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Novare Res Bier Café

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

172 Ratings
Ratings: 172
Reviews: 115
rAvg: 4.48
pDev: 9.6%
Taps: 26
Bottles: 250
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ 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:
None, yet.

(Place added by: indiapaleale on 05-28-2008)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 172 | Reviews: 115 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WanderingFool
4.85/5  rDev +8.3%

Novare Res is a beer geeks Nirvana. On one page is a long list of the beers available on tap and in a multi-page, style organized book are all the beers available in bottles. The bottle list had beers I've only heard of and never tried such as a German Gose. The tap list included some rare treats like Brooklyn Cookie Jar and Cantillion Gueze. In addition, the beers are served in the proper glassware including the brewers logo.

The bar feels like you're sitting in a basement instead of the first floor of a building. The windows are high and the sills are covered with empty bottles of amazing beers. The bar snakes around the back end while several long tables fill the middle. I'd guess there's seating for about 60 people. There's no TV and the nondescript music doesn't blast out the conversation with your friends.

I was there on a busy Saturday night and got there early enough to get a seat at the bar. The bar tender was attentive when my glass neared empty and was very knowledgeable about the beers they served.

Half way through my night a woman was admitted to the Challis Club. To join you need to drink 230 beers on a special list within a year. Once you're in the club you get a key to the Challis room and served all your beers in one of these larger vessels. I wish I lived closer so I could take up the challenge. It looks like a very exclusive club.

The limited food menu has several sandwiches and appetizers. There is no hot food. My friends and I ordered a couple cheese and meat platters, which were incredible. They take just as much pride in their cheese and cold cut selection as they do in their beers. If you like fancy cheese you won't be disappointed.

Prices are reasonable considering the quality and selection of beers they carry. Most of the beers on tap were around $6 to $8 with some costing more/less. Bottles ranged from $5 to $40. Spending a couple hours here with friends could easily cost you $50, but you'll enjoy spending every one of those dollars.

In summary Novare Res is a world class beer bar with a fantastic selection of beers at reasonable prices. Food is available, but is not the main focus of this bar. The staff is very knowledgeable about what they serve and passionate about beer.

WanderingFool, Mar 08, 2010
Photo of berley31
4.95/5  rDev +10.5%

Made a return trip to Portland and Novare Res last weekend with my wife and brother, and I felt I had to update my review, even though my last one rated it A+ as well.

I just can't emphasize the excellent experiences I've had at this beer bar. Overall, the place is fantastic. This weekend we spent a couple of hours there on Saturday, and then something like 5-6 hours on Sunday. Everything from the selection, quality, atmosphere is near-perfect, if NOT perfect. Great food options as well; I can't imagine eating wings or other deep-fried foods with a beer selection like this, so the sandwiches, meats and cheeses are really the best option.

But, as I mentioned last time, the real stand-out feature of this place is the service. Anytime I've been there, the bartender has really known their stuff about beer, are great for making recommendations, giving samples, etc. Our bartenders this time were Shahin and Michael (I think...?)... great guys, very friendly; made the experience all the better for us.

Ok, I'll stop gushing about the place. But if there was anything that would make me leave Canada for the U.S., it's this place. And the cheaper beer. And the lower taxes. Ok, three things.

berley31, Feb 05, 2010
Photo of gtn80
4.65/5  rDev +3.8%

Novare Res is a standout in a great beer city. By far the best beer bar in Portland, and rivals any beer bar I have been in anywhere.

The atmosphere is great. It's located in a hidden away alley, tucked away from the frat bars just a street away. The bar is located in a basement, with great tin ceilings and picnic tables inside. In the warmer months the huge deck outside is a great spot.

The draft beer selection is constantly rotating and exceptional. It slants towards the continental beers, especially heavy on Germans and Belgians. But there are always American Craft beers on the menu too. The menu changes weekly, and usually they update it on their website so you know going in.

The bottle menu is fun to look over. I haven't gotten anything off of there yet (I can always find a draft I want), lots of rarities.

