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The Back Abbey

Not Rated.
The Back AbbeyThe Back Abbey
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

30 Ratings
Ratings: 30
Reviews: 25
rAvg: 4
pDev: n/a
Taps: 27
Bottles: 97
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

128 Oberlin Ave
Claremont, California, 91711-4620
United States
phone: (909) 625-2642

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
Place added by: BeerRun13 on 06-29-2008

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Ratings: 30 | Reviews: 25
Reviews by Siggy125:
Photo of Siggy125
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Visited a few days ago. Cool hangout. Great Belgian selection but very little else. Food was awesome, best fries I ever had, especially with the Chive Horseradish sauce. The staff seemed to be a bit disorganized, I guess they're still trying to find there way being new and all. The servers were less than knowledgable with the beer. I would encourage them to carry some other brews to cater to the non-belgian folks. I wanted to bring some friends next time, but won't because they're not into Belgians. They seemed to understand that they are going through growing pains and were bending over backwards to accomodate. With a little work, this can be a very desirable destination. I'll be checking back.

More User Reviews:
Photo of qcghost
4.43/5  rDev +10.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Photo of oldsailor
4.08/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of Bryce_Sneed
1/5  rDev -75%

Photo of SoCaliC8
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

Photo of berlinabb
4/5  rDev 0%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.95/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

Photo of JohnnyAngel
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
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)

Photo of bmwehrly
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

Photo of Hershdawg
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
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!

Photo of heresy22
3.75/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

Photo of t0rin0
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
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).

Photo of fandgale
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
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!

Photo of tombcrypt
4.22/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This place is awesome. Everytime I go in they have a couple of different beers on tap, as well as others they have all of the time. My favorite thing about this place is that they have every glass for every beer the serve. Yes, that's right. A Kwak glass for Kwak, St. Louis Kriek glass for said beer, Straffe Hendrick glass...and on. Pretty legit. Although for their bottled selections I don't really know if that holds true because I ordered a Cantillon Gueuze and it came in some other glass. Whatever.

That said, the food is great. Mussels awesome. Best veggie burger ever. Frites with mayo sauce, fuck yeah.

The only downside is the price. The bottled beers are crazy. My Cantillon was $25, which ain't bad for a restaurant, but a 750ml of Duvel is $17! The food is pretty expensive too, but shit, they fry the frites in duck fat. Probably not cheap stuff.

Photo of womencantsail
3.28/5  rDev -18%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

This place is sort of hard to find if you don't know it's there. In the alley that's across from the 21 Choices/parking garage (and some other restaurants), it's a bit tough to find if you're not looking for it.

The restaurant itself has a nice rustic feel inside. Low lighting with a short l-shaped bar, a long table in the center with some tables around the walls. The problem is that it's very cramped inside, and not in a cute, cozy sort of way.

There is also some seating outside, but the tables were all full. My friends and I took a seat at the bar.

The place has about 20 or so taps and a fairly long bottle list. All the taps and most of the bottles are fairly easy to find Belgian beers with a few German, English, and other imports. The problem is that the prices are through the roof. I mean, $9 for a pour of Aventinus? You can buy a 500ml bottle for 3 or 4.

The food is good, but similarly overpriced. The fact that I paid $11 for a 6 oz burger and a few bites of lettuce with some dressing is rather laughable.

The staff seemed somewhat knowledgeable, but nothing "beer geek" about them. That said, you can't really fault them for that. The food came out fairly quickly, which was good, but they were not all that attentive.

Overall, this could be a cool little place, but they really need to work on their pricing. There is no reason for their beers (nor their food, to be perfectly honest) to priced the way that they are. I do not think I'll be going back.

Photo of AHebel
4.2/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A great place for a meal and a few beers. They have a selection of 95%, European, well-crafted brews. Lots of great Belgians and German ones. 24 and 50 or so, taps and bottles. I had the house burger and my friend had the vegetarian burger and we were both impressed. The fries were just fine too (the full order is MUCH larger than expected. My friend and I joked about this...) Anyways, good place (not, my god, this is my new favorite), and unique in that it's really the only beer bar/restaurant that focuses solely on good European imports. No domestics here. I'll go back again, next time I make the trek from LA to Walnut and Lone Hill Liquors. I'm interested in trying more of their food and another Belgian. Check their website for details on menus.

Photo of ArrogantHopHead
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I came here last week with some friends and I was blown away. I even lived in Claremont for a year and didn't even know this was here. I would have gone here more often if I was still living near this place.

This place has a lot of heart and beer respect to give. The wooden bar tops and shelvings, central island for patrons, beautiful selection of draught and bottled beers, and the specific glass that accompanies most of the draft beers that they poor, all contribute to a wonderful experience. The selection is really good for what they have, just wish they had a larger one.

