Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria

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Barley's Taproom & PizzeriaBarley's Taproom & Pizzeria
Very Good
40 Ratings
Barley's Taproom & PizzeriaBarley's Taproom & Pizzeria

Type: Bar, Eatery

200 E Jackson Ave
Knoxville, Tennessee, 37915-1005
United States

(865) 521-0092 | map

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Ratings: 40 |  Reviews: 24
Photo of BeardedSquash
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

A: I love this building. A big open-air factory-style building with exposed timber rafters and brick walls. Plenty of full-size pool tables upstairs and tons of outdoor seating. Unfortunately, this place can fill up with douche bags at night.

Also, one word of advice for the guys, if you even suspect that you might need to drop a deuce at any point in the evening, do it before coming here. The upstairs bathroom is a glorified 1800's outhouse and you're never guaranteed a door for the stalls downstairs.

Q: The quality of the food is great, and they also stock several good micros. I'll get more specific with those later though.

S: I used to be a line cook, and I know what causes most hang-ups in a restaurant, so my sympathies always lean toward the wait staff for slow food. At Barley's, however, slow food is not the problem, but uneducated wait staff. For the most part, the bartenders are knowledgeable and friendly, and they usually remember and respond to good tippers. But, for a "Taproom", the waiters here are not nearly prepped well enough.

One brief story; my buddy ordered a Dogfish Head Immort Ale, which of course, they didn't have. The waitress brought him a 90 Minute and told him that she knew it wasn't what he ordered, but if he had a problem with it, he could take it up with the bartender. What the fuck?!

S: The beer selection is constantly shrinking, yet the menu stays the same, except the ever-growing number of Sharpie marks. Still, the best selection in town for taps – for now. But seriously, how hard is it to print some new damn beer menus?

F: Love the food. The pizza and calzones are great because they come on home-made sour dough crust. Plus, they have a decent vegetarian selection that includes some rockin' blackbean hummus.

V: Beer and food are reasonably priced, especially on Monday when all pints are $2.

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Photo of wcdoyle
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

If you look at published local *best of* polls (which tend to link brewpub and beer bars together) there are other places that rank higher, but Barley's is my favorite Knoxville beer-food spot.

Yes, it's true that Barley's isn't a brewpub or a dispensing microbrewery, but I don't hold that against them. Barley's makes up for this by offering beer by local (like the on-again, off-again New Knoxville Brewing Company) and regional (like stellar Duck Rabbit and solid Highland) breweries. They also offer a solid selection of some of may favorite nationally known beers (by Rogue and Left Hand). Those looking for PBR or beer from the *big three* macros, will find them on draft at Barley's.

Barley's also has music every night of the week, including who of the local scene's best, RobinElla. They also host a monthly live version of local radio show, The Funhouse which features great, great local bands as well as awesome tracks from indie/alternative greats. In the past there have also been weekly movie nights.

What really makes Barley's for me is the total package. The atmosphere--an old hardware store with original wood floors and warehouse-loft feel--makes it a great comfortable space. And in warm months, there's a huge patio.

The last part of the trifecta for me is the food. Some other locals might squeal at this (sorry Tomato Head Fans), but Barley's has the best pizza in town, offering a choice of regular or whole wheat crust and a solid selection of toppings.

I give the lowest marks for service, b/c it can be uneven. Sometimes, for example, the wait and bar staff are inattentive; however, other times they are awesome. We once had a server give us a discount *and* a free pizza b/c our pizza took longer than usual to arrive (and when it did come, had a huge hole b/c of problems with the crust). Even so, the service is usually solid, even when busy.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

Stopped by here on a Tuesday afternoon around 3pm or so. Six or seven people at the bar smoking like chimneys, so I sat in the back area where the smoke was less noticeable, but still noticeable. Lots of wood all around and the typical squeeks in the floor add that "old world" feel to the place and contribtes a bit of ambience and relaxed feel to the place.

Waitress/bartender was a cute gal and did her job well. Service was great. She was the only one in the whole bar area and she did a terrific job with the food and the drinks even though she had to walk all the way around the bar and then to the back of the establishment.

Food was delicious as usual. Had a feta chesse and pineapple calzone. Yummm.

My only gripe was the outdatedness of the beer menu. I asked on three seperate occasions and the beers of my choosing were no longer available, and one had been unavailable for nearly four months but was still on the menu. That needs some work. Beers tasted fresh and were served in room temp glasses which is always a plus in my book.

