Its a sports bar, though more dimly light than most. The white stucco walls are coated in a grey film from years of dust & smoke. Thankfully smoking is now longer allowed in bars in Mass. They have a scattering of dusty TVs on the walls showing Boston and local UMass sport teams. Off the main bar area is a small dinning area, and on the other side a game area with a few pool tables, video games, and more TVs. They do have Keno. Beer selection is the normal BMC, and some local brews. They do have Narragansett beer on tap. I have not tried their food but what I have seen it looks good. Typical bar food. Overall this is a decent place that does seem to cater to an older clientèle, (grad students, professors, UMass employees, and locals) compared to their neighbor the Hanger, and the downtown Amherst bars that cater to the 21yrs olds. The service here is efficient, & friendly.
Located right next to the Hangar, only a few minutes up the road from UMass. This is a sports bar, and the atmosphere reflects that. There are large flat screen televisions strategically placed throughout the bar with different games playing on each one. There are tables and booths at which to dine, and a horseshoe shaped bar in the middle of the building. Pool tables, an air hockey table, and various arcade games sit in a small wing off to the side. The clientele is mostly older, in about the 30s to 40s age range. College age people can be found there occasionally as well. This place is actually pretty tame for a sports bar. It never gets too loud or rowdy. At times Jagermeister or some other brand sponsors events here and brings pretty young women to pass out merch and play games. These seem to fail at drawing in the college crowd, which I believe is their intended purpose.
I have been here about a dozen times, and quality is usually always good, though I have gotten an off beer due to dirty tap lines. Service is always on par. Waitresses tend to you efficiently and politely and bartenders are nice.
The beer selection here is nothing special, really. They always carry Sam Adams and a few locals like shipyard, BBC, etc. I seem to recall having some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale there as well. The selection is mostly macro of the BMC and Guinness family though. They have enough craft choices to keep a beer geek content for the night, but nothing that will impress.
The food is good. I had a nice Reuben sandwich on marble rye with fries. It was pretty solid. Prices are all reasonable, nothing is more or less expensive than at other bars. Free popcorn is a welcome change of pace from the usual bar peanuts.
Overall, Rafters is pretty average. I used to come here every so often because of its proximity to the UMass campus. Most of the college crowd tends to shy away though, preferring the bars in Amherst center or the Hangar right next door. I never mind coming here, but it is never my first choice. I feel like the Hangar just kills this place in competition. Great beer, excellent wings, and just as many televisions for the game. Unless you don't care about missing out on the best wings in MA or just want an atmosphere that is a bit more tame, you might as well just go to the Hangar.