The Back Abbey
Taps: 27 / Bottles: 97
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 27 | Reviews: 25 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by MiScusi:
4.38/5 rDev +7.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
Atmosphere: The location is tremendous. In the new "packing house district" of downtown Claremont. It's a somewhat trendy part of downtown, with brand new restaurants, wine bars, and live music at many of the places. The Back Alley is hidden across from the packing house and about 30 yards up a small street. The clientele here is an interesting bunch, as Claremont always is. You got the college students from the highly academically regarded Claremont Colleges (these students tend to be more of the liberal, hippy style ala Berkeley), and you got a trendy downtown Claremont crowd. Occasional plastic, silicone, whatever can be seen here. The inside is tiny, about half the size of Father's Office Santa Monica and it can get really cramped. It creates a cool atmosphere overall though. There is a long outside patio that actually fits a bunch of people. They only have about 5 tables out there though (probably about 15 seats or so total). If there's nowhere to sit inside, the outside is a pretty good option to go stand for a while, cause you aren't going to stand around inside as cramped as it is.
Quality: Top notch for the most part. The beer is served in its own authentic logo glass, just like in Belgium. It's poured correctly too- usually to the line indicated on the glass. The only problem I have is they really got crappy seats for the bar. It must be intentional, for some reason, but the seats are like these cheap plastic things that look like chairs from the 70's. The seats outside are a little bit better and much more comfortable.
Service: It seems like usually there is 1 guy pouring, sometimes 2. So it can take a few minutes to order a beer, but that's not really a huge problem for me cause I'm not really ever in a rush. The waitress I had last time I was there was awesome.
Selection: Well, it's a good range of Belgians. They have Quads (St. Bernardus ABT 12 is always on), a few tripels, a few saisons, a few belgian darks, pale ales, and some lagers. There are about 4 non-Belgian drafts- Spaten Pils, Spaten premium lager (I think), Fuller's London Pride, Celebrator Dopplebock (I think). So far I've had a Trois Pistols, Saison Dupont, Moinette Brune, Moinette Blond, and ABT 12. Not bad, but I'd love to see at least some local American Belgian Style beers like those from the Lost Abbey (Red Barn or Avant Garde would be awesome here!) or The Bruery.
Food: I have not tried it but plan to do so very soon. They have frites, mussels, different types of burgers which are said to be better than Father's Office, cheese plates, and brats, among other things.
Value: The beers range in the $6-9 mark. Most are 7 or 8. I think the smaller alcohol beers like the Pilsners and lagers might be 5, maybe $6 at the most. You get a good pour on those too because they have larger logo glasses it seems like. The food is somewhat expensive, but I would say it's cheaper overall than Father's office, where some entrees can be around $20. The burgers at Back Abbey are about $12-13, and other things were around $8-15. Put it all together though and it's not cheap, but it's also a good experience.
07-05-2008 04:50:32 | More by MiScusi
More User Reviews:
3.95/5 rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$$
I recently stopped in at the Back Abbey since I was in the area on business. It's a cool gastropub with lots of European beer memorabilia adorning the walls. It reminds me a lot of the Congregation Ale House locations. They have about 15 beers on tap with a fairly extensive bottle list as well. There is a beer brewed specially for this place by Bossche called Voortrust, which is pretty neat. The quality of the beer on tap was good with the beer served at a good temperature and in proper glassware. They only offer full pours for their beer, and will only give you a single sample per visit since apparently people were taking advantage of the samples in the past. Prices were a bit high with most beers on tap starting at $7 and going up from there. Service was good with the bartender answering all my questions in a friendly manner. I got a pretzel to munch on and it was pretty tasty. Overall, this is a cool spot and I wouldn't hesitate to come back in here again if I was in the area.
06-30-2013 06:40:42 | More by UCLABrewN84
4.33/5 rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3 | $$
This is a little jewel for those who fully understand all about beer. If you are looking for Miller Light or a Bud you have no right being in this place and much of what they serve will be way above your head.
Sadly, there's no Cask, but what tapped beers they have is amazing. Their menu shows 27 tapped beers, and their bottled beers are from Belgium, France, Holland, Canada, and the UK.
Their draft beers range from 4.5% to 12% ABV. The variety is quite amazing. Most of the beers are served in signature glassware from the original breweries. Their novelty glass for me is when you order a pint of Kwak (8.1% -$8). It comes in a glass that looks like a miniature yard ale glass that holds a pint. There's no way it can stand on its end or it would fall over so it comes with a special wooden holder to "hang" the glass by the front end of the tapered neck.
It's a small rustic pub but is obviously a favorite in the area as the times I've been there it's always been difficult to find a seat. They have a central long wooden bar top in the middle of the floor for patrons to either side of it on hard wooden stools.
There's an outside patio so that helps but again it's always been full when I've been there.
Food is okay, but nothing to right home to Momma about.
Prices for draft beer range from $5 to 9$ so beer isn't cheep here, but I guess you pay for the quality.