A nice rest. in Knox-vegas and worthy of another trip in the future. On a final note, I had two beers and a calzone and the total was around 12 bucks: thats hard to beat no matter where you go!

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Photo of slander
3.4/5  rDev -12.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

I'm setting out with local map in hand. There's that fat line highway and what looks like train tracks, but I think I can dodge 'em both if the bridge is open. I saw construction, so I don't know, don't care, I'll just get out going and see what happens. Found the brewpub pretty easily but it's just for knowin's sake right now; as I'm going to swing by there later; let me start with the bar farther out and work my way back. Nearly ran into an older couple stopped suddenly standing in the middle of the sidewalk, admiring the large Xmas tree on South Gay Street. "Oh, it's beautiful, look how big it is, this one". Pa-lease. We've got a tree at Rock Center that craps acorns bigger than your tree and ours is twice as cool and gets 36,281 times more love anyway. Bah!! See how ornery I become when pent up in the car for many hours on the road and my beer tank is below the fill line...

Did dodge the highway and train tracks and found Barley's down the way. Hey, this place is huge. Where does that staircase go? Note to self: Find out where that staircase goes. Large, open, industrial space, old brick and wood pillars, wood rafters above, pipe & duct work, ceiling fans. A dozen booths & tables up front and beyond a separating stage area and backdrop midway, the rear room holding a long straight wood bar seating less than it looks like on one wall, and some 2 dozen well worn booths & tables of various sizes, shapes & heights throughout the room. Taps run a good stretch of the wall on the barback below mirrors and stained glass paneled arches over blackboards listing tap selections. Random tap handles and the current bottle selections line the area above and a half dozen mounted TV's all down the line facing this way and that. Large framed brewery prints & giant tin signs, plus macro mirrorage & signs adorn.

Seemingly, upwards of 4 dozen taps and a cask selection. Local & regionals (Carolina Blonde, Highland Gaelic Ale, St. Terese's Pale Ale & Oatmeal Porter, Depot Street Express Rails Pale Ale, Catawba Valley Firewater IPA, New Knoxville Pale Ale & IPA, Cottonwood Endo IPA, Duck Rabbit Amber), micros beyond (Anchor Steam, Rogue Dead Guy, Hazelnut Brown, Shakespeare Stout & one of the John Lockers, Bridgeport IPA, Blue Moon, Avery IPA, Left Hand Blackjack Porter, Milk Stout & Sawtooth Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Widmer Hefe, Red Hook somethingorother, and a pair of Abitas), and a few so so imports. Also some 40 bottles & cans (Anchor Porter, 5 Rogues, 4 Sam Smiths, 6 DogFishHeads, a pair each from Stone, Corsendonk & Delirium, and old welcome friend Aventinus).

Was moving well through the Highland Oatmeal Porter, and decided a second beer'd be in order. Seeing the large "New Knoxville" signs on the wall made me think to ask server guy about them.

"What do you mean?"
"I mean, what are they about?
"They're about nothing".
"What do you mean?"
"They not anything anymore. They used to be something but now they're gone" (I'm now not sure this information is actually correct).
"Yeah, but on this beer list, you show 2 of their beers and the cask beer is from them too".
"New Knoxville is long gone and we haven't had anything on cask in 2 years".

You know how easily annoyed I am. I've got to get back up to the bar and have a look at the boards because I think the beer list is junk, outdated or both. Bellied up and ordered one of the worst Scotch Ales of ever. I see there's a note from me to me about that front staircase so I made the climb to see what's to be seen there. Large open room space, like downstairs except upstairs, more brick & wood, with high ceilings and big windows looking out on 2 sides. A dozen booths & tables up front, 6 pool tables just past there, and a 10 seat straight bar to the rear with 20 taps or so on the bar back, all of which appear to be dupes from downstairs. 3 pinball machines and a pair of bowling games as bookends sitting adjacent.

Old building nicely done up but the crowd was youngish and fratpack. Most annoying is that it was somewhat difficult to tell what they've actually got for beer here, and that Scotch Ale, eeesh!!

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Photo of BrewnZ
4.15/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5

As a visitor to Knoxville I was tipped off by all you great BA reviewers of where I could drag my not so beer geeky host. Thank you for pointing me to Barley's Tap House.

This is a huge 2 storey building of raw brick and exposed wood. A former Spaghetti Establishment, so if you've ever been to one of those you'll get the same feeling, but with great beer and no model train running around the ceiling.

