Even though it sits on a brewery-heavy part of South Broadway, Banded Oak Brewing Company has found a way to differentiate itself from the pack on a few levels. Starting with their barrel-aged focus and moving on to their large patio and enthusiastic service they make a great impression. In my opinion they ought to be part of any food or beverage-related visit to the neighborhood, or as in my case an excuse by itself to visit the area.
BEER LINEUP: Small but deep. Most of the 6-8 beers on tap are barrel-aged and/or high gravity with lots of depth and complexity. With their style-specific focus, Banded Oak doesn’t have a broad range of styles but what they do have is rewarding.
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom is tiny, holding maybe 20 people if they want to get intimate. The patio, on the other hand, can accommodate maybe 70 and is set back from Broadway traffic so it feels chill. The overall mood was energetic and upbeat, with people popping in for a beer or two and moving on to other activities. Nearby restaurants can provide food as needed.
SERVICE: Energetic. The bartender was clearly having a great time cranking the music, flying around in a whirlwind serving multiple people simultaneously, and sweeping glasses off tables. There wasn’t a lot of time for idle chitchat so we were somewhat left to our own devices in selecting beers.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Pretty much a known quantity – South Broadway. Banded Oak is in the section populated with lots of restaurants, breweries, and other business so it’s easy to make a few stops while in the area. Street parking can be hit or miss but Banded Oak actually has a substantial parking lot that’s hidden from the street.
STANDOUT BEER: Although the Bock was my favorite, with all the traditional bocky goodness, I thought Ye Olde Ale was the most interesting, mainly because of what it wasn’t. Ye Olde Ale’s steadiness provided a pleasant counterbalance to some of the more intensely-flavored beers that Banded Oak serves and offers a nice simple malt flavor with some caramel sweetness. But be careful, though, as this simple pleasure provides no escape from the high-gravity of Banded Oak’s brews, clocking in at 9.2%.