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Novare Res Bier Café

Not Rated.
Novare Res Bier CaféNovare Res Bier Café

188 Ratings
Ratings: 188
Reviews: 118
rAvg: 4.49
pDev: n/a
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

None, yet.

(Place added by: indiapaleale on 05-28-2008)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 188 | Reviews: 118 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bishopdc0
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

This place is in the middle of a a set of building in the Old Port, Portland's downtown. It is behind some buildings in a basement. This set the stage for one of the best bar I've ever been to. As you walk in it has brick pillars and long wooden tables. The best spot in this place is the fireplace room with the leather coach. I've had many excellent beers at this place. They update their beer list nightly with generally 25 beers on draught with hundreds of specialties in bottle. The selection in draught is amazing, changing frequently, in a week i was able to have all three saison du buffs.

Photo of Chincino
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I went to this place with a friend who had heard of its good reputation. The visit to Novare Res was in September 2010. We went here after making a brief stop at Gritty McDuff's first. i was immediately impressed with the atmosphere of this place and it reminded me of biergartens I's visited in Europe, particularly of a place I visited in the Bavarian part of Germany.

As far as food was concerned, I believe we had a cheese sampler plate which was good.

The beer we had was a Cantillon Lou Pepe 2006 which was amazing. I plan on visiting the Cantillon brewery in Belgium in the spring.

Overall, it was a great experience at Novare Res and I would definitely recommend it. I hope to go back again someday soon.

Photo of milliontruths
4.2/5  rDev -6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Novare is my default bar for the Old Port. I enjoy it because it isn't a dive, and as a young woman you can go in there alone and not feel uncomfortable. It is also nice because you actually have a conversation and hang out with your friends without shouting at each other, though on the busier weekends it can get a bit loud. In the summer I love it because--strangely for Portland--it is one of the few places that has a large deck where you can enjoy your beer and the summer weather. I love their selection, and they rotate it regularly. I tend to go for whatever is on tap, but they have an amazing bottle selection. The food is really good, and reasonably priced, and they try to feature as much local and organic food as possible.

Service is where they suffer. A few of the bartenders are really great, and I've gotten to know them since I go there fairly regularly. Russ, Jeff, and Sharif know their stuff. Its weird, but I'm not so much impressed with the female waitstaff or bartenders. Especially the waitstaff, they are not particularly attentive, especially when it comes to deck service, which is why I tend to go into bar to get my beer when on the deck, instead of ordering from the waitstaff. Granted, it can get very busy and loud, but I've felt pretty darn neglected by the female waitstaff when on the deck. As other reviewers have said, it can be very hit or miss, and sometimes you feel that some of the staff suffer from a bit of froideur.

Photo of sccala
4.66/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Heard from some BA's that this is the must visit place in Portland. Maybe it was because of the anticipation of visting this place, but upon walking in I got the same feeling you get when you see the field at a baseball stadium for the first time. I loved it. I went a bit earlier in the day, so I didn't get to see it in full force, but I imagine this place gets very fun at night. The selection of beer is GREAT! The prices are right in line of what you'd expect. My guess is that 99% of beer drinkers will be able to find something they haven't either had or heard of. The beer memorabilia is fun and interesting. Every beer is served in appropriate glassware with appropriate brand labelling...I thought that was very impressive. I love that there is only a simple food menu, including the meat and cheese plates which looked incredibly good as they were being served to the other patrons...however, I had just had lunch before I got there and wasn't hungry enough to muscle down more food just to say that I experienced it. They do have wine and spirits too, but I can't imagine they sell very much of it. If you are gonna be in Portland, you GOTTA go here, and even if you are going to be driving through...pit stop!

Photo of Kinsman
4.24/5  rDev -5.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This was the second place I went to yesterday while Jason and Todd were in town brewing with Allagash. We were joined by fellow BA "cjbmcdon" Rob and Jason from Allagash and the owner of Novare.

The atmosphere was enjoyable, and the location within the Old Port being a bonus too. It's off the main drag but still easy to get to, and once there it has a cool feel inside the basement of an old bank.

The tap selection was decent, having a good mix of Belgian and American, but the bottle selection is where they really shine. There seemed to be a lot of stuff unique to Novare and not found anywhere else in Maine. My Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere on tap was delicious, and a great chance to try a new-to-me brewery. The De Ranke Saison de Dottignies was also a great beer to have on a hot summer evening.