The waitress informed me there were 41 beers on tap, and she was very knowledgeable about which ones were local, and which ones were good! She also suggested the broccoli cheese soup - it was great. Place was full when we got there around 8pm, UT football game the next day, and it filled up as later the band finally got around to playing. Definitely too smokey for me at this point, or I just was not drunk enough, so we left.

Overall a great place to get some regional beers and hand out with friends, even large groups could fit in easily on slower nights. If they got some decent ventilation or went non-smoking this place would really kick ass.

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Photo of BryanCarey
3.88/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Barley’s of Knoxville is located in the historic Old City, close to downtown. It is a large establishment with two floors and a bar on each level. The upstairs of Barley’s also features dart boards, pool tables, and a few video games. The downstairs has a few televisions, a larger bar, and a stage where live musical acts play during the evening hours.

Barley’s is known for its great pizzas and also for its good selection of beer. There are other foods besides pizza, but this is generally what the restaurant/tavern is known for as far as food is concerned. When it comes to beer, one can expect to find about forty to fifty beers on tap, with a nice assortment of craft beer to choose from. The upstairs bar has about half as many taps. This isn’t an incredible selection, but it is still pretty good especially when compared to other Knoxville establishments. Prices are reasonable, too, and they are downright cheap if you visit during happy hour. Prices for all pints are cut by $2 each during happy hour, dropping them down to the $1.50 to $3 price level, and making Barley’s one of the best places in Knoxville for bargain brew.

Service at this establishment is generally good and they even offer free samples of beer if you are not sure if you will like a specific product. Don’t be surprised, however, if some of the wait staff has limited beer education. The bartenders seem to know their stuff but the waitresses, as much as they try, often provide misleading information on the beer. They attempt to talk like knowledgeable beer experts, but they don’t always have their facts straight. This is why it is best, anytime you are in doubt about a beer, to just ask for a free sample.

This establishment can get quite noisy and crowded if you visit during the evenings when bands are playing on the main stage. But the trip to Barley’s is worth it no matter when you go, just to sample some of the tasty pizza washed down with a glass or two of your favorite craft brew.

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Photo of mgshearin
2.88/5  rDev -25.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2 | service: 5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 1

We just recently moved to Knoxville, so I had high hopes for this bar after reading the Beerfly reviews. Unfortunately, they didn't have 100 beers on tap and 30-40 in bottles, at least not on the night I was there. I am slowly realizing that we are now in beer hell in Eastern Tennessee, heck Kentucky has a much better selection than what I've found here.

Basically, you can get Lefthand from Colorado, Rogue ales, and North Carolina beers for the American craft drafts. The imports were pretty typical Harp/Bass/Stella/Pilsner Urquell save for Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss. Just a run of the mill bar for what I'm used to. Our waiter was great and very willing to talk about what the local offerings, the nachos were $8 and not much different than ballpark nachos. We went on a Monday, which is $2 pint night, so it was nice that our tab was so low.

I'm sure I'll go back as there's not any place better in town, but I probably won't frequent it much as I only like about 6 beers on the menu, and 3 of those I've drank the hell out of in the last few years. For the true craft-brew entrepeneur, this place is not what others have made it out to be. It is worth a stop if you haven't had many North Carolina beers, but otherwise you won't find anything here that can't be found in most other markets. That said, if you are looking for a place that will carry more than Bud/Coors/Heineken in Knoxville, this place will have something you can drink.

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Photo of CaskofFlyingDog
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Went here for a night of drunken stupidity. We bought a pizza which was excellent. There were two beers I bought: Rogue Shakespeare Stout and Weihenstephaner Hefe Weiss. The had like 100 things on tap and something like 30 or 40 things in bottle. Most people drank Miller Lite of Pabst. Lots of people came just to see the band a drink a cold one. I personally can't stand the kind of music they play at all: crappy funk and Jam Bands. I'd rather get kicked in the testicles than listen to some idiot with a horn. It is kinda a cozy and ill lighted dive. I don't know about any happy hours but i'm sure there is some. We definitley didn't hit it.

