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Allston just wasn't ready for craft beer

The owner of the soon-to-be-reborn Joshua Tree today said its brief foray into a purveyor of craft beers just wasn't working out.

Julian Bolger appeared before the Boston Licensing Board to seek permission to change Barley Hall back into Joshua Tree.

"We wanted to try a slightly different concept, and unfortunately we got it wrong," he told the board, which votes tomorrow on the name-change request. Bolger said he wasn't sure if the problem was marketing - people may not have made the direct connection between "Barley" and craft beer - but the end result was an expensive mistake because people just weren't hopping to the place.

Bolger said the change back to Joshua Tree will involve no major changes in the establishment's interior.

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Comments

They'll just have to make do with the tiny selection found at Sunset and Deep Ellum.

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They used the name change to raise prices. And putting burgers in tin cans? Whatever happened to regular plates? Gag me. The Tavern is a much better spot.

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The more pressing question remains, Akon: Why would you ever eat there?

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That's why his bars are underwhelming for their size. That spot used to be Tonic. Then the Sox and Patriots won championships, and he realized OH MY GOD BOSTONIANS CARE ABOUT SPORTS LET'S CHANGE THE NAME AND HANG A BUNCH OF MEMORABILIA.

Of course, their greed and ineptitude (and inability to grease the right wheels?) got their license suspended repeatedly, because they decided to serve minors. So they needed a new image, and they decided to come up with an idea that several Allston bars already do and do well. Of course, nobody's going to bypass Sunset and walk all the way over to their location, so it, of course, fell short of expectations.

Julian is a bad guy and a bad businessman, and I look forward to watching him fail again.

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Any of the craft bars open or recently opened are doing extremely well. They focus on craft beer, lots of local drafts, a cask or two, not many TVs, clean tap lines, and constantly changing interesting taps.

Barley Hall only had the main stream craft beers, and in the world of craft beer, it is all about the rare, the new, and the extreme.

He can blame himself for not doing the research into what the craft beer consumer is interested in, is the market saturated, how is he different than deep ellum, sunset, etc.

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The place has no more craft beer than any other bar in Allston...besides maybe the Sil.

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This list of craft beer is great. A lot of small producers you can't get anywhere else. The draft list is incredibly well thought through, full of careful choices for a variety of flavor.

http://www.barleyhall.com/content/drinks

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That list is a joke

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That's 7 beers on the "craft" list, at least one of which is consistently served at The Draft.

Plus, it's basically Tavern in the Square Redux (not that I have anything against Tavern).

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There's not a single beer on that menu that i haven't found at a bar with a halfway decent beer list. I can get Cisco, Magic Hat and Brooklyn Brewing at more than a few bars in Faneuil Hall and as much as I love the Green Dragon, I don't exactly look to them as the shining star of craft beer goodness.

If I'm going out for craft beer, which I do often, I look for an extensive beer list that allows me to choose between several options of each style.

It was a good start, as far as beer selection goes, but with Sunset's revolving door of wonderful drafts and Deep Ellum's huge selection, that list is pretty skimpy and it wouldn't be my choice.

That being said, I'm a home brewer who goes to craft brew bars to find beers I've never tried before, so I know that my standards are a bit on the higher side.

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This "list of craft beer" is crap. Call a place "Barley Hall" and then serve swill like Coors Light? Is there even barley in that, or is it all rice? The rest is by and large big commercial brews of various types. Stuff you could get at any convenience store. Craft beer? Not so much. Honestly, nothing you "can't get anywhere else."

It's preposterous, and if you really think that's a great list of craft beer, you're just ignorant and should go educate yourself. Go somewhere decent with a good selection, like Sunset or Bukowski's, and drink for a while. But more likely you're being sarcastic and pulling our legs.

I mean, sweet jeebus, that's like calling yourself a gourmet restaurant because you have Dijon mustard for your burgers.

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Check out the draft lists for Redbones and Olde Magoun Saloon in Somerville and tell me again how "great" that crapft beer list is?

http://redbones.com/brews.html
http://magounssaloon.com/?page_id=253

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"It's preposterous, and if you really think that's a great list of craft beer, you're just ignorant and should go educate yourself. Go somewhere decent with a good selection, like Sunset or Bukowski's, and drink for a while. But more likely you're being sarcastic and pulling our legs."