We didn't have much for food, instead just sampling various cheeses and meats on some fresh bread. It's hard for me to judge the value since I didn't pick up the tab, but from what I remember seeing listed, prices seemed reasonable. Overall a great place to visit, and is a must for anyone visiting Portland for the first time.

Photo of juzy
4.33/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Finally got ourselves back East to visit family and for a class reunion of sorts. Thankfully we had time to visit this place while we were hanging out around our old stomping grounds.

Found it easily enough, the directions that are on the website were spot on.

Hot day...inside was cooler, but the hall to the bathrooms was absolutely a furnace! None of that distracts from why we are there though.

Beer selection fantastic. We run into another beer enthusiast and drink and chat with him for most of the afternoon.

Beer selection was wonderful for people who don't live on the East coast anymore. Lots of local selections and plenty of imported as well.

Food menu looked interesting, small but very interesting. Had the best pork pate that I've ever had! So good we ordered a second order of it!

Staff was awesome. Friendly and knowledgeable. There is an outside beer garden, would've been a better choice on this hot summer day in late July, but we wanted to be close to the taps and have an opportunity to chat with whomever happened to be at the bar.

Nice place. Makes me wish we still lived in Portland ;-)

Photo of FLBeerGuy
4.36/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

A little hard to find for an out of towner, if not for the help from the lady at the visitors, I'm not sure I would have found this place. It's situated in the middle of a plaza that is not visible from any of the surrounding streets. Surrounded by buildings and trees the bier garden is an oasis in the middle of the touristy downtown.

Seating is a lot of picnic table both inside and outside. There are some couches inside in one of the back rooms.

Tap list is first rate, no taps are wasted on macros, I like that. Two beer engines that were not running on the Friday night I was there. Incredible bottle list to boot. Tap list is focused on Belgian and German styles with a good representation of American styles as well. Smuttynose, Allagash, Jolly Pumpkin, Southern Tier, Stone, Victory, Unibroue and North Coast were some of the brewers represented.

One big plus was the wife was able to find something she liked on the wine list. Not many good beer bars have wine that is worth drinking. This is a big plus if you are like me and the wife is not a beer drinker, but a wine drinker, allows us to stay longer and drink more good beer.

The good menu is limited, mostly sandwiches, did not try any.

Great beer selection in a nice setting, this place is not to be missed if you are in Portland.

Photo of BeerNinja007
5/5  rDev +11.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Stumbled upon Novare Res while wandering around Portland on June 26th 2010 and had to check it out. It turned out to be the highlight of my trip.

I was there mid-afternoon and there were just a handful of other customers, maybe 10 inside at the main bar and 6 or so outside on the patio. When I left a few hours later it was starting to fill up as dinnertime was approaching. Atmosphere is very chill, somewhat swanky, old-world style. Lots of brick, wood, a low tin ceiling, cool feeling like an airy beer cellar. Chill groovin' music playing at low volume.

I counted 24 taps and 1 cask, plus a ginormous assortment of bottles available to order. A heavy focus on belgians, maybe half the taps, with german and US brews making up the rest. All of them were primo quality lesser-known brews. Even with me being something of a learned beer snob, there were several breweries I hadn't heard of and I'd previously sampled only 3 or 4 of the brews on tap. Somebody there has spent a lot of time and effort to bring choice European beers to Portland that aren't well-known in the states. Beers on tap ranged from approx $4-10, were served in ideal glassware, and good attention was paid to pouring technique. Excellent presentation.

THERE WAS NO TOKEN MACRO BREW AVAILABLE. Novare Res is a shrine to good beer and I'm glad they've taken the purist stance to avoid contaminating it with sub-par brew. Awesome.

I had a turkey panini for $7 and it was excellent. The menu is small, limited to cheeses, a few appetizers, sandwiches, etc. The food is an accompaniment to the beer (rather than vice versa) and it serves that purpose well.

The staff and service were friendly and attentive, low-key and not overbearing. I took a table by myself where I could focus on the beer and take some notes. The waitress came over only when my glass was nearing empty. I asked for a glass of water and it came in a plain pint glass. I found this highly appropriate and amusing because every beer I ordered came in appropriate glassware with the brewer's logo on it. The water? It's just water, no logo. (Maybe it's one of those things where you'd just have to have been there at the time.)

