After a long day of hiking in Olympic National Park, I wandered in to Port Angeles, Washington hoping to find a craft beer joint to take a break from the great outdoors. After consulting my phone, I headed over to Barhop Brewing and Artisan Pizzas, an interesting joint right across the street from the ferry dock to Victoria, BC, Canada. As I rested my weary feet and squinted my eyes to see if I could find Canada, I realized that looks can be deceiving in some instances, and in others what you see is what you get. So grab a beer, hop over to a chair, and listen as I give my thoughts on Port Angeles’ main brewery.
- Beer – Since I had a designated driver and was tired and thirsty from a day of hiking, I managed to try every beer on their tap list over the course of a few hours. The brews overall were average, with the styles sticking to mostly traditional offerings and nothing delving in to the experimental or exotic. By now even the casual reader probably knows my preference for breweries to take a few chances and get creative, which in my opinion Barhop does not. The most interesting thing on the tap list at the time was an Altbier and an ESB, though my favorite was their English style porter which had deep, malty flavor with a full body and slightly roasty character. Though decent quality beers, I found the lack of diversity and inventiveness to make for a bit of a lackluster offering. Score: 2.5/5
- Brewery – I’m not sure what the origins of the building that housed Barhop were, but my guess was something to do with shipping, whether by boat or train I couldn’t say which as both routes are close by. Innocuous and nondescript from the front, the interior of the building is cavernous, even with the brewing area and tap room taking up a significant chunk of the floor space. The dimly lit interior is somewhat reminiscent of a sports bar meets pizza parlor, albeit a shabby one with a fishing theme to go around. Seating is never an issue as approximately one million tables and chairs are available inside. The prime seating is the outdoor tables and chairs, though the risk of being shat on by a seagull is high. On a clear day they afford the intrepid beer explorer some excellent views of the sound and distant Canada, as well as watching the ferry from Victoria dock mere blocks away. In stark contrast to the façade of the brewery, the pizza that comprises the other half of their title and purpose was surprisingly delectable. The pizza menu is expansive, and the portions are respectable, though the prices are a bit steeper than expected. They are open every day of the week should you be in the area, which is good news as they seemed to be the only brewery game in town. Score: 2.5/5
- Ambiance and Entertainment – Likely the biggest draw for Barhop are the televisions for watching football games (or whatever else might be on). A smattering of bar games adorns the interior and occasional live music can be found emanating from a dedicated band area in the back. In my opinion the best contribution to the entertainment factor here is the people watching and sunbathing that can be had from the front patio. With so many people getting on and off the ferry, it never disappointed, though the lack of consistent live entertainment did. Score: 2.5/5
- Location – They found an excellent location for views and proximity to the downtown area should the pizza or beers not keep you at the brewery. Close by are tons of neat shops, restaurants, and bars, along with a quick ferry ride to Canada if you want to explore another country. Parking can be a bit dicey depending on the time of day but if you don’t mind walking a few blocks you should be fine. Score: 3.5/5
- Customer Service – The bar staff were delightful and had great pizza suggestions when I couldn’t make up my mind. I never had to wait long to place an order or get my beer and our food was made and served surprisingly swiftly and brought to the table to boot. Even as the place became busier as the afternoon and evening wore on, they managed to keep things moving without long waits or upset customers. Score: 3.5/5
Total Score: 14.5/25
Final Thoughts: A location with quite a bit of potential is marred by a ramshackle appearance and lackluster beer in my opinion. The biggest redeeming quality is the pizza which I found to be top notch. Certainly worth a visit if you are hungry, and the beer is refreshing if not inspiring, but I can’t say that I would make a return trip in the future unless they made some changes.