No, I'm being serious. I can't believe you think I'm ignorant. I've never been to Bukowski's but I feel a little bit strange going into ethnic bars.

I really do think this is a great list of craft beer. I'm bummed to see this place not working out because it gives you the opportunity to try out a lot of cool craft beer like Harpoon and Long Trail.

Has anyone tried Sierra Nevada? I'm trying to branch out.

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What you need is a Blue Moon. The ultimate in crafty beers.

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Does that mean the owner has an ethnicity? Or the patrons? Or only some of them?

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As the name implies, it's the bar itself that has a specific, identifiable ethnicity rather than the owner or the patrons; i.e. a bar with decor, food, and drinks and general vibe like a 1920s Chicago speakeasy, or a Mexican pulqueria, or a French bisto, or a British pub has an identifiable ethnicity; the lobby bar at the airport Hilton, on the other hand, does not.

But of course, you knew that, and you were probably making the point that too many people use "ethnic" to mean "some ethnicity other than whitebread," in which case you should have said so.

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Isn't Bukowski's a Polish social club? Is he a war hero?

I think that makes it an ethnic bar.

Listen, if they get the new Bud Light Platinum craft beer in there, I'll go check it out.

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before the master troll. Well done, sir.

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Why would I go out of my way for this list? It's a fine list for a neighborhood bar, but a place trying to be a destination needs a better hook, especially when the competition over on Brighton Ave. is so magnificent.

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I see what you did there.

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Here's a test. Go to Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont. Tell me how many of the beers on Barley Hall's defunct list you can find in the store. What a joke.

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I think Boston could really support something like this: http://apexbar.com/menu/

Not sure the open courtyard "beer garden" with 60 on site bike parking spaces would work out here, though.

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A few years ago, the one thing I wish I could have here that I had seen in Berlin, Dresden, Zurich, Prague...pretty much every European city I had ever been to was: a beer garden. It might take a bit of ingenuity in Boston with the temperatures but not impossible.

Then just last year, I was down in Orlando and stumbled into a chain called World of Beer, which seems to be a Florida chain that has finally started to get into other states. All beer, no food...but TONS of beers. A whole wall of bottle imports in glass refrigerator displays, a whole wall of taps. And the one I went to had open air seating as well as the ability to take the windows out to open the whole floor to the outside.

Some combination of these two ideas would probably do well here...as long as we don't try and open it in Allston. Those people aren't ready for craft beer and we'd probably be convicted for manslaughter when Paul Berkeley and the ACA had a heart attack reading our license request.

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Surely there must be room for a rooftop beer garden in the buildings going in? Nice lookout over the water, maybe catch some music filtering up from the Pavilion nee Harborlights, and a growing population of people in walking or stumbling distance.

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Daedalus has a rooftop patio in Harvard Square that's pretty large and popular when the weather's nice.

Not quite a "beer garden" but I guess it's something. 10-12 beers.

That American Craft place in Brookline had a sidewalk seating area I think, but they closed down.

Deep Ellum has a back patio which ought to be open soon if not already.

Lower Depths has a (recessed) sidewalk seating area.

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There are plenty of good places to sit outside and drink a beer, but most of them require food ordering to access the patio. Anyway, here are a few I've enjoyed:

Parish Cafe
Rattlesnake roof deck
Salty Dog (touristy I know, but still very pleasant)
Many others...

But none of these are true beer gardens, so I get what Kaz is talking about. What we need in Boston is a guy with a refrigerated cart that has one or two kegs in it, 50 to 75 folding chairs, and permits that allow serving beer in Copley Square.

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Some of the best ones I was in were just picnic tables, some wood chips to soak up spills, and a couple of keg booths for service. They were usually located inside of a city block between all of the buildings that bordered the streets. You paid something like $5 as a deposit for your stein and then paid per glass until you were done. Then you got your deposit back for returning the stein.

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This is what a Detroit neighborhood is doing to bring community life and activity to some underused/neglected spaces during the summer: http://metrotimes.com/culture/tashmoo-biergarten-1...

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The ACA was extremely supportive of Deep Ellum and their expansion.

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That's not a real bar.

But seriously, late hours, alcohol, and the ACA don't mix.