Bottled beers range from $6 to $23, but there are some seasonal bottled beers as high as $58 for their Scaldis Prestige De Nuits (13% ABV - 750ml)
03-06-2012 18:00:05 | More by JohnnyAngel
3.85/5 rDev -5.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$$
My homebrew club and I came here for the grand opening. John, the owner, was a chimney sweep for one of my buddies before he opened this place.
The atmosphere is good, if not a little tight. I wish they would expand to give some more room to the patrons. And to allow more seats so they wouldn't fill up so fast. This place is busy every night of the week! (except when they're closed, of course!)
Service is good, provided you get one of the original servers, and not the newer ones. It has gotten better in the last year. It's nice when a server remembers your name and face.
The food here is excellent - a bit pricey, but unlike other places I've been to around here, you actually get what you pay for.
BEER: The selection here is good, but also a little pricey. They get some nice belgian beers, and every once in a while some nice bottles sour beers. They used to have a nice little selection of Cantillon, but it's getting harder and harder to find any at all here on the west coast. Other beers from all over Europe are also on the menu, but Belgians are their specialty.
08-26-2011 19:50:32 | More by bmwehrly
4.3/5 rDev +5.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$
This little joint is a recreation of a Belgian Cafe. A little unassuming from the front once you walk in you notice the bar and its collection of glassware. They have and serve every beer in its perspective glassware, The seating is a scramble seating where when you get to seat yourself.
The quality available is excellent. They do a good job with food and beer.
The selection ranges from Chimay White, Buffalo Stout, to Delirum Tremens. They have a seasonal bottle list and sometimes get some Cantillon. The food is a small menu but the quality is high. However its a little pricey.
Good little restraunt for Belgian beer. The beer is about $7-10 a glass. If you want a cheaper pint go down the street Eureka!
07-15-2011 17:49:29 | More by Hershdawg
3.75/5 rDev -8.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$
I have been twice with my better half. She drinks very little and it is much easier to get her to join me at places that have interesting food options.
The food is not cheap: burgers are about $12, which includes a salad, but no fries. There are high quality ingredients, and when viewed in that light, the prices are reasonable. The burgers we had on both visits were excellent. We also ordered fries, which were very good. Today, it seems everyone has to offer gourmet burgers, and these guys do it well.
There is an extensive Belgian-centric tap selection, and a large bottle selection. Plenty to choose from. A few local craft options would be nice. I understand what they are going for, but this is Southern California. It would not kill them to humor us and throw in an IPA and a couple Belgian-inspired Californians.
The one black mark is service. The servers could be a little more attentive. If my glass is empty and I still have half a burger on my plate, it might be a good idea to ask if I want another beer. I should not have to chase you down...especially if I am sitting at the bar. It was not overly busy on either visit (late Saturday mornings, just after opening) so that is not an excuse. However, food service was prompt and correct on both visits, which is nice.
Overall, I will go again and have recommended it to several friends.
06-27-2011 02:27:28 | More by heresy22
3.9/5 rDev -4.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$$$
Visited 3 times now, each time when people are visiting from out of town. This place is about 2 1/2 miles from my house right next to downtown Claremont.
Located right near the Claremont Colleges in ritzy Claremont. Luckily this place is on the edge of all that and on a quiet street so you can always find somewhere to park. Inside you'll find some tables and a bar with some seating outside on the patio. Very nice place, if it wasn't jam packed ALL THE TIME. I guess that's good for them but it sucks for customers.
You seat yourself so no waiting for service, which is kind of sparse to begin with. I've never had to wait more than a few minutes but I've only been early in the evening (no later than 6). For the most part it's college students in there with a few locals mixed in.
The food is quite good and they use "seasonal" ingredients (what ever is available at that time). The basket of fries are awesome, until you see the bill. Prices are ridiculous. A beer and a decent sized meal will cost you $20. But as mentioned before they are always busy so obviously people are paying these prices.
The beer selection is pretty good. You can get any beer style you want so long as it's Belgian. Unfortunately they don't have a lot of lambics but they usually have one or two, even if they are St Louis. People have spotted bottles of Westvleteren but I'm not sure if they are for sale or for show.
I'll probably be back the next time someone comes from out of town. Actually, I'd love to go back if they could get some Cantillon on tap, or maybe some good Belgian-style California made beers (Russian River or Lost Abbey).
02-03-2011 19:03:28 | More by t0rin0
4.33/5 rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$$
A previous destination before Heroes (place is closed on Sundays), Back Abbey serves 28 Belgian beers on tap and Belgian food. Food is delicious, every bit of morsel devoured on my plate. Pomme frittes come with 3 dipping sauces (horseradish chive sauce, roumelade & ketchup). A bit pricey, especially for lunch but worth it. Beers tasted: Golden Carolus hopsinjoor 8% (Note: beer was served in correct glassware) : hopsinjoor 8%had a floral, citrusy scent & flavor and a slight hoppy taste; Schonramer Gold 6% was watery, slightly carbonated & bitter taste(to assure me it was beer), probably good on a hot summer's day. It was a wonderful date & thanks, dear for lunch!
02-01-2011 20:53:13 | More by fandgale
The Back Abbey in Claremont, CA
91 out of 100 based on 27 ratings.