MEREDITH — Most restaurants will succeed if they can turn their tables over two or three times a night – sitting a party for dinner, serving them, billing them, then cleaning and re-setting the table for the next paying customers. Bruce Walton, one of the owners of Twin Barns, said his business isn’t like that. In fact, even though they serve food, he doesn’t even consider it a restaurant at all.
Twin Barns Brewing opens for business today, July 16.
“Stay six hours if you want to hang with your friends. Come here and work, we don’t care,” Walton said.
“This is a taproom. A place you can come and relax,” said Dave Picarillo, Walton’s business partner.
Twin Barns Brewing is locating within – you guessed it – a barn located on Route 3, across the street from McDonald’s. The property, which includes seven acres, was previously home to the American Police Motorcycle Museum, and prior to that was an antique store for many years.
Picarillo said the name comes from the discovery that the circa-1850 structure is actually made of two different barns that were conjoined, leading to an atmosphere, and some renovation challenges, that won’t be found elsewhere.
“Old barns are surprising,” Picarillo said on Friday, the morning after the business’s third soft opening, which followed eight months of renovation to turn the structure into a brewery. The 10-barrel system, which makes it one of the biggest in central New Hampshire, is built on the ground floor and is helmed by Sam Clemens, who was previously the head brewer at Long Trail in Vermont.
The second floor holds the bar, kitchen and broad, picnic-style tables, which Walton said are suitable for board games and puzzles, should guests be so inclined. A third floor was removed to provide an airy atmosphere. Every post, beam and rafter was reinforced during the renovation.
The menu offers a few appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, a handful of entrees and pizza. It’s not a full-service place; instead, all orders are placed at the bar, and food will be brought to the table when it’s ready.
“It keeps costs low, and value high,” Picarillo said. “We wanted to keep it simple.”
And they also wanted to make food the supporting cast to the real star of the show: the beer.
The opening day tap list offers six beers: the easy-drinking “Sandbar Blonde Ale,” “Palmer’s Town IPA” is their version of the emergent and popular New England IPA style, the “Lake Cruiser” is a hazy double IPA with fruity notes, the “Hayloft” is an American wheat ale with fruitiness from both yeast and hops, the “Burlwood Porter” is for malt fans, and lastly there’s “McGuigan’s Breakfast Stout,” which evokes chocolate and espresso flavors. Put it in your coffee mug and none’s the wiser.
After three soft openings, it appears that the market might be challenging Clemens to go heavy. Their best-selling beer, by a clear margin, is the 7.8% ABV Lake Cruiser, their strongest beer.
Workers have been toiling all winter at Twin Barns, but they’re not done yet. Next up is a porch which will add outdoor seating for up to 30, then attention will turn to the field.
Twin Barns will host an Octoberfest party in its grassy lawn on Sept. 28. Walton said their plans and permits allow for them to develop the area into a space they can use whenever the weather is nice.
For now, the only place to try Twin Barns beer is at their taproom, which is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eventually, Walton said, the business will look to distribute its beer in cans and kegs. But they aren’t anxious to move on to the next thing. Instead, they’re happy to do what they want their guests to do: enjoy their time in the barn, without feeling like they have someplace else to be.
“It’s not a rushed place,” Picarillo said.