Armsby Abbey

Not Rated.
Armsby AbbeyArmsby Abbey
BA SCORE
100
world-class

115 Reviews
Reviews: 115
Visits: 193
rAvg: 4.64
pDev: n/a
Taps: 22
Bottles: 85
Cask: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

144 Main St
Worcester, Massachusetts, 01608-1105
United States
phone: (508) 795-1012

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @armsbyabbey

Notes:
Place added by: dougnboston on 08-02-2008

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 115 | Visits: 193
Photo of Dida
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Great folks here. Price is right for the quality of food that you get. It's nice to have a place to eat fresh local food in the woo, AND it has an amazing beer and drink menu! This place is on point in every way. it's our go to place for sure for dinner and for brunch. (269 characters)

Photo of krantul
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Hardwood floors... an amazing, locally constructed, custom-built bar... towering shelves of Belgian glassware... adjacent to the bar, a drink rail built from a slab of recovered wood, stretching between a pair of exposed support column... it's a cool place, classy without being stuffy. A great variety in clientele, from beer nerds in t-shirts to attorneys in suits... but all having a common interest in good beer, good spirits, and handmade food.

Everything here is high quality. 22 taps with 6 dedicated Belgian lines: all craft beer, no crap, no faux-craft. Over 150 bottles, with at least 80 Belgians, in case nothing on draft strikes your fancy. A small, but carefully selected wine list, and a dizzying array of artisanal spirits--nothing mass market there, either. $5 is the norm for a standard pint, with imports and higher-gravity beers sometimes a bit higher. Naturally, the Belgians can run a bit higher, but all of the pricing is fair.

The food is freaking amazing. The menu is very focused: cheese boards, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas are the norm. Some entrée-type food shows up as a special from time to time, and the stuff they prepare for the occasional beer dinners ranks with most ambitious gastropubs. Special accolades for the in-house baker/pastry chef--the breads and desserts are the best that money can buy.

This is a world-class beer bar and easily one of the best in New England. A must-visit beer destination for anyone in the northeast (1,472 characters)

Photo of brewmeister1984
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This was such an amazing experience. Only the best quality here, farm fresh ingredients and the best New England beers on tap. This is the tops when it comes to quality. Love this place (185 characters)

Photo of ml67
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I’ve been going to the Armsby Abbey regularly since its opening in 2008, and manage to get there a minimum of 2 times/month. It’s a little out of the way for me as I live in NH, but it is well worth the drive.

The bar itself has a definite Belgian feel to it. One of the first things you notice is the impressive glassware displayed on the wooden shelves surrounding the stainless steel tap manifold. The brick, polished wood, tall stools and high ceilings complete the clean, but welcoming look.

The food selection is eclectic, locally sourced and even better than the menu descriptions. And yes, the jerk chicken really is hot!

There are beer bars that have more variety, but none in my experience that cover a broader spectrum of quality, and often rare, local, domestic and European (Belgian-centric) craft beers. The 22 taps assure regular rotation, so you never have to worry about experiencing a beer past its prime. Alec Lopez rightfully takes a lot of care and pride in selecting which beers are featured. The bottle selection is fantastic, with some genuine rarities featured on the first page of the beer menu.

The beer dinners and events at the Abbey are really well done and a lot of fun. The recently held 2nd annual Founders Breakfast and Stoutfest events were simply sublime. Where else can you enjoy Founders Breakfast Stout, KBS and CBS with stunningly prepared food – all before noon!

I’ve been fortunate to travel around the world in my work, and seek out beer and beer places at every chance I get. For me, the passion and uncompromising strive for quality in everything they do make the Abbey my favorite place to enjoy good beer and food with friends. The Abbey really is a jewel, and with the Dive Bar, elevate Worcester to a desirable beer destination. (1,790 characters)

Photo of grotonmarketguy
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Armsby Abbey is hands down the best place to "experience" beer in the area, in all of Massachusetts, and possibly beyond. Alec Lopez the owner goes the extra mile to acquire the worlds finest beers on a regular basis. Always a good mix. Always something for everyone. Their bottle list is very extensive and he always keeps a selection of rarities in there to tickle the connoisseur. The staff is very friendly and informative and downright AWESOME. They also now how to navigate you into a pleasant experience if you are new to these kinds of beers or have a preference to certain styles. They allow tastes as well so you will never get poured a beer that you might hate. Food is out of this world. Many a whole pig have been slaughtered for your culinary delight. The produce is all sourced from local farms as is the cheese. The Cheese plates draw me back time and time again. What better to cut the edge of a De Dolle Dulle Teve than a nice hannibelle? My only complaint about the Armsby Abbey is that the tap handles could be made of artisanal hand blown glass that would be cool. (1,085 characters)