They almost always have at least one cask going, and the special events are great. They had NERAX (New England Real Ale Exhibition) recently, that was amazing. Dogfish and Brooklyn have been in town recently, and lots of other special events.

Amazing spot, bartenders know their beer, and will give you a sample if you're not sure about committing.

gtn80, Feb 04, 2010
Photo of spwalshesq
4.34/5  rDev -3.1%

My wife and I spent a few days in Portland recently, which is a really great city for beer geeks! Novare Res opened a couple of years ago and may just be one of the best beer bars in the Northeast US.

This place has a great vibe. Low lighting, cellarlike, exposed brick walls. Seating is at long tables like you'd find at a German beer fest, which is conducive to mingling with other like-minded beer enthusiasts.

Our beertender was a great guy named Mike. Very knowledgable. Told him what styles I preferred and he gave several good suggestions. I'm a fan of DIPAs and he suggested a great Belgian called Mikkeller. (130 IBUs with a nice malt backbone!) They have a selection of 300 or so bottles and a couple dozen taps, so there's something for everyone. Varied selection of Belgians.

This place is a must for anyone visiting Portland and looking for some quality brews. You won't be disappointed!

spwalshesq, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of citrusjim
4.36/5  rDev -2.7%

I was in town for a night with reservations at Fore Street. Popped in for a few beers here first. This place is great. The vibe is excellent. A cool and dark basement with communal tables and a large bar. I could use slightly louder music. I'm sure that depends on who is working. The waitress was nice. Obviously, they have a great beer selection with many Belgians and locals. We had some Brugze Zot and Foret off the tap. The food looked great, although we did not eat here. No one else seemed to be eating. They have cheese and sandwiches and simple things. I would love to hit this place for lunch on a nice day. In a town with so many bars, this one really gets it right.

citrusjim, Nov 15, 2009
Photo of jzeilinger
4.35/5  rDev -2.9%

I travel to Portland with some frequency (about 3=4 times/year) and always make a point of visiting this establishment at least once every the trip. The selection is absolutely world class and I love the rustic atmosphere. This is a very cool place if you're looking for a Belgian beer "experience". The beer selection is very extensive and the rotating taps are always interesting. The tap prices tend to be fairly reasonable, and the bottles pricey. However, the people that work here really know their beer which makes up for the price perception - you get what you pay for. I'd rather pay a little more and have people who know what they're pouring. In fact, I thought I was short poured on a Saison that I ordered until the waitress , in a very friendly, helpful, and educated manner, pointed out why it was poured at the level it was served at. She educated me that night and I was very grateful for her knowledge. I walked away trying a few beers I've never had before and got an education in the process, it was a great moment. I would recommend this place to anyone who is in the area visiting, as long as you are a big fan of Belgian beer. If you're a lover of American style beers, this might not be the place for you. They have a limited selection of American beers (compared to the Belgian offerings).

If you're visiting there, ask for Mike or Mary, holy cow, they REALLY know their beers which is incredibly important to me. Both are very knowledgeable and I learned from them. Mike and Mary made my visit very enjoyable, can't wait for the next business trip up here!

Regarding the food menu, one thing I learned very quickly, the food is more Euro and if you're a meat a potatoes guy like me, you'll be VERY dissapointed. The dishes are served cold (that I could see) and there's alot of cheeses and cold meats on the menu. That being considered, I now make this place a regular stop BEFORE or AFTER dinner, never for dinner. Would highly recommend if you're in the area.

jzeilinger, Nov 14, 2009
Photo of rrheisler
4.53/5  rDev +1.1%

Been a number of times. Sat outside, sat inside. Love the basement atmosphere, and the deck. Oh, the deck...awesome.

Excellent selection, breaking it down by region and by style. Not bad prices at all, considering the cost per beer out of a pack, and the fact that you're being served out. Cheese platters are delicious as well.