Photo of mmonagh1
4.83/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Novare Res makes me glad I live in Portland. It is a great place to go for beers and some light food after work, on a weekend day or before a nice meal at one of Portland's many great restaurants. Also, don't know why, but this bar is a great place to hang out when it is pouring rain or snowing heavy outside. Great space. Unique. Much brick and stone but warm feeling. Basement feel but with windows along one wall to an old New England brick landscape.

Awesome beer selection. Good food too - lighter plates that compliment, without overwhelming, the beer. It is about the beer. Owned by a nice, friendly, young family. A comfortable place for all.

The staff will help you find the perfect beer for you. The beer selection has more of a European focus than most places, but they always have some good American ales like Rogue and Dogfish Head as standbys.

Photo of blackie
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Second stop on a whirlwind beer tour of Portland while en-route south to Old Virginny. After a short cab ride with the most depressing cab driver ever, we were dropped off outside the wrought iron fence that leads into Canal Plaza and Novare Res.

First visible is the raised wooden patio that serves as a beer garden, it's a large spot with lots of picnic style tables and a view of the uncrowded plaza.

A step or two down are required to enter the bar proper - or maybe not at all, but the place has that below ground feel. It's a very clean and moody basement area with brick walls and pillars, stone floors, beer signage, and lots of wood; well appointed and feeling both aged and fresh at once. Seating space is in the form of communal tables, a nice sized bar, and an almost cellarlike side room with couches and a couple dart boards. The crowd during both visits was mostly young and casual, a very lively and comfortable space.

The draft selection was certainly top-tier if not of the world-class variety, with lots from the Smuttynose big beer series as well as a couple of their short batches - not sure if they'd just hosted a smutty event or what. A couple more immediate locals, a small selection of Belgians and otherwise foreign drafts, and a few good but widespread American micros to round things out, again solid but not particularly wowing. Over our couple visits I chose the great BFM Douze, the Marshall Wharf Deep Purple smoked beer, and Smuttynose Gnome Belgian ipa. The bottle list was pretty exhaustive, and included a section for "beer geeks & connoisseurs" as well in addition to a few special cellar selections. Current lists on the website. I'd say a 4.0 for the drafts on this particular day, and a 4.5 or higher for the bottle list, rounding up the average for my score here. Wish the shirt selection had been better - pretty great design but totally out of my size.

Service was good overall, with one gent in particular that seemed very much on top of things. The other bartenders were just fine and certainly helpful if not to the point of extra comment.

Food is basically limited to sandwiches, salads, cheese/charcuterie plates, and desserts. Everything looked great and I wish we'd gone here for a light dinner. We did make it back later in the night for dessert - "House-made Fin Du Monde Ice cream served atop Rosemont bakery blondie drizzled with caramel toffee sauce". Great flavors but really nothing to write home about.

Most of the better beers ran from 6-7 dollars a glass. Not your sub 5 dollar pint prices, but very much fair for the value given.

Really like what this bar is doing. It's clear that beer gets much respect here, and I would stop in any time given the chance.

Photo of twelvsies
4.83/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Novare Res, meaning, "to start a revolution". I really like the mission statement of this place, and it's definitely worth reading on the inside of the menu. In a sense, beer is just beer, but, sometimes it can be more, and I like that theory.

This place is off the beaten path, but only slightly. Perfect secluded location off Exchange St, look for the little tent sign on the sidewalk. The entry is at street level but when inside it feels like you are in an old cellar. Except this one is an awesome cellar filled with delicious beer. Handsome bar and nice long Oktoberfest style tables for communal scwhilling and meeting people. Extra lounging room off to the side w/ comfy couches, darts, and art by the staff etc. Also a great deck outside complete w/ service and also the "Bier Barn" featuring cheap draughts and craft beer in cans. They also have a cornhole set that you can use out there if it's not too crowded. Lots of beer signage, schwag, and emptied bottles from all corners of the globe along the walls. At first I was disappointed in the lack of TV for sports but I get their reasoning, and now embrace it. Essentially, this place is well set-up to enable maximum beer drinking pleasure, and the vibe is just great.

