Sarah Connell joined the front of house staff at Armsby Abbey in 2013.

Look around before dinner service at Armsby Abbey and you’re sure to spot servers sipping from tasting glasses and jotting down careful notes. Observe bartenders sniffing intently at IPA’s and rattling off hop varieties as they try to detect aromas of grapefruit zest or dried flowers or wet grass. The Abbey’s employees study the chalkboard like dedicated students before an exam in hopes of finding you exactly what you came for, or better yet, turning you on to something new.

Multi-Grain “Risotto” with Dunham Saison Rustique from Armsby Abbey on Main Street in Worcester, MA

Multi-Grain “Risotto” with Dunham Saison Rustique from Armsby Abbey on Main Street in Worcester, MA

A suggested pairing appears for every dish on the menu at Armsby Abbey where owners, Alec Lopez and Sherri Sadowski, pride themselves on curating one of the most exclusive draught lists in the world. Menu items are sourced from local farms and as a result, the farmhouse dinner offerings change frequently. This time of year, Armsby Abbey’s menu is rich with the wild delicacies of late spring like ramps and fiddleheads.

Pair the Multi-Grain “Risotto” with Dunham Saison Rustique, a blonde, Belgian-inspired farmhouse ale. The Abbey’s unique take on risotto consists of a blend of spelt and cornmeal from Four Star Farms and Maine Grain oats. Traditionally, saisons were brewed on Belgian farms with the leftover grains, making this pairing a natural marriage of rustic flavors. The tangy, herbaceous characteristics of this beer stand up nicely to the ramps, thinly sliced radishes, pickled onions and tightly spiraled fiddleheads that populate this perfect spring risotto.

Next, order the Fried Fish Sandwich and Hill Farmstead Mary. The fish itself is beer battered with Hill Farmstead and served with a spicy tartar sauce and root vegetable slaw on an ale roll from Crust Bakeshop. It is said that the secret to Hill Farmstead’s elegant pilsner, Mary, is the well water at Shaun Hill’s family farm in Greensboro, Vermont. One clean and refreshing sip of Mary balances the richness of the fried fish sandwich like none other and boldly assures us that summer is on its way.

Armsby Abbey is located on 144 Main Street in Worcester. Inquire about reservations for parties of six or more by calling (508)795-1012.

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