Photo of IPACRAZE
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

huge rotating draft line, bottle selection, some one of a kind beers not available just any where ( the special contacts and connections this establishment has is remarkable) I've had some of the best sour, bitters and farmhouse selections this side of the pond here at the armsby( I recently attended opstel, belgium spontaneous fermentation festival ,so its like stepping back to that day), great beer, dinners fantastic food, artisan food, the most knowledgable bar/ wait staff that is in the business ,also extensive selection of small batch spirits and wines, some of the best mixed drinks in the world i.e. martinis ect. great place for friends to meet and enjoy all that is offered. (689 characters)

Photo of clarkm04
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Truly outstanding establishment! I can't recommend a better place than this amazing bar.

I was in Worcester for a conference and went here three times.

The beer menu is top-notch. On all three occasions I was assisted by three different people who truly knew each of the beers on the menu in great detail and depth. Every recommendation was spot-on. At times, you'll visit a beer focused bar where the service is borderline clueless about the line-up. Not here, the wait staff was invaluable since I'm from the Midwest, I was unfamiliar with the Northeast craft scene so it was great to have all my questions answered about the smaller area breweries like Clown Shoes, Pretty Things, or Cisco.

On night one, the server drew me a map to a liquor store in walking distance of my hotel while talking elaborately about the beer. I had their pulled pork and it was literally the best pulled pork I've ever had. This is quite a feat given I've lived in Iowa and Nebraska for 15+ years and I've had numerous killer pork dishes throughout the Midwest. Every dish I ate was absolutely delicious and I loved the cozy decor of the bar.

On night two, sat at the bar. The bartender was really cool and accommodating. Again, received great advice on beer along with eating a fabulous soup.

On night three, had an amazing blueberry pie along with some outstanding advice and conversation with a different server. She was a great server too. My girlfriend and I talked to her for about 30-minutes about beer, beer focused road trips, homebrewing, and any other beer topic.

Few beer focused places can top this place. Outstanding food! Outstanding service! Extensive beer menu! (1,667 characters)

Photo of antaydos
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I really don't have anything more to offer than everyone else has said regarding this place, except that I've been twice so far, and each time, I've been blown away. It has an utterly fantastic selection with great prices (considering a "normal" bar will charge $4 for a Bud, these prices are outstanding).

The food is all from local farms which is a huge asset. The cheeseboards and the pizzas are delicious.

I can't say enough about this place; it's a dream come true in my hometown. (488 characters)

Photo of apex_predator
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I have been to the Abbey many times, and I have never left disappointed. Their beer selection is among the best I've ever seen. Their food has an incredibly short journey from farm-to-table. Their service is spectacular. I can honestly say that this might be the best spot in all of Massachusetts. (301 characters)

Photo of erantul
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I have tried just about everything on the menu. Went on the first weekend it opened and have been going back about once a week since.

It DOES get crowded, but that makes me happy, 'cause I like good places to eat and drink in the Woo. The crowds vary from people who look like they'd be at home in a biker bar, to college students and their professors, to hipsters, to your average 30 somethings out for a night... in short, it's a friendly place for everyone.

The service has never been anything but friendly. It is slow at times, but it's a slow food restaurant. That's part of the design: quality food made to order. If you're absolutely starving when you get there, there are a few quicker items, like a hummus or an olives/feta dip, but do expect to wait on anything you order.

For those who don't drink beer, or who are having a night where they don't feel like beer, the cocktails are absolutely fantastic. They are made with fresh seasonal fruit and are on the expensive side, but worth every penny. My mother, after having a vodka-lemonade made with fresh lemons, blueberries and a sprig of thyme, commented how it tasted healthy for an alcoholic beverage. The wine list is very good, as well, and I've bought bottles after having a glass at the Armsby Abbey.

I love that the bartenders and waitstaff take the time to explain all the different beers and menu options. It can be a bit daunting, I'd imagine, for someone who doesn't know what they're looking at to be confronted with all those beers. I'm a fairly experienced beer drinker and I appreciate their knowledge when I am unsure what a beer is. I love that no matter who you are, if you have an honest question about what they serve, the staff takes the time to explain it to you. I have seen some sarcasm back and forth between clientele and staff, but it's usually either based on a friendly relationship or because a patron came in and was a jerk right off the bat. This place is down the street from a venue that is famous for its arrests and drug deals and drunken, badly behaving frat boys and the owners don't really want any of that and will swiftly put down or remove anyone they see as about to cause a problem. That is also something I appreciate.