Novare clearly pays a bit of extra attention into the quality and execution of beer slinging. Always a nice selection of glassware and it's always very clean, which I really appreciate. Another technique they use is patient pours with the headier Belgian beers. Often I see extra glasses set up behind the taps for the purpose of letting the foam settle, and then blending that back into your pint. Some people are impatient but personally I will gladly wait an extra 3-5 minutes to have a healthy, perfectly poured pint. They really take care in the art of the pour here, I like this. Also, the bartenders have all been really friendly and interesting folks that are up for chatting about beer or anything really, and are always willing to give you a taste or offer a suggestion of something unusual.

As for the beer selection, it's very well put together and is a great representation of lots of different styles and countries. Local flavor is always apparent, often with unique offerings from Allagash, Marshall Wharf, Maine Beer Company, etc. Great selection of Belgian and German beers both on draught and bottled. The classics are there as well as lesser known rustic saisons, unfiltered German lagers, and other odd-balls. Good smattering of craft breweries emerging from other parts of the country too, like Denmark, Norway, Spain etc. The best part of the selection is that it varies frequently. This is key. And the website draught page is usually pretty up-to-date. If I had to gripe I would say I'd occasionally like to see a bit more English flavor a la Ridgeway Bitter or something like that. Though they do have great cask selections usually once a week.

Another of my favorite Novare features is their penchant for throwing beer events. It seems like at least once a month they will feature a particular brewery or beer style and make that the theme for a day or even stretch it to a longer period like the recent "Belgian Fest" where all the draughts were Belgian for three weeks. The Allagash-a-ganza was awesome as was their 2nd Anniversary party, and my favorite being a month of rotating Mikkeller Single Hop IPAs on draught available in flights. Such a cool idea to be able drink in a focused theme. You get the idea...

They have a unique approach to the food menu here as well. Don't expect your typical pub-grub (not that there's anything wrong with that!). It is mainly a snacking menu (but you could have a filling dinner here too), featuring a smorgasbord of meats and cheeses at a reasonable $3 a pop. Perfect pairing to beer. Several appetizers, which are all great (that I have tried) and some awesome sandwiches and salads. I like to see stuff made with beer on the menu such as Cantillon pepper jelly. Awesome.

In a nut shell the bar is just an ideal setting to eat drink and be merry. It's the winning combination of an obviously great beer selection with creativity and a real publican ideal. Like the great state of Maine motto, it's "The Way Life Should Be".

Photo of morebeergood
4.03/5  rDev -10.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

We stopped in here on Saturday late afternoon for pre-dinner drinks and snacks. There is a sign on the street that directs you down the alley to the cafe, so that was helpful. Looks like a tucked-away beer garden when you come around the corner. There is an elevated patio where you can sit at tables outside and enjoy the sun. Inside, it's a very cozy and homey bier bar. There are communal large table that encourage sitting with others. The brick walls gave it an old-world look. Tons of beer signs everywhere to keep my eyes wandering. Awesome looking walk-in beer cellar. We were there the day after the 2nd year anniversary, so there were still a lot of those beers on tap. Plus, the huge menu-like book of bottled beers to choose from. We had to wait a while to be served, and once she took our order, two other waitresses came by to take our order again. They need to get their act coordinated. We also noticed other tables that sat for a while without getting served. Also, whenever the waitress came back to us, she seemed very hurried and rushed. We ordered a few beers. I had the BFM Cuveé Alex Le Rouge on cask and the Marshall Wharf Novare Res Anniv. Beer. My wife had the DFH Immort Ale and the Haverill Tappist 8 dubbel. All were good. We also ordered a cheese plate ($3 per selection). Had a trio, with accompaniments, which was delicious. We were just finishing up, when I saw the dessert, and I wish I saw them first. Cantillon truffles? Tripel ice cream? Wow. Prices here were on the high side, but this level of quality is going to cost you. Novare Res really does stand out as the premier destination in Portland, and possibly one of the top in New England. I am glad that we finally got a chance to experience it.

Photo of dtivp
4.72/5  rDev +5.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

If you want to start the beer revolution this is the place to begin. Tucked away in the cellar of a building, actually it was more like the first floor since it was above ground, it was like going into a beer cave. Tremendous atmosphere, nice music and the employees are all very friendly, helpful and know their beer along with the proper glass to serve it. They all are very happy and you can tell truly enjoy what they are doing.
Very nice selection beer and I'd guess slightly over 20 on tap.
Food selection is limited to cheese and meat plates, however, they were nice plates that paired with the beer.
If there is a better bier cafe in the U.S., than this one, please direct me to it, because THe Novare Res Bier Cafe tops my list.