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I sit at the bar and order drinks with tequila and mezcal. They have dozens of varieties. Does that not count?

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No, I haven't been into the Lone Star half yet. I go into Deep Ellum semi-regularly. Did Lone Star even fall under a new license or just an expansion of Deep Ellum's? DE already served liquor so if the ACA just had to agree to be happy with DE taking over more space (and basically wasn't being asked about licensing alcohol anyways) then it's not the same as I'm discussing. Also, that space was already a Mexican/taco place before being taken over by DE and that bubble tea place in the other half of the space. So, again, it's not like the ACA was being asked any sort of radical question about licensing or even cuisine change really. (NB - I found the old ACA meeting reminder that said DE was petitioning for "more seating capacity"...not exactly the same as asking to open a Beer Garden in Allston)

But try to open a mid-scale handmade pizza place that serves beer in Barry's Corner...or stay open past midnight serving roast beef, burgers, or halal kabobs. That was my point...and it was largely in jest as part of a joke at the end of my post.

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I think it is the same license, but I could be wrong. The door in between the units says "Staff Only." When the owner showed up at the ACA he handed out sample menus. People seemed quite enthusiastic. I recall someone did ask about noise outside, but since they weren't expanding outdoor seating, nobody else cared. Common Ground came last month to expand their live show license to 7 days, they received unanimous support.

I know the point you are trying to make, and there is a contingent of people at the ACA who believe it is still 1955. Luckily, the licensing board mostly ignores them.

I think the Domino's request is up before the board this week. Sure, the ACA voted against them 14-8, but on the other hand, they also voted to support Pizza Days expansion to 3am. Why one and not the other? Politics, I think. Some people showed up to throw a hissy fit about late night delivery last week, and the police commissioner was also there to give a talk, which attracted an additional crowd.

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... my wife and I visited (once upon a time) served food -- and pretty much everyone we saw there was eating along with drinking. Granted they had small menus of snack-ish items -- sausages, whole heads of cauliflower cover with cheese and bacon, etc.

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I mean, I don't know that the beer is anything special ( I'm not really a beer person) but the setting at the beer garden at Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Sq seems pretty ideal.

What I miss is Icehouses. They're a Texas thing- essentially package stores with beer and wine licenses which consist of a shack covering a bunch of giant coolers filled with beer and ice, surrounded by picnic tables, Often they have a horseshoe pit or a basketball hoop. Much more of a real pub atmosphere with little kids and dogs running around. Of course the weather is a bit warmer there :)

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You'd have to adjust those prices up by about 40%, unfortunately.

But you get a well curated list like that at Meadhall in Cambridge, and a less curated, shotgun style list at Sunset. Not disparaging Sunset, of course. I've wandered through their beer menu on multiple occasions. They tend toward the hop heavy, but that's not so bad.

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If we stray outside of Allston, you can find a pretty good list of all things beer at Publick House in Washington Square in Brookline with an emphasis on some great Belgians but lots of other interesting brews too.

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Seems like every former mill town hosts a brewery these days, and the offerings would be fresh! That's one of the nicest features of Apex, IMHO - much of what they offer comes from within a few hundred miles and is super fresh. The rest is always good stuff, but I can typically find it in Boston. I didn't bother trying the Unibroue offerings last time I was there for that reason, but Unibroue has several beers that would be great for a Boston taproom. There is a lot coming out of Vermont, NY, NH, PA, Massachusetts, and Maine to keep most of the taps flowing with local offerings of renown.

Kind of ironic that this place is such close staggering distance from my (late parents') home in PDX that I rarely get to take advangage of the bike parking there.

As for location, I'd be willing to bet it could survive somewhere on Hampshire St., Cambridge or Beacon St. Somerville. The neighborhood around Apex has that sort of young adult just out of college vibe now.

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I love the patio at Cambridge Brewing Company in the summer.

There is nothing better than getting a tower of whatever magical beer they're brewing and sitting outside in the One Kendall Square Complex

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filling the place to capacity with bc kids weds thru sunday nights is the problem. this place was always a serve em as fast as they can drink em type of bar. not as much money to be made by a bunch of dorks swirling their ales to check the color, fruitiness and thickness of the foam. just keep pouring the bud lights and put on some music. cha ching!

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