Novare Res Bier Café

Not Rated.
Novare Res Bier CaféNovare Res Bier Café
BA SCORE
99
world-class

213 Ratings
Ratings: 213
Reviews: 126
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: n/a
Taps: 26
Bottles: 250
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

4 Canal Plz
Portland, Maine, 04101-4034
United States
phone: (207) 761-2437

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @novareresbiercf

Notes:
Place added by: indiapaleale on 05-28-2008

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Ratings: 213 | Reviews: 126
Reviews by busterthecat:
Photo of busterthecat
4.5/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Saw the reviews and had to check this place out while on an overnight trip to Portland. We (GF & I) walked in about 8:45pm and the place was lively. We didn't have to wait much to get some seats at the bar. They offer the traditional long bench/table seating which is great if you have a large party and for inviting conversation.
After browsing the solid tap list, we ordered up a victoria & a victor from Allagash after going there earlier that day and wanting to try these side-by-side. The prices I thought were quite fair, average of $6.5 for solid offerings. They had an extensive bottle list that was awesome to read through and dream about. The atmosphere was great, lively but not to loud so you couldn't have a convo. Lots of interesting bottles and items crated the decor. The old brick walls and lighting gave the impression of being in an old world cellar and really contributed to the great feel. The staff was attentive, friendly, and offered up suggestions and insight in to where to go for a late dinner. They also have a rear room for darts and hanging out with friends, also a great outdoor deck.
I would totally check this place out if in the portland area or if wanting a belgian themed place to break up all the american/ irish bars in the area. Will go again next time in portland.

More User Reviews:
Photo of 52mgtd
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Ok, so you don't go there for the food, you go there for the beer! A fantastic list of on tap and even better bottles, ask any chalice owner, what a great place to enjoy great beer and meet interesting people, chalice #71

Photo of Sludgeman
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Visited on Tuesday evening. The two of us sat at one of the big multi-party tables. The place was slow.

V - Dark, not well lit, dank, but clean and open and definitely a beer bar vibe. I wouldn't call this a "dive bar" because it is not dirty or inhabited by undesirable folks. 4.5

Q - All beer served in proper and clean glassware. Beer seemed to be at correct temperature. Some might complain that beer is served in glassware not of its own branding, but not an issue for me. 4.5

Ser - Our server Jamison (yeah that's right) was fantastic. Very good in helping my friend pick a beer she would like. He was even ready to send us to a different place so we could find the food we looking for. 5

Sel - Fantastic bottle selection and a very good tap list the night we were there. Had a De Strusie XXX Rye Triple and a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Oro De Calabaza 4.5

F - Did not eat food during this visit.

Photo of vonnegut21
3.47/5  rDev -22.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 2 | selection: 4

An old school dive of a craft beer bar. Solid selection, but underwhelming considering their reputation. There are certainly better taplists in Portland. Service was poor. I get that it was busy, but the bartenders (particularly the one with the man-bun) were more concerned with serving their friends than helping a new customer.

In summary, Novare Res was fine, but it hasn't adapted over time and has been surpassed by some of the other up and coming craft beer bars in Portland.

Photo of Faxmesomehalibut
4.65/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

By far my favorite place in Portland (that IS saying something!). Amazing draft list, even more amazing bottle list. They thrown amazing events and have special tappings constantly. The staff are insanely knowledgeable and can always assist with making top notch selections from their ridiculous Belgian offerings. Cannot say enough good things about Novare.

Photo of E190DRVR
4.95/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Love this place! Amazing beer selection and friendly knowledgeable bar tenders. Great vibe and very good food. You won't be disappointed!

Photo of tjmackie
4.95/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Fantastic. Cantillon Gueze tapped at 11:30 on NYE!

Photo of atimari
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Love this place. My go to stop for beer in portland

Photo of kevdemers
4.76/5  rDev +5.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Flat out best "beer bar" food I have ever had! Must stop while in Portland, wish I had visited here sooner. And my family members who are not beer fans couldn't stop raving about the food, so I would not hesitate to bring anyone here.

Photo of MtnSoup
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Novare Res is one of the best beers I've ever visited. Their tap and bottle lists are insane, and the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. We visited three times in four days, and each time found a new draft list with beers we'd been searching for everywhere.

Can be tough to find since it's in a back alley, but it only adds to the ambience. They also have a great outdoor terrace for the warmer months.

Highly recommend making it here if in Portland, ME.

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.5/5  rDev 0%

Amazing list of rotating taps with events every month or two. Even better is the bottle selection, with multiple vintages of hard to find beer including Cantillon and other European brews. A must-visit.

Photo of Jimmyknows
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

Great selection!

Photo of hudsonheat
4.5/5  rDev 0%

You don't come here for the food, and that's okay, mostly small plates. Their tap list is always interesting, very Belgian leaning. Their bottle list, especially their rare stuff, is what excites me. Always something interesting and new to try!

