinaigrette on the side, vegetable, the carrots please, and a starch, um, sweet potato fries? And it showed up like that. Yes, more pepper please, the salad, and then again the salmon, all sweet peached & slivered almonded up, it was quite good. The sweet potato fries came with a side of maple syrup for dipping, which I did, once. It was wrong, I did it a second time again to be sure, I was right the first time, it was wrong, I'll never do it again.
Tunes, first Pete doing an acoustic Drowned, I'm thinking from The Secret Policeman's Ball, and then someone doing an acoustic Little Red Corvette, and Chris Issak doing Wicked Games, and I was thinking how meh the beers were overall as the Sundays' "Here's where the story ends" came on and thought, "Hmmn". Again, I liked the IPA, otherwise, the beers were mostly okay (this is why we do samplers), and I had a very good meal, the smoked trout chowder's where it's at. Suzie was a great server, barside; attentive, friendly, and she was always there with the pepper for me. A clean, comfortable place I think needs another look.
10-21-2009 15:28:03 | More by slander
Union Barrel Works in Reamstown, PA
88 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.