I really don’t mean to sound cheeky – I did live for five years in the belly of the beast (Main South) and visit often – but there is a problem with downtown Worcester – it lacks vitality. Though events happen often at the DCU Center, Mechanics Hall and the Hanover Theater, Downtown remains just a bit forlorn, lacking vibrancy. Enter Armsby Abbey. Established several years ago, this beer hall adds a bit of hip excitement to the Worcester scene. Renowned for an ever- rotating selection of craft beers on tap and a deep cellar of bottled brews, the Abbey is more than just a college hang. After being on my go-to list for years, I finally put in an appearance at the joint. I wasn’t disappointed. The beer choices can seem overwhelming at first; plus the excellent – and extensive – menu of craft cocktails results in near overload. Food here complements the libations – the “Farmhouse” menu focuses on cheese, house-made charcuterie, salads, sandwiches and pizza. (There is no burger option.) Interesting items include roasted marrow bones, carrot and bacon pizza and pork belly banh mi. Local and house-made are the watchwords. Excellent breads are made by the in-house bakery “Crust”. The menu, though not extensive, shows creative touches that would seem more appropriate to Boston. I began my evening with the Signature Manhattan – Michter’s Rye with Meletti Amaro, Vya Sweet Vermouth, Binaco’s Better Vanilla Bitters and a torched orange peel. Outstanding! and reasonably priced at $10. I next had the well-made and delicious Hudson Red, a raw cow’s milk washed rind “stinker” from Twin Maple Farm in Ghent NY. Since it was Earth Day, the bar was featuring a special menu benefitting the Chef’s Collaborative. I chose the featured entree – lamb ragu with tagliatelle. The suggested pairing was Pretty Things X Ale 1945, the newest release in their “Once Upon a Time” historical beer recreations. The pasta was excellent and should be on the regular menu. The brew, an English Dark Mild Ale, paired well with the dish. Perhaps it had been a busy day but the one problem we encountered was that several items were 86’d. Hopefully this isn’t common practice. Armsby Abbey merits a visit – and since brunch is served here – provides a nice Sunday destination. (And then visit WAM, the Worcester Art Museum, best small museum in New England.) More info, menus and directions here.