The physical beauty of the place has been mentioned. I know it seems trendy, but the bar and the tables are mahogany from a sustainable farm in South Africa, and the standing rail is an ancient board out of an ancient bridge that was being taken apart and recycled. Not to mention that the elbow rail there is one of the most comfortable I've ever leaned on! I hate bar rails with uncomfortable edges! It may seem trendy, but I think it's classic and will be beautiful for what I hope turns into years to come! Worcester has always had great restaurants, even when they have less-than-impressive beer selections, but this one is raising the bar (haha) for them, and I hope they all follow suit. (2,929 characters)

Photo of Lambocalrisien
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This place is awesome! Without question the best place to grab some delicious food and great beer in all of central Massachusetts and maybe the entire state. They always have a great selection on tap and update their online tap list daily. Have had Hill Farmstead and Tree House Brewing on draft there to name a few. A must visit if you're in the area, will not let you down. (375 characters)

Photo of jeepcj85
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Ive been waiting for awhile for this place to open with much anticipation. I was definitely NOT disappointed!

The Abbey is located on the north end of Main St in downtown Worcester, a short walk from the train station and I290 with plenty of parking.

The atmosphere is great with high ceilings, brick walls and a custom mahoghany bar that's spectacular.

The beer selection is well rounded. There are 22 taps and over 150 bottles. There are 6 Belgians on draught and over 80 bottles!! Oerbier Special Reserva, Stille Nacht, and Malheur Dark Brut are some highlights on the bottle list. N'ice Chouffe 07 was on draught as well as Nostradamus, Koningshoeven Quad, Urthel HopIt, and many more. The glassware collection is amazing, with the proper clean glass for almost every Belgian beer! There is a small wine list and an unbelievable drink list featuring fresh muddled fruits and hand crafted spirits.

The food menu is fairly extensive for a bar, with creative high quality pizzas, sandwiches, and cheese plates. Most ingredients for the food come from local farms as well.

Ive been to many a beer bar and this one ranks in the top tier in my opinion. (1,160 characters)

Photo of GonzoHomebrewer
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

The Abbey was one of the first places I checked out when I moved to the MetroWest part of MA. I've never ever been disappointed during any of my visits.

It does start with the atmosphere. Initially it does seem to come off as high-end, but once you get settled in, you realize that it's just as welcoming as any comfort/dive bar you've been in. The bartenders are always nice and very cordial, willing to help out with your beer/food choice. When it gets busy, this, as expected, gets toned down, but you must understand that basically everything they do is labor-intensive. They're not just pouring you a cocktail, they're creating it in front of you. Even when pouring beer, if the pour isn't just right, they'll do whatever it takes to make sure it is.

The selection is unbelievable. On-tap, I honestly think they blow any place in Boston completely out of the water. Their bottle selection is extensive and its always worth checking out as they get any possible Cantillon that is sold in the state, although the Cantillon bottle prices are a tad higher than in some places i've gone to in Boston, but at the same time, I've had Fou Foune and '09 LP Kriek on tap for about $8-$9, so that's not something I'd hold against them.

The food has never been a disappointment. The prices are probably a tad more than most would like to pay, but it is also comforting to know where all your food is coming from. Not to mention everything is of top-notch quality. The brunch also may be the best in the state.

I know some will laugh at me suggesting that the value is reasonable here, but for what you are getting, it really can't be beat. Highly recommended. (1,660 characters)

Photo of Sarah-Jean
5/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I can't say enough about The Abbey. I have been a customer since the doors opened. They have the best beer selections and food pairings. Bloody Mary's are the bomb!!! If I could go there every weekend for Sat/Sun brunch I would be there. The staff is also wonderful!!! Love it here!!!

The actual bar and woodworking throughout are so amazing too!! (349 characters)

Photo of MystikCelt
4.98/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I've been to the Extreme Beer Fest for the past three years running. But what I look forward to -most- about that is the chance to stop at Armsby for Brunch on the ride home Sunday. (181 characters)

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Most of the time, when I go to a beer bar or a brew pub, the food is secondary to the beer. Here, both food and beer are exceptional. If I could give a higher rating to the food, I would.
Smack in downtown Worcester, this is a fairly small place, longer than wide. Brick wall on the left, with the tap list on a blackboard. Beautiful wood bar on the right, with an incredible display of glassware behind the bar, at both ends. The bar seats around fifteen, and there are nine tables. One TV, mercifully off, and nice background music.

