Why go: Perhaps you are in Worcester to do research at the American Antiquarian Society. Or perhaps you like a historical downtown completely blasted by urban renewal that it hasn’t recovered from several decades later. Maybe you are making a pilgrimage because the corporate smiley face sign was invented there by a company to raise spirits after it laid off a bunch of employees. Me, I was in Worcester on my way back to Pennsylvania after finding a new place in Rhode Island. Oh hey, did I mention my wife got a spousal hire so my time in Pennsylvania is down to a couple of weeks. Really tearing me up.
The beer: Good, if you like IPAs. Look, I think IPAs are the best beer style. I think they are great. I love the variety of IPAs that have developed over the years. So for me, Wormtown was pretty great. I had two quite tasty, if not Oregon level, IPAs, the Ales for ALS Northeast IPA and the Hopulence Double IPA. But when I was there, something like 7 of the 10 taps were IPAs and the shandy kicked while I was there. And while shandies is not a style I find interesting, if 70% of your taps are IPAs, you may be limiting your customer base. As of today, it’s a little more balanced–the shandy is back, there’s a porter, a dunkel, a pilsner, a pale ale and a quad. So it’s only about half IPAs. Anyway, I liked what I had.
The food: Having just nailed down a very nice apartment but which took more time than we thought on the last day, we were both ravenous and in the mood to celebrate it. Wormtown doesn’t have much in the way of on-site food, although we did get a completely credible pretzel. But you can bring your own food. There’s an Italian place next door and a Korean place around the corner. The Korean place had a take out menu of popular items you could just call in. So we did that. I was able to introduce my wife to the glories of Korean wings (went with the gochujang-based sauce, always a good choice) and we had an order of mandu, which were fine.
Atmosphere: I had never been to the part of Worcester slightly east of the bombed out urban renewal destroyed downtown. Most of the time I’ve stopped in that city, it’s been to go to Armsby Abbey, which is a good but extremely expensive beer bar with some top-rate taps. And that’s downtown. The area to the east has clearly gone through some recent renovations, with a combination of older buildings and newer developments. While I wouldn’t call it Portland or anything, it seemed a pleasant enough neighborhood. The bar itself is fairly small, as many breweries are, making me wonder how crowded it gets the 8 months of the year you don’t want to be outside in Worcester. We sat on the little patio area, which just overlooks a parking lot, but if it’s nice outside, it’s fine. Bartenders were standard brewery hipsters, with a tattoo to untattooed skin ratio of about 1:1.
Overall, Wormtown is absolutely worth your time next time you are in Worcester.