Bar Review of The Moan and Dove in Amherst, MA
I found The Moan and Dove about 5 years ago on Easter Sunday. I had decided I was fed up with Easter as a rule, and wanted to do something that made me look forward to this holiday each year, rather than be annoyed by another lackluster family get-together or half-hearted egg hunt, so naturally I turned to beer. I had the brilliant idea of doing an “Easter Pub crawl” with my wife and a few friends. It would be a great opportunity to try some new breweries and beer bars that are out of our local sphere. For the first Easter pub crawl we decided to head to Western Massachusetts, with our first stop being The Moan and Dove.
As it turns out, putting together an Easter pub crawl can be tough, as a lot of bars are closed, and ideally you’d like all the places you’re going to be in close proximity to one another. We chose The Moan and Dove as our first stop because they don’t serve food. We figured we could grab a couple beers there and then head over to our second place which did have food, so we could eat dinner. However, The Moan and Dove had other ideas.
The location is quite pedestrian, in a little strip plaza next to a gas station on the outskirts of town. Appearances can be deceiving. Once you step inside you are transported to cozy slice of beer heaven. The Moan and Dove is dimly lit (in the right kind of way), with concrete floors, old wood booths and a decent length bar, but I doubt the whole place could hold more than 40-50 people comfortably. There is some eccentric wall décor that lets you know that this place isn’t generic, and has the faint vibe of a hipsters paradise. The beer selection (23 draughts) is displayed on a large chalkboard over the bar, along with some featured bottles and upcoming beers. They have draughts from local breweries right down the street (High Horse Brewing in Amherst, MA) as well as beers from around the world (Petrus Aged Pale from Belgium). The overall bottle list is quite extensive as well, and not to be overlooked. The bartenders have a tremendous knowledge of all the beers currently being offered, and can explain the subtleties of each. If you need guidance choosing a beer that you’re not familiar with, you’re in the right place.
The nice thing about this bar is that halfway through your first beer, you already feel like a regular, as this is a “neighborhood” bar, with a lot of locals and even their dogs (yes, dogs are welcome since they do not serve food). This bar is BYOF, so feel free to bring whatever food you’re in the mood for or order it from a nearby restaurant. There is no pretension here, just people enjoying good beer and each other’s company. Patrons at one table are playing a board game, while folks at another table debate the finer points of cinema and a third table can be overheard critiquing different beers (that might have been my table, actually). What I’m trying to say is that The Moan and Dove sucks you in, and when it was time to head off to the next bar, we all looked at each other and decided to stay a while longer, eventually cutting the next bar out of our pub crawl altogether. Now, 5 years later, The Moan and Dove is the only bar we go to every Easter, which makes for an Easter that is always worth looking forward to.