Photo of beeroverwithme
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

The cellar of an old bank made into a pub? It actually works! The place feels like it's been a pub for a century, with a long wooden bar and nice wooden tables. The atmosphere was exceptional - by far the best I experienced in Maine (including Ebenezer's) with a knowledgable staff and an amazingly well-stocked draft line (I counted 24 exceptional taps, incl BrewDog Tokyo, Mikkeller Black Stout, Unibroue Chambly Noir, Smuttynose Wheat Wine, North Coast Old Rasputin) as well as a couple of beers on cask. When I was there (late March 2010) they had BrewDog Paradox Smokehead on cask! All in all, Novare Res is one of the best pubs I've ever been to, a cozy haven for the beer lover.

Photo of Imstillthegman
4.64/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Stopped in here with the wife while hitting some Portland spots during our recent trip to Portsmouth for KTG. This place is a bit hard to find...like many others have noted. Once you find it, though, you'll be rewarded for the effort.

Tucked away like a little cavern, they are located in what could be considered a basement of sorts under a big office building. Down an alley you can see the sign peeking out from the corner of the building. Once inside, you start to relax. Dim lighting...chill music playing...quiet conversations happening. Nice. The selection of beers range from limited, one off locals to craft standards (i.e. - DFH 90 min.) to many, many Belgians and other imports. Flipping through the pages of the beer menu is an interesting journey. They have a page or so of food offerings...mostly cheese and cold meat plates. A bigger menu would set this place off, but that may not be possible due to their location. The staff was super friendly and knew their beer. Our bartender, Shahin (sp.?) was awesome. I appreciate any beer establishment that offers you a glass of water first then the beer menu. Big points for that. He quickly followed that with samples of two one-off brews without us asking. Bonus points!

Great place well worth the trouble of finding. I look forward to my next visit and spending more time here.

Photo of Slatetank
4.63/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I had the pleasure of visiting Novare Res Bier Cafe with friends recently on a trip which included Kate the Great day. We were checking out Portland and this was a place that was recommended. The actual location was not one that was simple to find -we almost walked right by, but the Dogfish head sign in the window tipped me off and we walked in to find a wonderful bier cafe!

the place is below an outdoor patio and seems kind of like the underground bar - we were told the establishment used to be a bank at the end of our visit. I really dug the atmosphere - cool metal and brick w/ wooden bar with light colored finish. the lighting sets the mood which is chill/casual with a modern feel. They have a nice lounge the left as you come inside with art and the place is clean and decorated with bottles of prized ales and lagers that were previously consumed.

The selection is a great mix of German/British/American and..Belgian -Wow the types of Belgian ales that you hope to see on the menue of better beer bars. They had a limite local - Mean old Tom w/ vanilla bean and plenty of unique taps like Cookie Jar Porter from Brooklyn on while we were there.

The Quality was very good, better than I expected and was very, very pleased to the staff for making us feel welcome. The 'tender even took our picture in the 'vault' which was what used to be the vault of the bank- it now serves as beer cooler. The service was really friendly and we couldn't have a better time with so much beer knowledge and genuine passion for craft beer.

I tasted Kristen's Hummus and olives - the pita was very fresh and the Hummus was smooth and tasty. I appreciated the variety on the menu and would love to come back for a meal. The value is good -some prices are a little high, but I would rather pay a little more for quality. I can't really say enough good things about Novare Res -the experience was top-notch in every way -Killer place you won't be dissapointed.

Photo of WanderingFool
4.85/5  rDev +8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

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.

Photo of berley31
4.95/5  rDev +10.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 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.

Photo of gtn80
4.65/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

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.

Photo of spwalshesq
4.34/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

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!

Photo of citrusjim
4.36/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

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.

Photo of jzeilinger
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 2

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.

Photo of rrheisler
4.53/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

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!

Photo of JimmyK77
4.34/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5

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.

Photo of opwog
3.7/5  rDev -17.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

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.

Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
99 out of 100 based on 188 ratings.