I went to Barrelhouse 34 last Thursday night for its grand opening. I was able to get in just as the doors opened up and sneak a few shots (photographs) off before the crowd rushed in.
The space is huge. I estimate that behind The Accord and Guido's, it can host the most patrons in the Downtown Champaign area. As I hung around, more and more people came in, hit the bar, and sat down to sip their craft beer or specialty gin or whiskey drink.
The space handled the patrons well. There was music, but low enough that you could just hear the beats — background noise, if you will. I had no issues having a conversation — something I really appreciate. We weren't on top of one another, either.
The only space issue I saw was at the bar. Since there is no wait service, bellying up to the bar was the only way to grab a drink. There are no designated "wait here to get a drink" areas like in other bars. Some people squeezed by seated patrons to put in their orders. That being said, staff was friendly and speedy.
Amenities of the bar included one bathroom, two dart boards, and a rooftop patio (which was open). The bathrooms were clean and spacious. The dart boards were brand new and darts were left out for patrons to use at their will. The patio was open but no one was hanging out there.
At that time, it was pretty chilly and no music was playing. However, it was a beautiful space and is going to be great for warmer months. I am curious to know if there will be music (speakers) and, or, waitstaff on the rooftop.
The cheapest drink was a Hamm's at $3 a draft. The most expensive was a $10 gin drink. Most drinks were $5 to $8. There is no food on the menu.
The most revered aspect of the bar has by far been the smell. Numerous people have commented to me, independent of one another, about the rich wood smell. And I'll agree, it does have a nice scent of wood — like you're in a cabin.
I've been back to BH34 a few times now, and it's been consistent thus far with this experience. Check them out online and in person, too, Monday through Friday 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.