I was impressed by the quality and variety of pubs on my return to Berwick, but blown away by Barrels. I rated the beer in this Guide stalwart highly on a couple of earlier visits, but the pubby atmosphere was on a different level this time.
It’s probably the interior has changed a bit over the decades, and certainly the beer range reflected changing trends (for the better). Football days in Berwick clearly help, as all the Black and Gold fans I saw were drinking the real ales.
The Bear Claw being pulled was from down the road and an unfiltered wonder (NBSS 4); Celt Experience and Sonnet 43 would have made excellent alternatives (sorry Everards). Plenty of interesting craft as well, certainly a better range than the nearby Spoons.
There was plenty of seating in the attractive second room (below) if you wanted to lose an afternoon reading a book, but the Tap was the place to be and hear grim tales coming from the Etihad.
Barrels reminded me of a quirkier Edinburgh’s Bow Bar or Cambridge’s Elm Tree, and the only caveat is that those averse to clutter might struggle. WhatPub calls it an Olde Curiosity Shop ambiance, which is fair enough, but I think many folk will enjoy the varied memorabilia on the walls. The dentist chair at the bar is an acquired taste.
Regular readers may spot some “design” similarities with the Sheppey in Somerset, which like Barrels also features craft beers & live music. Any other similarities are coincidental!
Hard to beat anywhere, and will feature in my next trip far north when it’s warm enough to get my tent out. Great views left out of the door too.
NB It was doing good business; I avoid taking photos with folk in them if possible.