Monday, November 4, 2013

Brewery Tour #23 – Barrington Brewery & Restaurant

One of the best ways to spend a summer weekend in Massachusetts is to visit the area of Lenox and attend a concert at Tanglewood. It may be a pain in the neck for most MA residents to trek to, but the concerts (primarily performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra) and other activities in the area easily make it worthwhile. Norman Rockwell’s museum is close by, as are lovely hiking trails and enjoyable restaurants. One restaurant that may be of interest to beer fans is the Barrington Brewery. While technically in the town of Great Barrington, it’s an easy eleven-mile drive from Lenox. DBNE stopped in during a late summer visit to the area.

I wish all our reviews could be positive. But unfortunately, the Barrington Brewery reminded us that not every establishment can impress. In fact, some can be downright unfortunate.

Fitting for the country setting and the style of food offered, the restaurant reminds you of an old barn or come-as-you-are country steakhouse. Unsurprisingly, the interior is kitschy. It appears rundown and not in a cute, rustic, or other intentional way. The place needs a makeover, badly.The layout is simply weird. An unwelcoming entrance practically puts you right into the server’s station. And from watching many episodes of the TV show Restaurant Impossible, we began to easily point out everything that should be fixed or redone.  It begs for attention as it has a world of potential that appears neglected. But if they’re making money, who are we to advocate for change.

Quick, attentive service is normally a positive. But our service here was so much so that we quickly felt an enjoyable leisurely dinner was not in the cards. Our server was so attentive we felt rushed.

The BBQ food defined mediocrity. Nothing was wrong, but nothing warrants a return visit in the slightest. Throw in the fact that fries cost extra (at a pub?!) and you’re not winning us over anytime soon.

Unfortunately, the beer was no better. We tried their brown ale, pale ale, and a stout. All three had a noticeably slick and thin mouthfeel we found deterring. As for flavor, the brown ale and pale ale both tasted fine – albeit the kind of fine you say with a shrug of the shoulders while cocking your head to the side. The stout actually smelled quite nice but then let us down immensely on flavor (in addition to its poor texture).

The four major areas to judge here – food, beer, venue, service – all receive negative marks from DBNE. It’s unfortunate that the one area in which they excel (speedy service), they do too well thereby causing a negative, rushed experience. Shame.

You may notice the word “unfortunate” appears more than a couple times in this review. That’s no accident. That word sums up our visit. I wish I could recommend the Barrington Brewery to anyone who is at least driving right by its parking lot, but I can’t – at least not for dinner. If you’re looking for a quick, no-fuss lunch of a simple hot dog, burger, or sandwich along with a simple beer, the restaurant may serve you fine. Give it a shot and see if you concur. Otherwise, although restaurants may not be abundant in the area, you’re still better off elsewhere for dinner. Might we suggest a place in downtown Lenox called Brava? It’s no brewpub, but it offers a concisely well-curated beer (and wine) menu, a more refined and warm interior, and a thoughtfully modern food menu focusing on tapas. Brava is a must visit and will please any beer fan who opts to accelerate past the Barrington Brewery.  

Barrington Brewery and Restaurant
420 Stockbridge Road
Great Barrington MA 01230

27 Housatonic St
LenoxMA 01240
(413) 637-9171