The team behind Poor House brewing have opened a second nanobrewery in North Park. Barn Brewery sits just around the corner from the 30th Street brewhouse, adding its name to the growing number of young businesses revitalizing the strip of El Cajon known as the Boulevard.
Though open since mid-April, the brewpub is still building out a small kitchen that will eventually serve hamburgers and the like, and hasn't quite got its one-barrel brewing system up and running yet. In the meantime, brewmaster and co-owner Chris Finch oversees production of both breweries' beers on the three-barrel setup at Poor House.
Finch (also a full-time firefighter) works with brewer Derek Linwood to develop recipes for both organizations. The separation of the two brands has mostly to do with business partnerships. Finch started both with longtime business partner Jennifer Alexander (the two also used to operate Firehouse Brewing Company, which closed in 2010 after eight years in business). Barn Brewing's third partner, David Baker, owns the building, along with the shopping plaza across the street, and thus has a vested interest in seeing the area flourish.
Alexander, who handles the business end of both companies, says Barn gets its name from the architecture — the wood paneled storefront stands out as exceptionally rustic for North Park. That motif is echoed inside, with a high open-beam ceiling, fireplace, and enormous moose head. Like Poor House, beer is served by a friendly young female staff, but whereas Poor House embraces more of a dive bar sensibility, Barn skews more family-friendly, with a comfortable open layout, patio seating, and wi-fi in case remote workers care to enjoy a beer in front of their laptops during the brewpub's earlier daytime hours.
The beer also distinguishes Barn from its sister brewery. "We're going to do more on the lighter side," says Alexander, "Like saisons, farmhouse Belgians…low ABVs is the market we're catering to. Over there [at Poor House] we have much more flavorful, hoppy-hoppy, high-alcohol-content beers." Which isn't to say Barn doesn't offer the occasional IPA or imperial stout, or that the taplist will be limited to Belgian styles.
A 24-handle menu will typically include 10-12 house brews, with the rest populated by a rotating variety of guest beers — ranging from European imports to domestic craft brews so, as Alexander puts it, "There's always something new and exciting here." Referring to the rapidly rising number of breweries and tasting rooms populating North Park, she adds, "We're trying to have something that we feel like isn't in every bar right around here."