Photo of KornWallace
4.75/5  rDev +5.6%

While a little difficult to find using GPS, once you get to Novare Res you're going to be their a while.

They have the nicest bottle list I saw on my trip to Maine and a fantastic tap selection as well. The food is also fantastic, the cheese plate was my personal favorite but I also had the roast beef sandwich which was worth it.

Our server seemed very knowledgable in the beers and suggested a couple nice beers.

We were seated in the outside area which was very nice I'm always a fan of the communal tables in the summers. The inside area was worth checking out with a large bar and enough seating on the inside.

The pricing seemed a little expensive. But nothing outrageous and in my belief I think it was totally worthwhile.

Photo of millionsuns
4.95/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

When I pass from this life, I won't have to go far to get to Heaven. Novare Res is only about 15 minutes away.

It's tucked in an alley off Exchange Street and the elevation of the place makes you feel like you've walked into the catacombs of a Belgian abbey with the most beautiful beer selection you're likely to see in your lifetime.

These folks are the first to get Cantillon in the state. They get things on draft you never knew existed on draft on this side of the planet. Fou'Foune, anyone? De Struise, Tilquin, De La Senne? Sure!

There's a section of the menu specifically dedicated to rotating Maine drafts - and they're always amazing.

The bottle menu is a laminated spiral binder. There's a page dedicated to lambics. Am I dead yet? Somebody pinch me.

There's a room, under lock and key, inside which are housed huge chalices won by members of the Uprising after consuming beers representing every possible style from all over the world. These people are either wealthy, crazy, brilliant, or all three. The chalices may be used to consume any beer on the draft menu at the regular price. They've earned it.

Their annual tap takeovers are legendary. They're as nice and polite and helpful as can be. They have a classy outdoor deck with Cornhole. They have a back room with a fireplace surrounded by dozens of spent bottles of Lou Pepe and Lord knows what else. They have a daily sushi special, the best banh mi sandwich in Maine, and a killer hot dog. I've discovered more amazing music there than I know what to do with.

No fan of beer should enter the State of Maine without going to Novare Res. There's no excuse not to.

And now it's late and I have to go to bed before I change my mind and drive to Novare for a nightcap.

Photo of BradMacMullin
4.85/5  rDev +7.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

I haven't rated a beer establishment yet, which is strange as I spend 75 percent of my time in them. Just spent a day visiting Portland - great beer town. Even beats the other portland in Oregon. Found this bar on BA and agree with all the recommendations. Such a diverse list of beer and the atmosphere in there is great. Wait staff was very helpful. They recommended that I take it easy with the barley wines which was excellent advice - although I ignored it and now surprisingly my wife is telling me I ruined dinner at Street Co which I dispute since I don't recall dinner. Two solid thumbs up for Novares Res

Photo of shahn
4.74/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Off the beaten path. My first time in Maine - I could safely say: I'd be a regular there if I moved to Maine! Excellent selection of beers. Service was great: knowledgable & friendly staff. Atmosphere: because you feel like you're in a cellar, one could stay way too long! Loved it!

Photo of Twobeards
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Regular visitor to novare, love this place. Kinda hidden off exchange street, a definite European feel with the beer garden and wood tables. Always an awesome draft list and a great way to educate people or friends to beers. Can always find a beer that fits a persons palate. Service can be a bit spotty, depending on the bartender, but that really has to do more with individual personalities than anything else.

Photo of jjboesen
4.69/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Off hectic Exchange Street, through an iron gate beneath a Key Bank sign, and comfortably hidden away from the tourists and bustle of the Old Port, in a quiet courtyard-parking lot, the ardent beer lover will find himself (or herself) here at this paean to the Belgian café. It is a must when in town.

Upon entering the dim and intimate brick-wood interior, there are two choices: turn left into a separate lounge area furnished with black comfy chairs; or remain in the bar area with several communal tables and two bars: a moderately-sized one that dominates the room, or the very small one at the far right (adjacent to the kitchen). All of this surrounded by beer paraphernalia galore. Think of it as being in the basement of the Beer God.

My visit occurred during the recent Portland Beer Week and on tap (7 drafts) was one of the city’s newer brewers, Rising Tide. Of course, Novare Res, which is Latin for “Start a Revolution,” specializes in area crafts, so there were many other locals available to quench; such as four taps from Sebago, seven from Allagash and several from Maine’s Marshall Wharf. This being a Belgian café, they also had about ten draft Belgians and a massive spiral-bound list of international bottles.

The menu was eclectic but limited. My chicken curry wrap was tasty. The service excelled in every way with the attentive servers being efficient and well versed in beer, and the crafts poured at the correct temperature in the appropriate glassware. Novare Res is family-owned, so this must be one reason.

