A 'Vavoom Veggie' sandwich and onion rings are among the menu items at Bricktowne Barrel House in Medford. - Photo by Anita Burke

Bricktowne Barrel House

Bricktowne Barrel House is bigger than ever.

Open for less than a year, the downtown Medford brew pub already has expanded, taking over what once was a neighboring salon at the corner of Eighth Street and Central Avenue.

After being closed for more than a month to accomplish this expansion, the Barrel House reopened just in time to be one of the few spots in Medford showing the Civil War game last weekend. My husband and I headed in to check it out.

The newly opened space — with gleaming corrugated-metal wainscoting and trompe l'oeil painting of bricks — offers more seating, a bigger kitchen, a larger brewing system and an expanded, but still simple, menu.

Regulars will find a familiar array of grilled sandwiches, salads and a daily soup, but those options are now supplemented by additional appetizers, sausages, a pulled pork entree and desserts.

Beer and sausage are a natural pairing, so we decided to try the $8.50 sausage and cheese platter. It featured three sausages — a mild German sausage, a slightly spicy kielbasa and an even spicier Cajun sausage — each simmered in a different beer, along with deli-sliced Swiss, cheddar and pepper jack cheese and a little bowl of beer-cheese sauce. The sausages were all juicy and flavorful, but the casings were a tad tough.

As a foil to all that meat and cheese, we split a "Vavoom veggie" panini filled with tomato, mild red onion, sliced mushrooms, avocado and Swiss cheese. It is nice to see vegetarian options, and this one can go completely vegan with hummus instead of cheese.

Sandwiches, all priced between $8 and $10, now come on a choice of a hoagie roll, sourdough, whole wheat, rye, Hawaiian or as a wrap. They are accompanied by a choice of soup, salad, chips, potato wedges or onion rings.

We tried the onion rings, which are "air fried" for a crispy coating that claims to be healthful, but the thick-cut onions weren't quite done enough for my taste.

The beer is still the best part, with 11 varieties on tap at my last visit. While head brewer Craig McPheeters specializes in British-style ales, his collaborations with local home brewers have introduced some bolder, American-style beers that have become part of the lineup. Bricktowne's signature English IPA Rogue Trail India Ale is now joined by HopJaw IPA, bright with Northwest hops, and an even stronger and hoppier imperial IPA known as Gunslinger.

Also look for a craft-brewed light beer — a light cream ale — and a toasty "Workin' Gal" brown ale named for the ladies of ill repute purported to have worked upstairs in the historic building long ago. The mellow seasonal Oktoberfest, dubbed BricktoberFest, might not last much longer, but is sure to be replaced by something good. I even heard a rumor of a perry, the traditional name for pear cider, which seems like a natural for the Rogue Valley.

Bricktowne already has proven itself a natural fit for the area. Here's to its continued success.

Bricktowne is at 44 S. Central Ave., Medford. Call 541-973-2377. It is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

— Anita Burke

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