22 taps, 6 Belgian and 140 bottles, at least 80 Belgian. Quite an impressive list. Three IPAs on the tap list, I had a couple Sixpoint Bengalis. Very nice, and a good choice for my meal.

As I said, the food is outstanding. They are locovores, and have a small but impressive menu. Cheese slates, salads, pizza, and sandwiches. My wife had a grilled cheese sandwich: two cheeses, chard, and a fig/onion compote on oatmeal bread. Excellent. I had a jerk chicken sandwich. The menu says it's really, really hot, since it's a real Jamaican jerk with Scotch Bonnet peppers. Our waitress made sure I was aware of this fact before I ordered. And hot it was, incendiary in fact. The topping of cole slaw abated the heat, and my IPA was the perfect accompaniment

I could go on and on about Armsby Abbey, but suffice to say the three hour round trip is well worth it. (1,395 characters)

Photo of TheNino
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I have now been to the Armsby Abbey multiple times. I rarely feel the need to review bars on Beer Advocate but the Abbey needs to be recognized. Considering this pub is located in Worcester I am positive it will be even more of a surprise to most coming from Boston who believe anything outside cannot compete. This is hands down the best bar in MA and in the top 3 in New England.

The atmosphere can be very different depending on the night you go. There are not a lot of tables so on Fridays and Saturdays expect to wait. The hostess was very kind and seemed very honest when telling me the amount of time I might have to wait to sit down for food. I was able to get a bar seat within 30 minutes. The music was not too loud but I believe due to the shape of the room and brick wall the noise level was somewhat high making it tough to have a normal conversation. I also went on a Wednesday night and it was much quieter and the music was a great selection.

The Abbey had 22 drafts written on the left wall chalkboard. It was the most eclectic draft list I had seen at one time with the exception of maybe Lord Hobo. I had a Firestone Walker XIV ($12) before my meal and a Ballast Point Sculpin ($6) with it. I started with the Falafel salad ($12) which was pricey but was spot on for flavor and quality. The greens were super fresh and the texture of the falafel was spot on. I then ordered the Thai chicken pizza ($15) which was thin crust, baked to a nice crisp and served on a piece of slate. I would definitely order both items again. After talking with the bartenders over the course of my visits I found out that everything is made from scratch and locally sourced whenever possible.

I am a lingerer so I sat at the bar for much longer than I probably should have but it was mainly due to listening to the bartenders describing the various beers on draft to other customers. I chatted with both of the bartenders while taking my time. They were very diligent in refilling my water and asking me for my opinion on the beers and food. You could tell that both had gone through some education behind beer styles, beer profiles, beer serving and beer recommendations. I have never encountered this level of knowledge in New England behind a bar specific to beer. I consider myself pretty well versed and they kept up with me the entire time.

Bottom line, the Armsby Abbey is not an $8 pub grub food joint, it is a pub that presents craft beer the way it should be, in proper glassware, proper serving techniques and educated staff. The food is high quality and always changing with the local seasons.

Two final mentions: First, the bottle list is extensive covering every Belgian style and some German and American styles. Second, the bar itself is all wood with two giant pillars marking the draft tower. Two very large wooden shelves hold most of the glassware for every style of beer they carry. It is a very professional looking bar. (2,948 characters)

Photo of indiapaleale
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Finally made it to AA on a trip home from the airport. Found some parking right down the street and stepped inside on a snowy night to find a place that lived up to all the hype (and then some)!

Nice cozy place inside with exposed brick, a great bar and big open space with a good deal of tables and some quiet live music in the back.

Great tap list for sure. They had Imperial Stout Trooper, Sculpin and Rogue I2PA as well as Barrel Aged Allagash Black on tap. Pretty incredible stuff.

Service was prompt and helpful. The cheese plate was incredible as was the super spicy jerk chicken sandwich I got. Talk about some amazing food, I almost forgot I was there for the beer!

Price was more than reasonable based on the quality of both the food and the beer. I will be back and plan on driving the hour to go for dinner there with my wife sometime soon.

