A guy, a dog, and a goat walk into a bar…it might sound like the beginning of a joke, but it’s just an average day at The Barrel. On any given night, you can find the Folly Road beer garden filled with folks enjoying a cold one on the lawn—bordered by marsh on two sides and fencing on the rest—while their pups run freely from shuffleboard court to giant fire kettle to oyster shed. We caught up with owner Chad Reynolds to find out how he transformed an old surf shop into a beer-lover’s unofficial dog park.
CM: What inspired you to open The Barrel?
CR: I was working as a contractor in my family’s business building schools, and it got to a point where I was going to have to move back to the home office in Aiken. I wasn’t interested in leaving Charleston, so I sold my portion of the company in 2012 to my brother and cousins. I have a passion for craft beer and realized James Island needed a place to enjoy a beer and fill a growler.
CM: Why’d you make it dog-friendly?
CR: The initial inspiration came from a little bar in Austin, Texas, that had a dog run out back. I built a run like it, but come opening day, not one person put their dog in it. The whole yard is enclosed anyway, so I guess they figured it was one giant dog run!
CM: What’s the story behind the goat?
CR: I needed some porch furniture, so I typed in “outdoor furniture” on Craigslist. A goat and a 1985 baby-blue Cadillac limousine popped up. I ended up with both...but no outdoor furniture! The goat’s name is Pyg (short for “Pretty Young Goat”), and he even has his own hashtag: #pygthebarrelgoat.
CM: How do you select beers to stock?
CR: We have 33 taps, and I keep a good, rotating mix of all the styles, with about a third of them being local. I tend to stock heavy on my personal favorites—sours and IPAs.
CM: How do you spend your free time?
CR: I live on the water, so I love to go out on the boat or paddleboard. I also hunt—I enjoy duck hunting the most. And I’m a pilot, which is one of the greatest things I’ve done in my life. During my construction days, I got my license so I wouldn’t have to pay someone else to take aerial photos of our projects. (I also got sick of driving to Clemson for football games.) I’m a guy’s guy—I like to drink beer, fly planes, and shoot guns…but not all at the same time.
CM: Best thing about working the bar?
CR: Watching people’s faces when they walk in. You can tell they don’t expect the barrel-shaped front door to be curved on both sides. Then they look around like ‘What is this place?’ And I say, “Kind of makes you want to drink a delicious beer, doesn’t it?”
Born: Aiken, South Carolina
Lives: Oak Island (near Folly Beach) with Ellie, an English setter; Pearson, a yellow Lab; and Pyg, a Nigerian dwarf goat
Favorite beer: “Cantillon Gueuze, although I’ve only had it once. It’s hard stuff to get a hold of!”