The only negative is that I wish the menu had a little description of the beers on draught. Other than that, the place is a great place to get a belgian style or international brew. I would highly recommend this place. Next time I will have to eat there.

Photo of JTahoe
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Located on the western fringe of the expanded Claremont Village (west of Indian Hill behind the theatre). This small old building was the only structure left standing in the new development and is oozes charm, just begging to be a beer bar... and so it is. The small interior has a good vibe, but most of the seating is on the wrap around patio fitted with comfy furniture.

The focus here (as the name implies) is Belgian, with all but four of the 27 taps dedicated to Belgian imports or Belgian style beers--the others offer London Pride, Paulaner, Schneider Aventinus, and Spaten Pils. The bottle selection also leans the same way with a wide selection of Belgians, and a smattering of German, Dutch, English, French, and Canadian (Unibroue). I have never seen an American offered... which I think is a shame, but that's me. Service is a bit slow, but the are friendly, and serve the beer properly in the appropriate glassware. Still have not tried to food, but the menu looks good and of the Father's Office variety.

Photo of TheMadJack
3.9/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Tucked off a side street not far from the Claremont Village. The Abbey itself is small, and I find that I feel crowded in there even when it's nearly empty. However, the patio is remarkably well sized and furnished, and even when the place is hopping I've got enough elbow room. Smoking is allowed outside. Furnishings are nice, with padded or wicker chairs, solid tables,space heaters for colder weather (yes, us delicate Californians not only call 40 degrees "cold", but require space heaters to sit under outside) and plenty of light.

The selection is impressive. They specialize in Belgian beers, but have a few British and German selections. Almost no American beer, not even micros, and absolutely no macro-swill. Taps and bottles available, bottles sometimes have a large and a small available. Some wines round out the list, and no hard liquor. If you're not in the mood for Belgians, best avoid this place. If you are (or have no preference), or just want a comfortable place to have a cool one with some friends, definitely seek this place out.

Service is a little slow sometimes, but they seem to be more short on wait staff than anything else. The servers are friendly and fairly knowledgable, able to read a patron and make recommendations that have pleased me and my friends several times. The bartenders have had excellent pouring technique when I've been inside to watch them. Glassware is always appropriate and is usually the custom glass if there is one available.

The food is nothing special. Most of the menu is selections of cheese and fruit, or sandwiches. Mostly cold stuff, save for the occassional soup, and it is obvious that it is offered more to complement your beverage than to satiate your appetite.

The pricing is definitely high. Best to come with friends and split the bill if you're going to have more than one or two drinks. Otherwise, this place is definitely worth the time.

Photo of nomomentwasted
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I've been here three seperate times now, and I always love the beer and the food, the service is solid and they deliver with a sense of urgency for the most part, and the selection is really great.

This, however, comes at a price. The bottle list is fantastic, but at a mark-up of occasionally up to 100% over market value. Yikes. Duvel 750? 17 bucks. Bernardus 12? 22 bucks. And there are no American brews whatsoever, which is all fine and well, but the Lost Abbey would fit in perfectly here, just brilliantly, and yet no. Owner's choice 100%, just a critique.

The food is awesome. Love the fries, love the burgers (seriously delicious, although last night's wasn't up to their standards. I think with the huge rush they had (a rarity for when I've gone) may have put their backs up against the wall. Still very expensive for a burger at 13 bucks, and the crowd can be a little awkward, but not bad.

A fantastic selection and their taps are great, bottles are as well, just be prepared to pay and pay to the point of cringing sometimes. You do get great beer, and in its correct glassware, just be prepared to pay for it. I recommend it for a special occasion, you'll have a great time, just know it's going to be expensive.

Photo of bjacobsen
4.6/5  rDev +15%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

The Back Abbey is located in a teeny little building right behind a movie theater. It is hidden pretty well, and would have been even more diffiicult to find had it not been for a revitalization of an old packing house across the street that is now home to wine shops, art galleries, and a jazzy fondue joint. The architecture (especially on the exterier) is great! It truly gives off a Abbey-like feel with it's mission-style arched facade.

This place is really tight inside but has a beautiful wood finished bar with such an impressive display of belgian, german, and assorted euro. treats on tap. Perhaps the most impressive sight to behold is the appropriate glassware for their draft and bottle choices...and I'm not talking about just one Roquefort chalice or a Celebrator pint. They have the reinforcements to keep you drinking from the appropriate vessel throughout.

The food is pricey ($13 for the Back Abbey burger, but it is honestly the best burger I've had...and I will gladly pay the $13 again when I get a chance.) My wife prefers the euro cuisine....the brats, the prosciutto sandwich, etc. and she loves them all. The pommes frittes are outstanding.