This is the newest place that I wish was right down the street from my house. (935 characters)

Photo of ajohnson2371
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This is my top place for going out and having a beer. I never look at the extensive set beer list, but always look to the "What's on tap?" board. There are typically at least twenty selections, and a third of them are always Belgian brews.
Prices for a single glass will range from $5 up to $12 or so, depending on what you're getting, but the staff is well-trained and highly knowledgeable on the beers they serve. I would expect nothing less from a place that specializes in imports, craft and microbrews.

The food is top quality, mostly (if not all) from local farms, and all organic. You may have to pay a little more, and wait a little while, but it is definitely worth the time and money. The brunches are always top notch.

The place is usually packed at nights, and especially on weekends, so it's a good idea to get in early, but you can usually find a place to stand and have a drink. There's no loud music, no bands, no fluff -- just a place to relax, drink up, and enjoy yourself. (993 characters)

Photo of DNICE555
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Parking and walking into this small unassuming bar I had no idea what to expect. I sat down and the friendly bartender brought over two glasses of water and menus without my fiancé or myself even asking. He went over the tap list with us and menu. There were fellow beer nerds next to us having a great conversation about beer. Tons of glassware. Everything served properly. Food was amazing including desert. The spicy jerk chicken was out of this world. It brought tears to my eyes it was so hot. A bottle of peche mortel complimented it nicely. Pretty laid back atmosphere. Not pretentious at all which is an unfortunate downfall of some establishments that take their love of beer a bit too far and forget about the service aspect of their business. Everyone from the hostess to the bartender who served us was awesome. Even a cook who brought the food over to us was friendly and asked if I did mma because I was wearing sprawl shorts. A little kindness really goes a long way. Couldn't ask for a better selection. About 22 beers on tap including a nice mix from most styles. I had a sixpoint bengali ipa and the peche mortel. Extensive bottle list. I was going to put a little on the pricey side but for a nice place with gourmet food and quality beer... seems reasonable to me. You get what you pay for. Awesome place will hopefully be back soon. Wish I knew about it when I was back at the Cross. (1,405 characters)

Photo of 00766
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Excellent bartenders. Well informed and very helpful as is the wait staff. THe food is interesting and never disappointing. Great, interesting unusual pizzas. excellent macaroni and cheese. If you have non beer drinkers in your party they have good mixed drinks I am told. Breads are excellent and made there. Ambiance is great,. No TV, Music, and other noise. You can actually hear the people you go with.
The beers on tap represent the world and the US. Great choices, nice people, all around a great place to go for a drink and a bite to eat. (545 characters)

Photo of cigarchitect
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

My home away from home. I am here twice a week on average. I tend to go around 4 most days after work. The crowd is small and generally consists of white collar types. Its great when it's quiet and you can talk to the barstaff, great folks. They are all excited about beer. When its slow, everyone employed there seems to be encouraged to sample all the taps. It gets pretty crowded at night, but that's to be expected. 22 taps, all heavy hitters, no filler beers or compromises. Food is top notch. Locally sourced ingredients and eclectic styles. Authentic. The bottle selection is fantastic featuring hard to find rare cellar selections. (Nemesis, avery black tot($19 for 12oz), etc) The owner Alex seems like a nice guy, he came out to talk to us once about the yellow tail ceviche we ordered, which was only 2 days off the boat. I work 5 minutes away, but if I would travel if I had to. (890 characters)

Photo of gchop
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

If you are in the Worcester area this is the place to go. Best beer selection (along with the Dive Bar) for miles. Rogue Double Dead Guy and Southern Tier Oat were my choices on this day. All beer is served in the proper glassware.
If you need to convince a non-beer drinker to go with you they have an equally varied and unique drink menu.

The food enhanced the experience. I went there for the beer and left raving about the food. The pizzas are delicious and original (try the Curry and Vegetable).

The beer and food menus change weekly so you will always find something new. I will definitely be back soon. (614 characters)

Photo of SRBush1974
4.93/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

Wish I lived near this place! Found out about it on a thread and stopped in for a pint on Friday since they had plenty of HF on tap. Could have stayed all night!!!!! Will be back again when up that way. (202 characters)

Photo of bled
4.9/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

One of my favorite places for both beer and food, and I try and stop in whenever I can.

They have 22 rotating taps that change every few days of mostly Belgian and obscure beers. They also have a lot of bottles available along with a selection of craft liquors.

The food is very good and has many local farm sourced ingredients. The Mac and cheese is my favorite, along with the always excellent desserts. Brunch is really tasty on the weekends as well.

If you are in the Worcester area and are looking for good food and/or high quality beer you should definitely give them a try. (583 characters)

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Armsby Abbey in Worcester, MA
100 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.