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Photo of veech
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

As a local I have been going to this place on and off for 15 years, and I'd have to say, it's the best beer bar in town. I have to admit I don't frequent there as much as I used to (which was mutliple times a week), but the selection is usually outstanding with a special effort made to highlight microbreweries in the Southeastern region. Vintage beer signs, brick and wood are the main motifs of this former warehouse which in the early 90's was a restaraunt known as the Spaghetti Warehouse. It became Barley's Taproom (a 2 location Carolina based chain) in the late 90's. The Knoxville location was bought a few years ago by a local restaraunteur who owns several other high quality establishments. The overall quality of both food and beer have remained high since. However, it is still listed with the other Barley's locations(Asheville, NC & Greenville, SC) on their website, so the business arrangement is not crystal clear. Regardless of ownership, it has evolved into a Knoxville institution. My only caveat for the visiting BA is that it can be a major college hangout at times. This is due to the nightly live music with hardly ever a cover, and $2 pint nights which are Tuesdays now, I think. Despite its huge size(16,000 sq ft) it can get very crowded, smoky and loud. Depending on your age, you may want to avoid it late night if you can help it. The waitstaff is comprised primarily of college kids with a very Bohemian, earthy vibe. In the past this has led to lot of issues with forgotten orders, apathetic attitudes, and slow service. I always attributed it more to excessive bong hits while on breaks than anything else. My brother actually ended up boycotting this place for over a year about 3 years ago due to a friend's altercation with a manager who way overstepped his bounds, but I digress. The service when eating lunch or early dinner is usually pretty dependable, but gets sketchier the later you're there. All that said, the food's very good and the beer selection is great. Parking can be an issue in the Old City with a lot of construction currently going on. Like most places in town, it gets pretty crazy on UT football weekends. Hopefully the timing of your visit will mirror the previous reviews. Overall, the beer trumps the downside.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev +14.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

It's a pleasure to review this taproom. It's simply amazing. Set in an old warehouse, it still has that decor with very high ceilings and raw wood and brick. Very roomy and confortable without being plush. The beers are amazing. About 40 taps downstairs and 6 upstairs, there are about 4 macros and the rest craft brew! Talking about a kid in a candy store... Some examples on tap this weedend were Rogue Saison, Shakespear Stout, and Dead Guy, Avery IPA, Weihenstephaner, and plenty of local flavors from Duck Rabit and New Knox, including a cask conditioned Brown Ale. I know I'm missing a lot so you have to go there yourself. The food was excellent. It's a pizzaria with great frest toppings and appatizers. The staff was about the best I've seen. Extremely knowlegable and eager to help with the selection. They always have music, but the bands were fine, it was just hard to carry on a conversation over the music. That's when we moved to the pool hall upstairs. Amazingly, they have gret beers up there too. The prices are fair and the location may be hard to find, but parking is a breeze. If I lived closer, then they'd have to pry me out of there with a crowbar.

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Photo of erica
4.7/5  rDev +21.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Right, I was in Tennessee this past weekend for my cousin's wedding, so I decided to take my mother to Barley's, located in the Old City area of Knoxville, which I had visited one night last November. I didn't review it then because I was only in the upstairs part, which has much fewer taps, and I figured I couldn't give it a fair review not having checked out the downstairs. This time we were downstairs, on a quiet Saturday afternoon. The building itself is HUGE, I never did ask what it used to be, but it seems as though it was a factory or warehouse of some sort. The music was pretty good too. I like when I can drink with good music. Lots of wood in there. Most of the walls were brick, and on the wall opposite the bar there are really huge dungeon-looking wood doors. Really cool looking. The bar is very long and towards the back of the place, with I'd say 40-50 taps, ranging from Bud Light to Shakespeare Stout. The wall that made up the back of the bar was old-looking mirriors with stained glass trim on top. There were tap handles and bottles lining a high up shelf too. Oh, and besides the fact that it's close to U of T, you can tell it's a college bar as well as a better beer bar because of the Jager tap thing and the small Redbull fridge. That's ok. There's also a little stage area for bands, which according to flyers in the bathroom, they have almost every night.

The beer menu was pretty big, with all those taps and a small description of each beer, and then a bottle list grouped by price, and then "Super Beers" which were mainly Dogfish Head bottles, and Stone A.B. and Ruination. The DFH's were overpriced I thought. But I was there for the draught beer. They did have on the chalkboard Rogue Charlie 1981, which I'd never heard of but found out from a friend it's a rare one and I should try it. No luck, they were out!! :( I was in the mood for an IPA, but I wasn't familiar with any of the IPAs they had, and I forgot if I liked Avery IPA, so I asked for a sample of one, didn't like it, then the bartender just said she'd give me samples of some others, without me even asking! Very generous with the samples. I decided on the Avery IPA. So yes, the service was very good, though at a few points the bartender did seem to be preoccupied with talking to friends, but it wasn't too bad. As for food- The menu was pizzas and sandwiches, quite a few vegetarian items, which I found quite nice. We were pretty hungry, and we ordered a veggie pizza with a whole wheat crust, as I'd heard their pizza is great. It was!! I would say it may have been one of the best pizzas I've ever had. And no more expensive than I'd expect anywhere else.

