Barley and Hops Pub | Occidental

Oktoberfest 2009 at Barley and Hops

“Can I get you a beer?” Six words that strike terror in my heart.

Barley and Hops owner Noah Bolmer stands behind his small Occidental bar with a pilsner glass and a hand poised at the tap. I start to sweat. I’m a beer-ophobe ruined by too many keg stands and quarter beer nights. A worried look gives me away. Along with the gagging sounds.

“I haven’t met a person yet that I couldn’t find a beer for,” he says, sliding caustic-looking glass of deep-brown beer my way.
Converting Wine Country beer haters like me is nothing new for Bolmer and his wife Mirjam. The couple recently gave up 9 to 5 drudgery to serve up craft brews and pub grub in a bar that’s ten minutes from nowhere.

It’s of the few watering holes within a 20-mile radius between Sebastopol and Bodega Bay, making it about 85 percent locals on any given night – friends and neighbors catching up over a beer and wings at a quintessentially neighborhood bar. What makes it destination-worthy, however, is…well…pretty much everything.

Bolmer’s got an extensive menu of tasty brews – everything from Moonlight Brewery’s Death and Taxes to a British double chocolate stout, Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye Ale, Maui Coconut Porter, Moyland’s Irish Red and a selection of “vault” bottles from Belgium, DogFish Head in Delaware and elsewhere (the most expensive is $15.75 and most are under $10).

Paired with the beers is a menu of solid pub classics: Fish and chips, burgers, onion rings, hand-cut fries and their classic Cottage Pie with ground beef, porter and mashed potatoes. Noah insisted on the food being as good as the beer. “If it isn’t homemade, you’re at the wrong place,” he says.
Chimay Pretzel Chicken ($12), a chicken breast rolled in pretzels and topped with a creamy beer sauce deliver on the promise. Fish and Chips ($9.50) are two massive chunks of battered red snapper with plenty of crunch. The menu changes up frequently, however, and a winter dish of Sonoma Sausage bathed in butter, brandy and mustard cream sauce ($6) with sauerkraut is as comforting as a warm hug on a cold night. (See the menu)

Don’t miss the Guinness Mousse ($6) made with porter and dark chocolate, capped with a creamy head of white chocolate ganache and Mirjam’s freshly baked pretzels with stone ground mustard. Noah’s sure to find a beer to pair up nicely with whatever you’re craving.

Barley and Hops, 3688 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, 707.874.9037.

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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23 Comments

  1. Considering Santa Rosa is not the “nowhere” of the county, but an urban metropolis compared to the sleepy little town of Occidental, I believe you’re mistaken.

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  2. I am sorry for you experience, but on a Friday night, a pub is a noisy crowded place (the economy willing…). I absolutely stand 100% behind our food, and your comments are absolutely singular among every customer I’ve spoken to, or has reviewed us. If something was wrong, I’d hope you’d let me know so I can fix it during your time there – the owner is always behind the bar available to talk to customers, not many restaurants can make that claim. Having a selection of rare beers means that, on occasion, we’ll be out of stock. This is because small breweries ship sporadically. In order to have a printed beer list, it’s likely that a good 4 or 5 are out of stock at any given time. We are beholden to the distribution chain. I apologize for the wait, busy Fridays with music mean a large amount of customers. I’m very proud of my employees, all of which have extraordinary personalities, and are valuable members of our team. In this economy, in the dead of winter, writing scathing reviews of small businesses which everyone else seems to like, may mean that the problem isn’t on our end. I accept constructive criticism graciously, but I humbly reject your commentary about my servers, and the quality of our food, which is better than superb, and a fantastic value. Coupled with the overwhelming majority of positive reviews, and locals who dine with us two or more times a week, I feel vindicated, but uneasy about your experience. I encourage you to give us another shot, and PLEASE come to me personally if there is an issue, because I will do my best to make it right.

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  3. Extremely disappointing experience, especially after reading all the rave reviews written here. Three of us ate here on Friday night, and it was not at all what we had hoped. The service was absolutely horrible – it was mentioned at the end of the evening that it was our servers second night…but with all the unemployment out there, couldn’t they have hired someone who was capable and had a personality? A good personality goes a long way in making inadequate service bearable, in my honest opinion. Extensive beer list – but two out of the three beers we ordered we unavailable. Bad coincedence? The food was just okay…I had the pretzel chicken, which was the best of everything we ordered. The fish and chips were okay, but nothing special, as was the hamburger my husband ordered. We ended up waiting and waiting (and waiting) to get our final tab picked up…and finally just pulled out the cash so we could just go. Couldn’t wait to get out of there…noisy, people standing over our table (waiting for a table) watching us eat, terrible service…just not good. Won’t be going back anytime soon, which is a shame…I love good beer, and we live only 10 minutes away!

