If I have to go somewhere strange, I usually pull up the street view on Google Maps. It helps to see where I’m going so there’s no bizarre surprises.
Unless you’re going to Barley Mow’s production facility in Largo. Then you see this:
Yup, pretty much. The facility, situated in the back of a small industrial park, was previously home to a fire surpression equipment manufacturer. And with the exception of a few dismembered heads in the office and a dead hobo monument out back, it’s a pretty standard looking building.
Barley Mow’s Marketing Manager Thomas Barris (one of those fuzzy faces above) told me the name of their ‘receptionist,’ but for the life of me I can’t remember. Also, please note the infamous Quackelope as well (#duckwithantlers, anyone?)
Sure, there’s an office which is almost too big for what they really need. There are also a number of rooms set aside for the local Shriners chapter (there’s a good amount of Freemanonry in the upper people at Barley Mow). This space, however, is being looked at for a future tap room overlooking the brewing space.
Speaking of the brewing space, inside is a gorgeous and huge 30 BBL system that co-founder Jay Dingman had rolling with a fresh batch. Soon, that beer would be pumped into their giant fermentation tanks. An interesting juxtaposition to all of that is their relatively tiny, labor intensive canning line. Generally, there’s a small army of volunteers that come in and help run the line for distribution statewide.
That army was on their break when I visited, but that day Barley Mow was busy canning Total Wake Up Call, a coffee stout brewed in collaboration with Total Wine and More’s Clearwater store team. Notice the red on the label; it’s the same red in Total Wine’s logo.
A quick note on Barley Mow’s iconic labels: their original artist was a friend of Tom’s who has since moved on to much bigger things. They continue to use local artists for current and future releases like this, while staying true to the striking Barley Mow visual style (much of which is dripping with Masonic imagery).
Those labels are in the process of becoming a giant mural on their central breezeway. Every year-round label and many of the seasonal labels will be represented once the mural is complete.
Barley Mow has a lot coming in the near future, including a bigger canning line that they were getting ready to install, more local and charity beer releases, and increased production & distribution. I got a little taste of that with a bottle of Sun Mountain Fiddler (Old Ale, 10% ABV), aged in whiskey barrels from their friends at local liquor store Luekens Liquors.
For an Old Ale, and a style typically with double digit ABV, this beer was remarkably soft. Chewy, absolutely, but little harshness at all.
What I also found interesting was the whiskey barrel aging. There was a hint of vanilla sweetness and light tang from the barrel aging, but it’s not brutally boozy at all. Flavorful, drinkable, and it really doesn’t show teeth as much as the warmth sneaks up on you later.
There’s a lot of good stuff that will be coming out of Barley Mow, and I’m happy to be covering it. They’re nearing statewide coverage, so you should be able to find it near you.
You’ll just have to wait to hear about the dead hobo monument, though.
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