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Congregation Ale House
Taps: 37 / Bottles: 117
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
201 E Broadway
phone: (562) 432-2337
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Reviews by slander:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Oh, fuck; the neighborhood. Sorry. Neighborhoods. Plural. But then it got moreso downtowny and less scary those last few blocks, with the threat of not finding one’s car upon return decreased significantly. Which I’m all about when in a rental in the foreign land that California is...
Corner joint, eased in. Off to the right, a wraparound marble topped bar with a cushy soft lip, wood base, and phat phoot box. Seating for 10 or so broken once by a large pillar and again beyond the shorty corner. And no bar would be complete without glowing, coaster sized, beer cooling spots with breweries I can’t see as having approved their participation in the ‘Chilldisc’, their edges illuminated in changing colors.
Matching marble barback counter, holding 32 handles on 2 rows of 16 each on the barback, a few of which are empty. Glassware countered to both sides of & behind the taps, and a rack on the end with tulips, snifters, flutes, & stemmys. Bottles coolered below and around the bend. Stained glassish logo piece behind the bar above, and shelved inlays to both sides with random bottles displayed.
Big windows over both sides of the corner, and beigey walls otherwise; gargoyle action, placards & tins, and flatscreens in the corners. Tap handles displayed in rows up high along the wall borders. Dark ceilings, exposed ductwork, and massive wrought iron chandeliers with candle looking lamps. Drop bulb lamps in rows, mounted solos, and strung holiday lighting.
4 hightops just off the bar in 2 rows, and 2 lowboys back past there. Bar counter space & a single hightop in the windows up front, and more of the same to the rear below the center draft boards; a slat triptych piece with magnetic strips, maybe, I can’t quite tell. Nook in the back corner with tables, some with kitchen views, and 7 tables of mix & match catching a nice breeze in the side porch over Promenade (Had to put my hand out to make sure there was nothing there before I smashed into the lack of a door).
So, 27 taps up just now, 2/3 of them American craft; the majority of these Bear Republic offerings (Big Bear Stout, Hop Rod Rye, Cuvee De Bubba Wild Ale, Roggenbier, Nor’Cal APA, Heritage Wee Heavy, Grand Am APA, Short Track Dunkel, Jack London ESB, and Rebellions Apollo & Delta), on the heels of an event this past weekend, and the remainder a mix & match more Cali (Ballast Point Smoke Screen, Sudwerk Maibock, Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin, El Segundo Citra Pale Ale), than not (Epic Brainless on Peaches, Great Divide 18th Anniversary Oak Aged IPA). The other 1/3 are imports, Belgian heavy (Dupont Avec Les Bon Veux, Van Honsebrouck Bacchus, Drie Fonteinen Zwet.Be, Ellezelloise Hercule Stout, Het Anker Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor, Unibroue Blanche De Chambly, Palm, Lindemans Framboise, Schlossbrauerei Au-Hallertau Piwo Grodziskie, Youngs Double Stout).
Wanted the Bear Republic Cuvee De Bubba Wild Ale but it kicked. They did, however, have a lone pitcher of it left in the cooler that I was happy to have at. It didn’t suck. Moved onto the Bear Republic Jack London ESB, grainy but lovely, and then toggled samples of the Bear Republic Rebellions, and having deemed the Delta to be the better of the two, I did imbibe. Returned the next night for more of the same. De Dolle Dulle Teve now added to the mix; Ben is foolishly drinking it while I went at the Bear Republic Rebellion Delta again.
And a bottle list; 132 selections in all, the menu broken out by style. Who, I wonder, granted them Fantome? I like the way ‘lambics & other sours’ (Drie Fonteinen, Hanssens, Rodenbach, and Russian River Consecration), live in a different place than ‘fruit beers’ (Lindemans Kriek & Peche). Nice list overall. Orval runs a toward the top of the range $11, but the priciest item on the menu is the Scaldis Prestige @ $45, with a not so close second De Molen Pek & Veren @ $34.
Big board of foodings dangles to the rear. It’s late, so we’re going to get something on while we can. I did the grilled chicky sandwich, and Ben, the ribeye & white cheddar burger. I violated his fries in his absence.
Servers were good. Ben said “For a place that considers itself a serious beer bar, when you ask what a beer is, they go wiiish and pull you a pinch without hesitation”. I agree and do like that. All sorts of specials, foodwise and drinky drink, too. Girls dressed in catholic school garb do not offend. And they’ve got a really good jukebox. I’ve been running it for more than an hour now. I apologize to no one. Ben attempted to add behind my 16 songs, which are awesome, ‘cause I gone selected them, and I have much better taste than you. I could do some time here…
10-02-2012 00:33:24 |
More by slander
More User Reviews:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25 | $$$
Stopped by here on a recent excursion to the LA/ Long Beach area.
