Poor planing strikes again! I first headed to Art’s Craft Beer Palace on Monday only to discover they were out of business (there wasn’t even any sign on the building anymore). I was already trying to beat the rain to be able to grab a drone picture but by this time it was too late, the rain had come. Thankfully I already had a drone shot of my backup location, taken during the soft opening a while back. I trekked up Foothills to the Blue Oaks intersection where the Moksa Barrel House is located (just across the street from McDonalds and behind the gas station).
Moksa Barrel House is a collaboration between Moksa Brewing (Rocklin) and Hawks Restaurant (Granite Bay). Although Hawks is considered a fairly upscale restaurant (I’ve not been, personally) they are bringing that higher-end kitchen experience here to serve up something more along the lines of your typical bar food – burgers, chicken sandwiches and ice cream. In addition they offer breakfast in the form of pastries and a breakfast croissant (served for the first hour of the day 10-11, which seems like a really short window to me). As far as beverages go obviously you have Moksa’s excellent beers to choose from but they also have wine available and many coffee choices, with beans provided by Mostra Coffee in San Diego.
The naming of this place is slightly confusing for me, though it’s not at bad as some places (I’m looking at you Kelli’s Cookies) The sign out front simply says “Barrel House” with “Moksa & Hawks” in smaller print below. If you go the website or any of their social media though, it’s called the “Moksa Barrel House” with little mention of Hawks. I propose they meet in the middle and call it the Hawksa Barrel House. Thanks, I’m here all week!
Anyway, when I first pulled up to the Barrel House, right around 4:15PM, I doubted they were actually open. There were just two cars in the parking lot and the windows have been tinted strongly enough that you can’t really see inside from the front. The tinting is a very welcome change from the soft open, where the sun was blazing in and very annoying. In fact they were open, as they are 7 days a week. When I popped inside it seemed like I might have been the only customer, or maybe the 2nd. The only table seated was partly or wholly comprised of Barrel House staff.
The space is big and very open, with high ceilings and big windows on two of the four walls. There’s a nice mix of low and high-top tables to choose from. The place can get pretty loud when it’s busy, as I experienced on my first visit. Some noise-dampening panels in the ceiling could help and would totally blend in to the unfinished look. Outside has a decent-sized patio for when the weather is nice. One wall is lined with barrels, each holding beer to be released in the future, labeled with some info about the barrel, when it was filled and with what kind of beer.
The menu has expanded quite a bit since my first couple visits for the soft and official openings back in August/September. One item I enjoyed quite a bit was the stout milkshake, which is vanilla and/or chocolate ice cream blended with one of Moksa’s delicious pastry stouts. At that time the stout was Pastry Mode (stout with vanilla beans, coconut and hazelnut coffee). At $14 for about a pint it’s a very pricey milkshake, but man it was good. I did not intend to get one tonight but I noticed that the stout featured for the shake had been changed to a recent release, Indulgence (German chocolate cake inspired stout with Mexican vanilla beans, coconut and cacao nibs), so of course I had to try it again. This time I went with all chocolate ice cream. What a chocolate bomb! I recall the Pastry Mode shake having a more obvious alcohol flavor to it. Both beers have the same ABV but in this one it was totally masked by the chocolate. I wonder if vanilla might have been a better choice here to let the chocolate from the beer stand alone. Either way, I enjoyed every last sip of this.
Although I had a bacon cheeseburger previously, and have been wanting to try their chicken sandwiches, I was drawn to the newest burger in the lineup, the Double Juicy (two quarter-pound patties, American cheese, caramelized onions and garlic aioli on a toasted potato bun)[$14]. This thing was messy. Right away I realized I had to put a little more effort than usual in how I was holding it because both patties, slick with melted cheese, slippery onions and a nice dollop of aiolli, wanted to slide right out of the bun. I lost a small amount of onions back into the tray it was served in with the first bite. I would say this was about the size of an In’n’Out double double. The beef patties were cooked nicely, with just a hint of pink left inside. Flavor-wise it’s very rich. Each of the 4 primary ingredients were able to shine through well. As good as this burger is, I might add some bacon or lettuce, something with a little crunch or texture really. That’s the only thing about this that I would change because it’s a very soft, uniform consistency from start to finish.
To finish off my order I wanted to grab a side. I hemmed and hawed looking through the options (fries, onion rings, chicken tenders, loaded chicken fries or fried Brussels sprouts) and ended up settling on the sprouts (topped with barrel-aged balsamic, Parmesan & basil)[$12]. Being the fried type, these were on the drier side and had a load of crispy, flaky leaves that had come off their sprout, which were a nice little treat to have in-between bites of the burger. These were good, but I think I’m burning out on Brussels sprouts in general. Be it fried, roasted or grilled, they are always sort of topped off with the same stuff no matter where you get them. The main difference seems to be how much olive oil there is on them once they hit the plate.
Food/beer/service-wise I think they are doing great here. Granted, I’ve been a long time Moksa customer and someone usually recognizes me so I’ve never really had a bad customer service experience with them. The food was prepped very quickly both times I have ordered it, the beer is obviously solid. The one thing I keep coming back to when I think of my few experiences here is that my wallet cries a bit when I get a full meal. Today’s total was $40 before tax/tip. That’s kinda rough for a burger, side and shake, in my opinion. Going forward I suspect I will continue going to the brewery location and only really visit the Barrel House for exclusive beer releases. I’ll probably come check out the shake now and then to see how it changes with the featured stout. At the very least, it’s nice to have another location to be able to order Moksa’s beers, especially on this side of town. One of these days I’ll have to check out Hawks proper for dinner.