Brick House Pub: A Nirvana for Hungry Beer Geeks
For the past few years, Leland Kent (right) and John Flynn (left) worked as bartenders at the no-frills Brick House Pub in the Great Barrington village of Housatonic. “We always talked about how we would make it better if we were in charge, how we’d serve really good food,” says Kent. So when the Brick House suddenly shuttered its doors last Christmas, the two guys decided it was their opportunity to test out their theories: They recruited Mark Caiola (center) to be their third partner to launch Brick House 2.0. They knew it had to remain a neighborhood saloon with live music on weekends where you could watch a game on a Sunday afternoon. But they also wanted it to have a curated selection of beers and bar food made from local and natural ingredients. “One of our goals is to have the best burger in the Berkshires,” says Kent.
He can check that one off his punch list. The Five Alarm Burger ($13), for instance, with jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese, pickled jalapenos and Sriracha mayo that we ordered last Friday night (when the place was packed to the rafters) was extraordinarily delicious. All the thick, charred burgers (which come with a pile of addictive hand cut fries) are made from NEFF (Northeast Family Farms) beef and they are served on a sesame roll that’s sturdy enough to not fall apart but not too big to fit in your mouth. The rolls comes from Berkshire Mountain Bakery down the street, as does the dough for the sensational thin-crusted pizza. “Baba Louie’s finally has some competition!” a friend said after dining there the other day. Indeed, the 18-inch “All American” pizza ($17)—sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms with mozzarealla and tomato sauce—is perfectly sized for two, and if you pair it with a shared chopped salad ($8) you’ve got one of the best dining bargains in the Berkshires.
Why is the food so good? “We did a lot of research,” says Kent. “Since January, I’ve been going on eating expeditions every Monday with Bjorn Somlo who owns Nudel. We would discuss what we liked and didn’t like about a bar and its food.” They hired a chef, Justin Lowery, who had cooked in New York and understood that the owners wanted to support the local food movement while making sure the menu was accessible to locals. “We made our mission clear: good simple food—nothing out of a box.” The menu features artisanal renditions of classics like House Nachos ($10), House-Made Loaded Potato Skins ($10) and a dozen wings ($11) bathed in a choice of sauces: classic hot, chipotle barbecue, garlic parmesan or Asian sweet chili.
And food is not even the main point of the Brick House. “We are beer geeks,” says Kent. “We have a passion for beer, and we have a passion for community. We wanted this to be the type of place where you can talk across the bar.” Kent, who has worked as a carpenter for many years, recycled materials from the Brick House’s previous incarnation to build a U-shaped bar that is a convivial hub where cross talk is possible. To keep the joint jumping, there will be live music on Friday and Saturday nights, and there are big screen TVs to watch the Red Sox. “Our main mission is being a beer bar,” says Flynn. “As long as we have customers drinking, we’ll keep the bar open every night until Great Barrington’s last call at 1 a.m.”
Brick House Pub
425 Park Street, Housatonic, MA; 413.274.0020
Bar open daily 4 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Food served Sunday - Thursday 5 - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10 p.m.