The place is moderately big with a patio area. When you come in you actually get in line and order your food/ first beer at the counter. Had the opportunity to talk a bit of beer with one of the female cashiers and she seemed to have a good knowledge of the beers they had on tap. I had one of their sausages while there and it was awesome. Food portions are not huge, but they are quality. Their tap list was quite good as well. They had remnants of a Goose Island tap take over left, and I had the good fortune of ordering several glasses of Sofie Paradisi. That beer is probably jading my overall impression of the selection, but damn it is good. Not only a good tap list, but the bottle list was quite extensive as well. About the only complaint is that taps and bottles were a bit pricey. Overall though, a quality place to go if visiting Long Beach, and literally almost right next to Beachwood BBQ.
05-29-2013 04:19:52 |
More by zhanson88
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$
Love this place!
One of my favorite bars to go to on a Sunday afternoon. Beer selection is almost always on point. There is usually something there for everyone. Have had Pliny on tap there multiple times and didn't even plan it. Great for the whole family and atmosphere is very inviting with open windows in a downtown setting.
To go along with your brew, the rib eye burger is one of the best burgers I have ever had! French fries are on point and overall the food is fresh and delicious.
Definitely a spot to just go and have a beer and a burger. Refrigerated metal discs on the bar are pretty rad and keep your beer cold when solo.
Best of all Beachwood is right next door! Definitely a nice destination to knock back a few when in downtown LBC.
02-05-2013 00:20:54 |
More by gatornlb
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | $$
I visited Congregation since it is right around the block from Beachwood. The theme is psuedo-religious with servers in Catholic school garb and whatnot. It was pretty crowded but I was able to grab a spot at the bar. A neat thing they have is built-in cooled coasters on the bar top that you can leave your drink on to keep it cold. The beer I ordered was fresh and served in the appropriate glassware. Service was a bit sketchy as there was some sort of trivia game going on. The selection seemed pretty good but a lot of the taps were out on the tap list board. I was able to spy their beer fridge that seemed stocked with good bottles of mainly Belgian beers. Prices were pretty reasonable for beer. I am glad I stopped by to check it out and I would come back again when I had more time to enjoy things a bit more.
04-03-2012 02:04:02 |
More by UCLABrewN84
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
I decided to check this place out since it is virtually next door to Beachwood II. Walking in it's certainly smaller than I thought with a bunch of breweriana on the walls along with the Catholic theme. Quite empty when I went there for Happy Hour or Mass as they call it.
Had a Borgo Enkir which was served properly was in good condition. I had the Duck and Bacon sausage that was enjoyable but nothing to go crazy for.
The selection was good on-tap, a nice mix of styles. Their bottle list is impressive with lots of Belgians, all the Trappists except for Westy of course and even a few true lambics. Prices are good, I even saw Yorkshire Stingo for $10 a bottle which is less than in the store.
Service is fine, they got me my food and beer with no problems, but never really engaged me otherwise, but that was fine on this day.
All and all a good location in Long Beach. Its immediate vicinity to Beachwood II makes me wonder if it'll last, but they seem to be doing well from what I've heard and I wish them the best. I'm all for more better beer locations in the Southland.
09-22-2011 00:17:30 |
More by Halcyondays
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
This place is good. A solid and sure place that is so close to my house that I find myself here a lot.
The beer list is very good but could be a lot better with some work. The food is good and decent but not thrilling.
The decor is really impressive but I'm bot a fan of the Catholic theme or the girls uniforms. It seems contrived and hokey to me.
I'm never disappointed and I take friends here all the time.
I am so glad to have some decent beer around here and not have to drive to Beachwood, Najas, or Tonys.
02-27-2011 17:06:45 |
More by josh80
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$$
First, the place is great. Some serious money went in to putting it together, and it shows. The whole Catholic theme is fun (save the poor waitresses, who look pretty miserable in their ill-fitting school girl uniforms), and I dig the stained glass and dark wood.
Food's good, and a good value, especially during happy hour. I've liked everything I've tried. Nothing to write home about, but above average bar food for sure.
The beer selection is... good. They've got a load of taps. The problem is that I rarely find anything I'm particularly excited about... but I can usually decide on something I'm happy with. (Interesting wine list, too.)
Obviously the owners have put in lots of thought and money into the place. Why they decided not to hire anyone who knew the first thing about beer is beyond me. I went about a week after opening and the bartender - super nice and I totally liked him - admitted that he was new to beer. Problem is that I've been back several times and nobody has seemed to learn anything since. I asked the girl at the register if the cider they had on tap was dry and she looked at me with a face that said, "Uh, it's wet?" written all over it. Sigh.
Honestly, I think it's a management problem. I was served a Gordon's red in a 12oz tulip (?) with a four finger head (!!)... and paid (iirc) $6 for it. That's not ok. I actually tried to send it back but the bartender said, rudely, "It's not supposed to be filled all the way to the top." Yeah, thanks. The pours are embarrassing - and what's worse, it seems that they've turned down the CO2 to make it easier, so all the beers are a little bit flat.
