West Sacramento’s burgeoning beer garden

West Sacramento’s burgeoning beer garden

Photo Credits: ARIANA GREEN / AGGIE

A millennial’s paradise

To the north of Interstate 80 in no-man’s land between the American River and an outcropping of newly developed apartment complexes, a tasteful brown arching structure known as The Barn sprouts from the soil of West Sacramento’s vast scenic landscape. Open for business as of Oct. 24 of last year, The Barn beer garden has increasingly become a hit in the greater Sacramento area, offering a variety of food, beer and entertainment all within a laid-back open enclosure. 

The Barn joins the Barrel House in San Leandro and the Dealership in Oakland as the San Leandro-based brewery Drake’s third specialized venue. Since its opening, Drake’s holds high expectations for the space, designating it on its website as “a landmark community gathering spot.”

!Melk, an award-winning urban design and landscape architecture practice hailing from New York, New York, was commissioned to design the area. !Melk is headed by founding principal Jerry Van Eyck, a well-known figure in landscape architecture who taught, lectured and critiqued at multiple academic institutions including Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and The Yale School of Architecture. !Melk’s website states they “always strive to offer our clients something fresh and unexpected. [They] like to push boundaries and seek out creative solutions.” The Barn directly speaks to this mantra.

Juxtaposed against the golden Tower Bridge, Sacramento’s garishly blinding beacon, The Barn stands out with its forward design, beckoning the occasional passerby on I-80 into taking a quick detour to investigate.

Kaylie Snyder, a Sacramento resident and employee at The Barn, commented on its elegant design. 

“I love the structure especially right underneath it, it has a very grand feeling,” Snyder said. 

Its wooden, bending double cantilever design is modern and eye-catching. It also feels unpretentious, allowing it to settle into Sacramento’s more traditional setting.

Furthermore, its attention to detail and modernity are a fresh new look, compared to a Sacramento skyline that resembles something a creatively-inept 10-year-old with a batch of stray Legos might construct. One of The Barn’s key structural elements is an expansive canopy that provides shade on the Central Valley’s hot summer days.

Snyder, remarking on the building’s versatile qualities, said “the structure wears many masks.”

The building’s canopy speaks to this flexibility, as it can be used for shading and as an entertainment venue, welcoming many musical and party festivities.

Snyder also commented on the variety of musical artists that frequent the setting.

“We have DJs [and] live music,” Snyder said. “Last weekend, we had the band Haze and we have another jazz band next weekend. Also, we have had this really beautiful folk band.” 

For obliging beer aficionados and foodies, The Barn offers over 25 beers on tap, rustic pizza and a Yolo County food truck filled with tri-tip and pork sandwiches.

The Barn can also accommodate up to 400 people, with plenty of quirky lawn chairs and tables scattered throughout the 178-acre mixed-use area. It is home to a vibrant crowd, with ages ranging from mid-20s to late 50s. And even though The Barn may be alcohol-centric, it’s still family friendly. It’s not uncommon to see tots tossing bean bags in an intense game of cornhole and an assortment of different breeds of dogs strewn about lapping up some summer sun.

Most patrons agree that The Barn has a “chill” atmosphere. It provides a more laid-back entertainment option to the Sacramento bar and concert scene, giving Sacramento residents a place to kick-back, relax and sip a beer without any hassle or pressure.

Emma Brown, an undergraduate at UC Berkeley who was at The Barn grabbing a beer with friends, commented on the intimacy of the setting.

“It’s very aesthetically pleasing and it’s spread out, but I can still hear everyone, which is kind of cool,” Brown said.

Sacramento resident Jesse Torres noted the easy commute to The Barn, which simplifies plans and adds a nice bike ride to his beer-savoring adventure.

“There is a bike path, so it’s super accessible for people using Jump Bikes and the Jump scooters, so it’s a pretty nice place to take your bike,” Torres said.

The stress-free commute along the tranquil riverbank is an added convenience for folks who end up enjoying the beer garden just a little too much. Not wanting to drive their cars with a couple beers in tow, they can choose to bike and then opt for an Uber or Lyft after their visit.

         The Barn is a certified design and entertainment hit, racking up six major design awards in addition to copious happy customers. With beer, food, music, dogs and great company, what else could you ask for? 

Written By: Andrew Williams — arts@theaggie.org