Beer bars have gotten a bit of a bad rap of late. There seems to be a widening gulf between bars where people drink beer to relax and have fun, and bars where people drink beer to take notes and wax poetic on the difference between East Coast and West Coast IPAs (presumably while stroking an unkempt beard).
There’s no question that Brookline’s The Publick House falls into the latter camp. A sign behind the bar announces “No Shots, No Pitchers.” A 35-strong draft list, updated daily, features Belgian and Belgian-style beers plus local craft brews. And then there’s the list of 50-plus beers by the bottle, which features an all-star selection of monk-brewed Trappist ales.
But there are plenty of signs that The Publick House doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s the tremendous wooden back bar topped by castle-like battlements. And the gothic light fixtures and stained-glass windows that are more Cinderella’s castle than Game of Thrones. But mostly it’s the staff, who will happily explain the difference between a Rochefort 8 and a Rochefort 10 while walking you through their favorites from the dizzyingly expansive menu.
Few beers stay on the draft list for long—Maine-made Allagash White and the Fiddlehead IPA from Vermont are keepers. However, it’s the Trappist portion of the bottle list that touts Belgian beer making at its finest and best fits the medieval-kitsch surroundings (many are served in branded chalices that feel downright kingly).
Whether you diligently log your suds consumption on Untappd or you just recently learned that Belgium makes more than waffles, The Publick House’s well-worn bar has a place for you. And that’s something we’ll raise a chalice to.
Bartenders are happy to dispense beer knowledge no matter the crowd, but show up early before it gets too crowded to make the most of their consultation.
The best seats in the house are in the “Monk’s Cell,” a small bottle-lined room in the back.
Beer-induced appetites can be satiated by Moules Frites and The Mac and Cheese, a make-your-own mac situation featuring hearty add-ins like braised short rib and andouille sausage.
Because man was not meant to live on beer alone, the Scotch and bourbon selections at The Publick House are outstanding.
Worldwide only 14 monasteries brew Trappist beer. One—St. Joseph’s Abbey—is located in Spencer, Massachusetts.