It also looks like the employees are confused by HOW they are supposed to serve customers... There's an order-at-the-register plus half-table-service system going that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to the employees OR the customers.
Rumor has it they don't cold-store their kegs - boy, I hope this is not true. I also vaguely remember hearing that they sat on a keg of Sculpin for a few months. Again, I hope I'm wrong - and I certainly could be.... But I just can't put it past them, either.
I really, really, REALLY want to love this place. I just don't. I keep going back in hopes of changing my mind, but so far, it's not happening.
Edit: I see a previous reviewer chatted with a girl who knew her stuff. Girl, I want to talk to you next time I'm in! Seriously!
Edit: After posting my review, I got a very nice email from Travis @ Congregation responding to it. I really appreciate his professionalism and while I still feel my scores are accurate, I want to add what he had to say in response.
He says that they have been trying to figure out the best way to provide service, and as it is a new place I totally understand that it's something that takes time to work the kinks out. Looking forward to them figuring out the system that works for them.
He admitted having trouble with short pours, and said he has been working with his staff to improve them (as well as working to educate his staff about beer, which is awesome). Last time I went I did get proper pours, so this seems to be true - and much appreciated. He also says they have not turned down their CO2 levels at all, but my Strand 24th St. Pale was rather flat last week.
He told me that their keg turnover is fast and since they've only been around a few months, how could they keep kegs around? He also did not address cold-storing kegs - and a friend of mine said when he asked at the bar they told him point blank they barely have enough room to keep the kegs on tap cold. Well, as long as the fresh hop-bombs go straight on tap, I won't complain...
01-24-2011 01:40:08 |
More by lisomiso
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
First thing I noticed: a large tap list with a number of beers I wanted to try. Some run of the mill imports (Palm), but then a good number of places I'd never heard of and some special releases from places I had.
The prices seemed steep on the beer and on the food - $7 for a burger without any sides, $6 for an 8 ounce of something I feel would go for $5 for 12 oz elsewhere.
It was very busy at 8pm on a Friday - had to lurk for about 10 minutes to find a table for 3.
Service was spotty - as others note, you make your first order at the cash register, then wait for beers there. The guy at the register wasn't very outgoing. Servers float around to take more orders, but we couldn't order at the table at one point since the portable device was recharging. I ordered a beer at one point and another server forgot about it. I feel like they're working out the kinks still.
My turkey burger was good - great bun. Side wasn't anything special, but happy it was an option.
All in all, when in Long Beach I'll be back due to the selection.
01-08-2011 19:01:46 |
More by mlaroche
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
I read about this place on BA, and since I live 10 min away, thought I would try out happy hour. We arrived at about 4:30pm on a Tuesday.
What a wonderful little beer bar. Lots of heavy dark wood, some stained glass, and Belgium beer posters on the wall. Nice outdoor seating, but it was too cold yesterday to sit outside.
I went up to the cash register to order, and open a tab. Started off with an Alaskan Smoked Porter for me, and a Paulaner Hefeweizen for my wife.
No trouble finding a table at this time of day, but within an hour the place was packed. Service was great, and food was very good. I had the chicken parmesan sausage (served in flat bread) and the misses had the rib-eye burger, with a side of frys.
Both the Alaskan Porter, and the Pualaner were very good out of the Tap. I went for a Stone Self-Righteous Ale next, and was not disappointed.
Had a Deschutres Mirror Pond Pale Ale, that seemed a little flat. Perhaps I should not have followed the previous beers with this one. Also had a Spaten Pils (on sale $3/pint). It was very good.
Overall, a great time. Can't beat the happy hour prices, we got out for $35, plus the tip.
I will definitely go back!
12-29-2010 13:54:10 |
More by fsimcox
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | $$$
10/9/10' Wife n' I check it out. Parked off of Atlantic & 5th st and took the Free Passport buses over to Pine and Broadway. Take the C bus. A great way to save on the hassle of finding and paying for parking.
Decent atmosphere. (visited @ 3PM -probably better in the evening) A gothic, catholic church vibe. Wrought iron circular antique-ish hanging lamps and some of the seating woodwork ala a church pew. Hefty distress wood table and wrought iron chairs decently padded. The Waitresses were wearing the plaid schoogirl skirts with white button up shirts. O.k. I guess.
A great selection of bottled and on tap beers. About 20 on tap and at least 100+ in the bottle. Plenty to keep your interest.
Yes, you place your initial order at the register. But, if you start a tab the waitresses will take care of you from there on. Not a bad idea to order a few beers then sit and decide on what you'd like to order from the food menu and then place an order with your waitress.
Did not try the food, But, will do so on my next visit. And I will be back!!!!
Beer is definitely in the pricey range. But you can't beat the selection offered in this part of town!
10-11-2010 19:30:51 |
More by fourplayed
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Congregation Ale House in Long Beach, CA