Okay, this is already a weird one. The Half Barrel on Cumberland Avenue, aka The Strip, is the leftover detrius from Knoxville's abortive attempt at a Beer Sellar. I'm going to be perfectly honest, any new business on The Strip has it tough from my perspective. Gone are the days of The Lap, Library, Ivy's, The Roman Room, Varsity Inn, and Hawkeyes. Those places kicked serious ass for decades and what passes for bars down there these days reeks like pure gasoline.
We've had some mixed experiences at this place. Excellent beer selection, but a menu that has changed a bit. Ephemeral. Some exotic and out of the way items have given way to standard pub fare. Sure, that's okay, if you want to remain amongst the common nebulae of local bars. If you want to stand out though, make a name for yourself, you might want to go back to the beer brats and Thai chicken dishes folks.
The strength of this place is the long and spacious bar, and as I mentioned it has a great many beers on draft...at least a couple dozen at last count. Low-Down Brown, Stella Artois, Abita, along with the standard macrobrew trash, so you have some choices to make. I recommend looking at the menu when you get there to check for prices as there is quite a bit of range there. Being a college bar, they are not above specials, such as 22 oz Yeungling "Bombers" on certain weeknights, but for the most part you aren't coming away from here cheap.
Also a pro is the varied liquor selection. You can get all the various bourbons you would expect at a high end joint...single barrel Jack, Beam Black, Special Reserve Crown, Blantons to name a few. Even though yours truly is not a Scotch drinker, you can find a wide variety up top as well.
The physical allure of most bars is somewhat missing here. At the time of our last visit, the pool table was gone and the back room is now just a hallway to the pissoirs.
All in all, this is a decent enough place for a gameday or a casual night out...but not for one's primary joint. My 2 cents.