The Bar Menu At Congregation Ale House

Beyond bar snacks at Congregation Ale House

How much holy water does it take to bless a bar?

This isn't the lead-in to a bad joke, but rather a serious question considered by the folks at Long Beach's new Congregation Ale House. And this bar is blessed, by none other than Bernard Lorrent of Belgian brewery-monastery Maredsous Abbey.

We're not going to weigh the concept of Congregation Ale House versus its place in god's eye, but it's off to a fantastic start, the huge crowds sticking around well after the thrill of drinking in a church-decorated bar wears off.

Congregation is a place for dinner as much as it is for drinking, the menu going beyond bar-snack standards. Well-sourced sausages like pork and goat cheese ($8) or duck and bacon ($8) are served not on buns, but inside crusty split baguettes (baked in-house). The duck comes topped with grilled onions, sweet peppers and whole-grain mustard.

A flatbread with thinly sliced potatoes, bacon, Dijon mustard and greens ($7; pictured) could've used a crisper crust, but the smoke of the pork, the tang of the mustard and the slightly browned potato edges make the dish a perfect counterpart to beer.

And the beer selection is impressive: nearly 30 on-tap beers, foreign and domestic alike, from breweries such as Craftsman, Palm and, naturally, Maredsous Abbey.

Congregation Ale House, 201 E. Broadway, Long Beach; 562-432-2337 or