Friday, July 18, 2008

The Back Abbey, Claremont, CA

A Belgian beer bar (more like gastro-pub) called The Back Abbey just opened up a month ago about 3 miles away from me. It's located in the really hoppin' downtown Claremont "packing house" area that has been developing over the last few years. It's almost the perfect location for it, given that it's within the college town of the highly academically respected Claremont Colleges just a few blocks away. This is EXACTLY what this area needed, and to be honest there aren't too many places around here I would think it could fit that well, but downtown Claremont is the perfect place.

They carry about ~25-30 taps, mostly all from Belgium, with the outliers being Spaten Pils, Ayinger Celebrator, Unibroue Maudite, Aventinus Weizenbock, and Fuller's London Pride. The rest of the taps are filled with as follows (what I can remember)- St. Bernardus Abt 12, St. Bernardus Wit, Saison Dupont, Moinette Brune, Moinette Blond, Foret, Glazen Toren Saison, Glazen Toren Tripel, Scaldis, La Chouffe, and La Chouffe IPA, Leffe Brune, Delirium Tremens, Tripel Karmeliet, Lindeman's Framboise, Chimay tripel, Stella Artois, Kwak, Piraat, and Augustijn. The taps don't seem to be changing much. I know I'm forgetting some, but rest assured their bottle selection is huge too. It's as good as our best Belgian beer shop in Southern California and not ridiculously marked up either- ie- Cantillion Iris is normally $18-20 in the stores and $27 at The Back Abbey. All beers on tap are served in the correct beer glassware. Not just the correct glassware for the style, but the actually glass that was made for that brand of beer.

The food is what also makes this a destination for those that aren't even beer lovers. They have a simple menu- moules, frites, soups, brats, cheese plates, and probably the most popular item- the Back Abbey Burger (and a couple variations too). Many have said this rivals the famous Father's Office Burger, and I can say it does. They use the same sort of greens and caramelized onions as FO does. It tastes very similar, and is very good (for $13), though I think the cheeses (gruyere and maytag blue cheese) used in the FO burger make it a bit more interesting. The frites are very good, and my sister who went to lunch with me loved the corn chowder.

At night this place gets very busy. Each time I've been there at night it's standing room only until spots at a table or the bar opens up. The nice thing is there is plenty of room to stand and hang out on the patio while you're waiting.

I have a feeling only the local Inland Empire people really know about this place but it should seriously be a destination for people all over Southern California- from West LA, to Orange County, to the Pasadena area etc. People travel that far to go to the Father's Office, people should travel that far to get to The Back Abbey.

(photos courtesy of Raul and Karen P,


Jay said...

This sounds like a fantastic place. I'll remember if it I'm ever in La Verne or Claremont or Walnut.

John said...

The beer is good, the food is horrible. The bratwurst is the worst that I have ever had. The burger is no where near the level of Father's Office.

Cliff said...

John, what are you talking about. This place has some of the best food period! That's why I am taking my PBS food show there this week.Great food and world class brews.