Overall I would say this is a high-quality bar with great service, a great selection of beers and super-tasty pizza. Prices were excellent- I don't know if they have weekend happy-hour, but our pints were half price!! I would recommend hitting up this place if you're in Knoxville, most definitely.

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Photo of masterbruewer
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Stopped in for lunch on a slow Thursday.

An amazing selection on tap. Beers I can hardly find in bottles were on tap. A wide open warehouse type room with plenty of tables and a long bar with a long line of taps. Looked like pool and such upstairs, but I never made it that far.

A wide geographic range of beers, Left Hand, New Knoxville, Rogue, Abita, French Broad, Dogfish Head, and more than I could remember, but a staggering selection.

The beer was great, I had some old favorites I've never had on draft, TurboDog, Dead Guy Ale, etc. All were cold and fresh and very tasty.

The bartender was quick to serve me, I was one of three at the large bar. But as I was by myself, I was a little miffed that there was no crowd to talk with and the bartender didn't stick around much. She was talking with other staff mostly at the end of the bar.

That said, she was quick, pleasant and really knew her beers.

The food was unremarkable, I had the nachos. They weren't memorable, but they weren't bad.

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Photo of KroMagnon
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Barley's is in the Old City, a few blocks of Downtown Knoxville where historical buildings have been renovated into restaurants, nightclubs and eclectic shops. They feature a great selection of micros, particularly focusing on south eastern breweries. When I was there last I had a Catawba Firewater IPA and an Abita Amber. The restaurant is owned by a local restauranteur who has several other places in town, so I feel very confident this place will be here for some time.

The upstairs bar features darts and pool tables too, but they don't have the same selection upstairs and downstairs. That can be a pain if you get there before the upstairs is open - I know in the past they have had beer that was only available upstairs. Still, the location and atmosphere are great and the beer selection is superb. Their food is really good too, featuring gourmet pizzas and sandwhiches, as well as some eclectic appetizers too like black bean hummus.

As a special hint, if you are coming into town for a University of Tennessee football game, this is a great place to go. You can park in the street for free (although that can be hard to find) or across in a big lot for only $2. A shuttle takes you from Barley's front door to one block from the stadium for $4 round-trip. As of 2004 the crowds are big enough to be interesting but not nearly as big (or as annoying) as the crowds at the dumps close to Campus. (The Old City is really not a bad walk to campus either, actually). The upstairs area is open after 4.00 so if its a night game that's an even better place to wait, as its almost never crowded at all.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Barley's was difficult to map, but in the end pretty easy to get to since you can spot the name on the side of the building. It is a bit painful to find a free parking space in the area, but with some driving around, not impossible.

The atmosphere was nice, even though the smoking sections and non-smoking sections coexist, they do not interfere with one another. I first set at the bar and had little success in getting a bartender to pay attention to me, so I went back to the hostess and grabbed a table. I was waited on before I even got my tush slid into the seat. Had I not had the snafu at the bar I would have given the service a 5. My beers arrive completely full, but were a bit cold, so I had to let them warm a bit.

The selection was very good. If they had some bigger beers on tap it might have gotten the full enchilada. They have 40 taps and only 3 are BMC. One is a cider, and 15 are brown ales, porters or stouts. Good selection of mainly Western, NC beers.

The food was good, the chili could have been served hotter, but it was definitely good.

The highlight of the visit was seeing two lighted panels on the back wall. One was Rock Creek Brewery and the other Potomac. I called Brad Wynn while there to let him know about the panels. He was the head brewer at those breweries (they were the same company) before they went out of business.

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Photo of coasterfreak75
4.8/5  rDev +23.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Make this your stop in Knoxville. My wife and I took two of my kids here for lunch.

The atmosphere was incredible, from the old floors to the impressive collection of tap handles, to the unique beer posters. The music was fun and just put me in the mood to down a few micros.

The quality was just right. The pizza was excellent, we also had the hummus with pita bread. My oldest daughter also had a cookie for dessert, everything was top notch.

The service was outstanding, they only seemed to have one waiter when we were there, mid to late afternoon. But my beer never ran dry and the food was there just as it should have been.

The selection was, to me, next to none. Fifty on tap and that many more in bottles and cans. Also, I had a Highland Oatmeal Porter the served it to me at cellar temp.

All of this adds up to one helluva place to kick back and gain some beer karma as well as feed your face.

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Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria in Knoxville, TN
Place rating: 3.88 out of 5 with 40 ratings