Back to the beer...They really seem to highlight the Dupont Brasserie offerings (Saison Dupont, Biere de Miel, Avril, Avex le Bons Veoux, and Moinette Brun and Blonde). Not a bad brewery to focus on, if I do say so myself. They have two or three selections from one of my favorites, Unibroe, at all times. I was also pleased to see Fuller's London Pride and Celebrator on tap to give a little variety to the solid Belgian Lineup. The service is solid...most of the servers are pretty knowledgable and the bartenders (as I mentioned before) offer proper pours in the appropriate glassware. The service can get bogged down, but when your not just pumping BMC into a standard pint glass over and over, I suppose I should have a bit of patience.

Their bottle selection is remarkable...and for a bar, really not priced too badly...I've seen more expensive prices in bottle shops.

This is a must for anyone within distance of Claremont.

Photo of billshmeinke
4.63/5  rDev +15.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Great selection of mostly belgian beers. Augustijn, Avec Les Bon Voeux, Celebrator, Chimay White, Delirium Tremens, Saison Dupont, Saxo, St. Bernardus Abt. 12, Tripel Karmeliet, and Westmalle Triple are all on tap among others. Great bottle selection as well, but like I mentioned before the selection is mostly belgian beers, and you won't find any domestic beers at all. The burgers and crab cakes are amazing. Also, The Tip sandwich is quite good, but skip the mussels, they're kinda bland. I've heard good things about the steak, but never tried it. Matching glassware for all the beers served (except La Chouffe IPA comes in the Delirium Tremens glass, but other than that they've always provided matching glassware including glassware for Kwaak which you must provide a shoe as collateral). Last few times I've been there they've had Klokke Roeland instead of Val du Grand Cru on tap. Klokke Roeland is exceptionally hard to find, especially on tap, so I'd highly recommend giving it a try, but be careful the drinkability is a 5.0 and the abv is 11%.

Service is also great. They are knowledgeable and willing to help you find a beer that will suite your taste even if you've never heard of any of the beers on the menu. One server who has longer black hair and glasses actually bet me a beer once that me and my girlfriend couldn't finish the crab cakes by ourselves. We finished them, and enjoyed a free St. Bernardus.

The atmosphere is pretty cool on a Friday or Saturday as well. It can be hard to get a table and even harder to get to the bar, getting outdoor seating can be even more of a struggle on a warm evening. Servers practically have to elbow their way through the crowd to get you your drinks, but they're up to the challenge. You'll find everyone from yuppies, white collar professionals, and college professors to raised truck driving famous stars and straps wearing inland empire types, local skaters, and college students (The Back Abbey is walking distance from the Claremont Colleges). Make sure your bring your wallet though, beers on tap range from $5-$9 and burgers are about $10. If you live in Claremont or near-by and love beer (especially if you love belgian beer like me) The Back Abbey is a must. Almost forgot, you can even buy bottles to go which is a big plus since some of the beers there are un-findable anywhere else nearby (Liquorama has quite a good selection though).

Photo of chelovek
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

The Back Abbey is located in the new portion of downtown Claremont on the east side of Indian Hill. The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. Tap selection is great, although I do wish they would consider hosting at least ONE American brew on tap considering they serve English and German breer as well. Tap beer is about 9 bucks a pop, a little pricy for my taste. With that said the beers whether on tap or in bottle are always served with matching glassware and are of top quality. Bottles selection is decent. As the previous reviewer stated they serve Cantillion (Had the Rose last trip) which I consider a must for any bar that claims they are specifically a "Belgian Beer Bar". The bar itself is comfy enough with a nice patio for summer sippin. I don't eat meat but from what I hear the burgers are the best.

Photo of 0110x011
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

A Belgian beer lover's wonderland. A killer selection of Belgians, both on tap and in bottles, and appropriate glassware - a big plus. Had a Saint Bernardus ABT 12 and Chimay white on tap. Bottle selection was extensive, including a wide range of Cantillon and Trappist ales (two bellweathers for me). Prices were pretty high ($45 for Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise - ouch), but not outrageous enough to be a deterrent. Didn't get to try the food, but I understand it's pretty spectacular. Good vibe, and super friendly staff. This is my new home.

Photo of ramiro
4.4/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Good place to try new beer, we went on July 5th a group of 8, luckily we got there around 4pm so it wasn't crowded yet... the good beer priced an average around $8 bucks, got good advise on what to try from waiters, dark Belgian beers(awesome stuff), Food was good but overpriced for burgers and fries. Tried the Rochefort #8 Trappist Ale it was a great beer as well. We left two hours later (6pm) and it was starting to get very busy. Overall i will go back even though its a 1hr drive for me, it has a small town feel and very friendly environment from the working crew with good advise as long as you tell them what kind of beer your looking for.

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The Back Abbey in Claremont, CA
90 out of 100 based on 30 ratings.