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  4. Never did get back to this thread after we stayed in Occidental a few weeks ago, specifically to go here. Anyway, this place is amazing. Awesome beer selection, great food and Noah really knows his stuff. We got a room at the Inn at Occidental, which is right across the street(well, I guess everything is “right across the street” in Occidental), which was great both because the stay was very comfortable and also because I was stumbling a bit after drinking all those wonderful beers. Would have been a long and expensive cab ride back to SR. ;)

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  5. Barley and Hops is such a great place it makes me actually look forward to visiting the girlfriend’s mother’s house up in Occidental. If that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what is…
    We stopped by for a late night beer one night about a month ago and were very impressed. Noah & Mirjam and the rest of their crew were really cool and we had a great time talking and trying different beers. The Rat Bastard Pale Ale is amazing. Had dinner there the next night in which everything was great and of very high quality yet really reasonable. I still talk about the onion rings!
    It’s great to see people have a real passion and joy about what they do and am looking forward to being back soon. Best of luck w/ everything!

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  6. Wow, you guys sound pretty impressed by this place. Geez! Ok, so I’ll be checking it out this weekend…but I hope there’s some Guinness mousse left!
    Oh, and Heather- heck of a ABV on that Brown Sugga- over 9%???? Yowza!

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  7. The best brews in the west county. The best food in Occidental. The best prices in Occidental.The best service and most friendly place in Occidental. I Love It!!!!

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  8. This place rocks! The food and beer are fantastic. Noah and his wife do it right. The place fills a real void in town. It’s a great place if you are not in the mood for a multi-cousre Italian dinner and just want a great beer and some amazing food to go along with it.

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  9. Excellent food! Excellent brews! Excellent atmosphere! Excellent people! Can’t wait to see them again!

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  10. Wow!! Love this place hands down the best food ever had, and reasonably priced. Great beer pretty much whatever you want. My husband and I would live there if we could! Had a great time hanging out with Noah and locals. Can’t wait to go back to try something els on the menu! Say hi to the kitty for me, I think his name is Stout? Best wishes.

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  11. Thanks… I think? She’s actually less than two months younger than me. I think her braces are throwing you off… although in college, she got carded… to see a rated R movie. You only need to be 17 to see a rated R movie…

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  12. Seriously, is that his wife or his daughter?

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  13. Spent a couple of hours there tonight – first time visit. Warm welcome, pleasant atmosphere, and excellent vittles. I’ll be making the trek to the west county more often because of this place!

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  14. You said that it is “ten minutes from nowhere.”
    Actually, I think it takes a little longer than that to drive there from Santa Rosa

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  15. The people, the food, the beer, even a glass of local wine if you are so inclined – can’t get enough of Barley and Hops Tavern! Read the blog from the the beginning and you will be even more madly in love with this place!

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  16. Ms. Biteclub,
    A little 411 to add, It takes a lot of good beer to make good wine, and a lot great [that other Sonoma crop] to make great beer.

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  17. these guys really filled a void in the area for good and not overpriced food. its rare to find a place that a budget-conscious local and a rich weekender can both be comfortable in. the ambiance is awesome. noah is a perfect blend of easygoing friendliness but non-intrusiveness. makes a solo person feel comfortable sitting at the bar.

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  18. I keep meaning to make it out there. The beer(Delirium Tremens…Dogfish Head? Heck yeah!) and food menu sounds great. I’ll definitely hit it up this weekend.

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  19. They have the BEST fish and chips! The batter is unlike any I’ve ever had.

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  20. I’ve had the chimay chicken, tri-tip, fish and chips, the sausage and kraut plate, the burger, and the home made blue berry pie. All were excellent, and the sausage and kraut with home made pretzel stand out as the best I’ve had, anywhere.
    Noah is super friendly and has a nice selection of craft brews on tap and in bottle.
    Barley and Hops is a great addition to the neighborhood.

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  21. I read their entire blog up until opening night. Haven’t been there yet, but definitely looking forward to it.

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  22. Their onion rings are the best I have had.
    All the food I have tried is primo, and the service is primo. Where else does the owner chill with you while you eat and drink.
    Make sure to sit at the bar if there is room, that is the best place to sit.
    I have only been here twice but both times had an extremely good time.

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