The only thing holding them back is service. Everything comes in appropriate glassware, etc. It just can be a little slow from time to time. I don't mind personally...forces you to savor!

rrheisler, Oct 28, 2009
Photo of JimmyK77
4.34/5  rDev -3.1%

I love the entrance down an alley in the old port and outdoor seating in a courtyard. This makes for a great open-air, yet away from it all experience. When I was there on a Saturday night, the outdoor area was quiet while the indoor 'basement bar' was crowded with loud music, so there's a scene for everyone. Of course, the reason to go is the beer list. Their 26 taps isn't the most I've seen, but it's a commendable effort and 300+ bottles puts them easily in the top 1% for selection. I always have trouble deciding with such large beer lists, so I also appreciate that they keep their beer lists online and updated with fair regularity. Their selection covers both common and rare styles, breweries, and regions. Prices are higher than average, but more or less average compared to other beer bars with similar selections.

JimmyK77, Oct 27, 2009
Photo of opwog
3.7/5  rDev -17.4%

I had to grab a late dinner when arriving in Portland and saw that NR was rated well on BA and on Yelp. There seemed to be some confusion initially upon arriving of whether the kitchen was open or closed (different hours on the phone while parking, than 5 minutes later after walking in).

The pros: The food was really tasty and the beer selection was good. The prices were also good for both.

The cons (which I mention in hopes that these might change):

1) If the Red Sox are in the playoffs and somebody asks if there is a TV to watch the game in one of the rooms, the reply should not be; "it is all about the beer here." You serve mainly unshaven community college kids in pseudo-vintage t-shirts that they bought at Target. You are not above having a TV set showing the Red Sox game. I have been to half of the top beer bars in the US and all of them have TV sets.

2) If somebody's GF does not want beer and needs a second to look at the wine list (as short as it is), do not leave her for another 15 minutes having to flag wildly to get her order in while the bar is half empty.

3) Loose that "hot chicks and douchebags" soundtrack playing in there. I do not say that as the grumpy old guy, but as somebody equally aware of what far better music is readily available over that guitar-centric BS that reminded me of my worst night having to sit through that dude from Lacuna Coil.

I might be busting balls in this review, but the beer, food and prices are what is right about this place. The rest of this place should be redone from scratch because the crowd that I saw in there are the type who may write you up on Yelp today, but will move on to "farm to table" dining to impress their fake ID dates next year. You need to build a beer bar that will hold interest of the beer community and make members of that community want to come back and spread the word to others. That is far more important in a business model than temporary hipness.

opwog, Oct 09, 2009
Photo of Brez07
4.63/5  rDev +3.3%

I have been going to Novare at least once a week since May. Love this place. Indoor has a basement type feel. Large bar (although 1/3 is typically ignored by the servers unless the place is busy) with 6-7 tables. Outside has a huge deck with tables, and they even recently added a Beer Hut so you can order a few types of beer on draft while outside. It can get pretty crowded Friday and Saturday nights, but during the week it's very relaxed.

25 rotating taps and usually one cask beer. Bottle list is 300+ and listed by category. One great thing I think they do is update their website with what's currently on tap.

The service can be great, but can also be so-so. It really depends on what server you get. I'd say at any given time, roughly half the servers know about the beers and can answer questions/make recommendations.

Update - since my last review, the staff at Novare has changed a bit, in a great way. All the staff I see now (mostly Shahin, Mike and Mary) know their stuff and are very attentive. Food has also been expanded, with a daily soup being offered

Hands down my favorite thing about this bar is their take on the traditional mug club. Called "The Uprising", they have a list of 230 beers and once you finish, you get an chalice engraved with your name and the date you finished. They'll fill this 20oz badboy for the 16oz price (smaller pours priced accordingly). This list has singlehandedly expanded my knowledge of beer - I knew essentially nothing prior to starting it.

The food is OK. I've only tried two of their sandwiches though. The meat and cheese plates seem pretty popular, but I don't know enough about them to comment on the quality of selection.

If you are in the Portland area, you owe it to yourself to visit the place at least once.

Brez07, Oct 07, 2009
Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
99 out of 100 based on 172 ratings.