This place is simply one great place to hang out, quaff superb beers and to experience a seriously pleasant evening. No wonder Beer Advocate rates it as World Class. Start the revolution without me; I’ll be at Novare Res!

Photo of Kirk_Grant
4.16/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.5

I think it's going to be difficult to find a place in New England that's doing a better job with Beer lists than Novare Res. They have amazing selections, Cantillon is almost always available, and there's a list long enough to put some wine bars to shame.

The food is good, but there's something missing and I don't quite know how to put my finger on it. I've ordered food from them 3-5 times in the last year. Every time the foods been good, but not something I feel compelled to order again. So I'm happt to be eating, but I'm not thinking, "I need to go back there for the ___."

Service is hit or miss. Some of the servers appear to favor favorite/regular customers. I've had to ask for my bill or stop them for another drink most times. Increased tipping doesn't appear to impact the quality or frequency of attention/service here.

Photo of LittleDon
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

Come here on a beautiful summer day and you'll be tempted to stay until the fall.

Maybe it was the weather. A beautiful summer night in the mid 70s and I got to sit under the trees and drink great beer with a few colleagues. Plenty to choose from each with an ample description on the menu. While the draft selection was large, but not gigantic, there were many styles available. Everything was top notch. While it was hard to rate the service, since the beer server was quickly there and gone, it was, if anything, attentive. Unfortunately, after three beers, it was time to go. As nice as it was outside, the brief glimpse I got of the inside made me think that this was about as perfect as it could get. Cool, basement pub like atmosphere that was open and large. I was sad to leave, knowing that it was unlikely I'd be back on a regular basis.

One of the best beer serving establishments I've ever been to.

Photo of rjp217
4.59/5  rDev +2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

You gotta love this place. An absolute beer mecca. Pages upon pages of craft beers, both aged and hard to find specialties. Their taplist is always outstanding. I've been on a normal weekeday and found a great selection and was there on a busy Saturday night for their Dogfish Head tap takeover. They always seem to have something special behind the bar as well, just ask nicely and try and be informed. I've tried many new brews based on the bartenders recommendation and have rarely been disappointed. A great selection of Maine Beer Co, not surprising since they're so close. This is the place to come and drink. No TVs and a really cool outdoor patio that's perfect in the summer. I like having the option of each locale. I've only ever ordered a cheese and meat spread and it was terrific so I can't go too in depth on their food but if that was any preview, it's really good. Prices are fair for sure, especially when you consider their selection. This is my favorite spot in Portland for craft beer.

Photo of dancaplette
4.03/5  rDev -10.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Went there Sunday afternoon, great selection, heavy on Belgium selections. I tried something from Marshall Wharf from Maine. They have a good selection on draft from Maine. I sat down at a table with my two kids, took the bartender over 10 minutes to even come over to our table, another couple had the same problem.

We ordered some food, he forgot out appetizer. Menu is not very extensive, but it was good. They have a nice outside area with tables.

Overall the beer selection is fantastic, I just loved the vibe of the place. It was a little of a beer geeky crowd, but I think that just made the atmosphere better.

If our server would have had a more welcoming tone , it would have capped off a great day in Maine. I will definitely come back, the selection and vibe is just to good to let it be ruined by one bad server.

Photo of GeezLynn
4.16/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Had a difficult time finding this place, but after stopping a few locals, we found the enterance (which is almost like heading down a back alleyway).

Anyway, on the Saturday night we stopped there, the place had a pretty lively atmosphere. Outside, there were plenty of tables and lots of room - great for enjoying the weather and for larger groups. The inside was a smallish, dim bar/cafe like setting and was very crowded. It took probably 20 minutes to get a beer, particularly since the bartenders seemed to prioritize chatting/servicing their friends. After chatting awhile with another patron, I was served and the bartender seemed to be pretty knowledgeable on their lineup. The taplist had plenty to get excited about - I think I had beers from Pretty Things and Cisco - and the bottle list was also very good. My beer came in proper glassware and I got the impression that it was definitely a beer-centric place.

As a whole, I enjoyed my stop at Novare and would consider it one of the better beer bars in Portland.

Photo of supercodes
4.26/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 5 | food: 3

I have been a regular of Novare Res since the place opened. It is a beer nerd's paradise for multiple reasons. It is tucked away from the beaten path, it has a communal environment where it's very easy to start up conversations with other patrons, all the servers and the owner Erik are very knowledgeable about the beers on tap, as well as the large bottled selection, and the tap selection itself changes very regularly. The most important aspect of Novare Res though, is how community driven the establishment is. Tap takeovers are very common, ranging from annual events like Smuttfest (Smuttynose takeover), to more relaxed brewery introductions from the likes of Pretty Things, etc. The service is sometimes questionable, and the food is over priced and limited, but these are minor setbacks for the overall experience.

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Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
99 out of 100 based on 213 ratings.