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Novare Res Bier Café

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

199 Ratings
Ratings: 199
Reviews: 122
rAvg: 4.5
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

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

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Ratings: 199 | Reviews: 122
Photo of ChrisPro
4.13/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Awesome atmosphere. Decent music playing as you sit around beer hall style tables or outside on the patio. Couple of dart boards to go with cool brick walls and an impressive bottle collection. Went on a Wednesday night, so the crowd was great. Service was fantastic as we got our menus and orders in quickly. Funny guy who liked to talk, but didn't bother us too much.

The selection is incredible for a U.S. beer bar, no doubt. However, the first two beers my wife tried to order were both gone. We each got a beer, then when I tried to order a second, they were out of both beers I tried to order. I wasn't even trying to get uber rare stuff, but they were just out, so we ended up leaving after one beer (in all honesty, if I didn't have 4 days of drinking in VT ahead of me, there were definitely other beers I would've ordered). I'm impressed when a bar has an incredible draft and bottle list, but I'm even more impressed when it's correct and I don't waste time setting my sights on a beer. Just be aware of this as you're looking at the list.

Still, If you're in Portland, Novare Res is a must hit. If you're anywhere near Portland, it's still probably worth going a bit out of your way for. Definitely a cool place.

Photo of TXHops
3.53/5  rDev -21.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

The other reviewers have explained the charm and the great selection of this place and they're all right. I'd personally like to see more local beers but the international selection was great and unusual. However, I'll never return as we had the absolute surliest waiter I've ever had in my entire beer drinking existence. Slow with orders, beyond short with answers, put out by every question or order, rolling eyes when I wanted another round... The place wasn't even crowded. Being this rude goes beyond standard apathy and requires real effort, which is utterly unfathomable. It's too bad- he completely ruined my experience at a place that I was really looking forward to trying.

Photo of davey
4.5/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

What a great place! A non BA friend of mine and I stopped in early afternoon. We heard about it through word of mouth hanging around town for the weekend.
The set up is very nice. Outside wood patio seating (beer garden)with picnic tables and umbrellas. Really clean.
Lots of beer choices, both bottle and draught. Especially the belgians. Service was quick, friendly, and very helpful with beer choices. They definitely know their stuff.
After ordering a couple beers, the owner came over to our table and asked us if he could share a couple beers with us from his cellar. We got a tour and history lesson of the building.
The owner has put a ton of time and money into this place. This has become one of my top 5 bars, and I will be stopping by every time I'm in Portland.

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

This place is a "cool spot" whether you're a local or tourist. I am a tourist to the area and will be reviewing this bar/beer garden from this perspective.

First walking in I notice well made beer merchandise (I know...an oxymoron) covering the walls.. The stuff was actually quite tempting as their logo is fairly bad-ass, but the price led me astray from any immediate purchases. I quickly snagged one of the many available tap lists to aid in my evening's decision. I believe there were approximately 30 beers on tap, all of which were well selected options.

I went with the Allagash Victor...which was unfortunately the only Allagash on tap at the time. I felt this decision was appropriate considering I'd never had an Allagash beer previous to this evening and wanted to try something "local." The beer was terrific and of course came in the appropriate matching Allagash glassware.

I soon ventured outside to the patio to play a little sack toss. I wouldn't normally play this game in any other setting, but I was meeting new people that evening and sack toss is far easier to than having to converse...at least until after I had finished my first beer.

The second thing I noticed was the place packed to the brim. Even with wall to wall patronage there was still ample, roaming service providers who were non-invasive, yet constantly asking me whether I would like another beverage. I did eventually get the funds together for a glass of mead from a local mead producing facility (meadery?) in Portland known as the "Maine Mead Works." This was an outstanding beverage and I am thrilled to have the option to consume and enjoy this beverage.

Unfortunately I did not try any of the food, so I can't speak to that effect.

Overall I was glad I convinced a group of 15 people to venture to a random bar I read about on our first night in Portland, when we could have easily been grinding asses at a local night club instead. The prices were fair, but not outstanding and the overall atmosphere made it an enjoyable evening.

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.

Photo of Bendurgin
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5

I've been going to Novare Res for a while now. One of my first discoveries when I turned 21. Novare Res is probably my favorite place. With the option to sit outside on a nice open patio or sit inside the atmosphere is great. Inside, it's dimly lit with a handful of tables and a long bar. Honestly, kind of looks like a dungeon with out an iron maiden. Lots of tables on the patio where I've always chosen to sit.

The beers are mostly always top notch. I've had a handfull of misses there but it's usually rock solid. Good service for the most part. It's usally busy so waiting is something I understand and I feel the staff is genuinely friendly. Good rotating taps and an extensive bottle really make this a destination. There's always something new to try.

Photo of Gushue3
4.46/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Was in Portland this past weekend and made a point to check this place out. Dark inside with decent music at a reasonable volume. Beer list was great but my only problem was they didn't update their chalkboard. I asked for a Mikkelers Beer Geek Brunch and Breakfast and neither were in stock. Aside from that the price was somewhat expensive, but it is expected, its a craft bar. Smuttynose Barleywine draft was 7.50 and a Baltic Thunder was $14 while not outfuckingragous its still putting a sting on the wallet My waitress was very fast and made sure we were happy. I'd definately go back after an overtime check.

Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.93/5  rDev -12.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

So I normally don't rate places I only go to once, but I feel I must in this case. Overall the selection is great but the customer service is not great.

Atmosphere: cool vibe in brick, dark lighted 'cave' like bar very cool for beer geeks. Overall the people in there seemed ok but a little on the not so beer informed side, it was a Tuesday night afterall.

Quality/service: the bottles look stored well, most of the taps were ok but here's where personal experience comes in: my friend orders a my Antonia (dogfish) on tap and it comes out extremely oxidized and not true to the beer any of us knew. We told the server we had and she was super defensive about it although we spent enough and bought bottles expensive and rare enough that they should have known we knew what we were talking about. Would not replace or give a refund for it. Not cool, if you ask me, even at the super expensive beer bars I've been to everywhere they would take back and probably ackowledge old taps, give a refund or another beer, not the case here. Overall service was spotty and was not friendly even when we tried to engage on a beer level. Quality of the cantillon 2005 guezue was excellent though.

Selection is outstanding, cool tap choices from the world and local plus a great bottle selection. Check out the website for yourself here. Would have liked a bit more Midwest and west coast selection but perhaps thats the state laws?

Overall great beers for the most part, not caring service. Would try again and hope for better results/ ask for tastes if they do that for hoppy stuff.

Photo of gdrydenc
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Atmosphere can't be beat. Granted, I've only been on weekday nights, but it's always been very chilled out, pretty much just people sitting around, talking about beer and life.

Quality is great, they have lots of excellent beers on tap and quite a few great bottles.

Service is awesome, the beertenders have been able to answer any questions I've had and offer some cool suggestions.

Selection is good, but it's slightly limited compared to some other places I've been. I mean, they have like 20 taps, don't get me wrong.

All in all, my favorite bar in Portland, the only issue I have is that it's kind of hidden. But who says that's a bad thing.

Photo of BestBrown4ME
4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Love to make Novare regular stop when i'm in town. The beer selection is unparalleled in Maine. The draught selection is good although it concentrates on Belgian beers heavier than I like. Sometimes hard to find a good dark beer on draught. Bottle prices are high, but there are some beers that you just aren't going to find regularly. Love the selections from ME brewers Marshall Wharf and Maine Beer Co.
Food is good and fresh. Great breads and the yellowfin tuna sandwich is great.
Place can be hard to get a beer from waitstaff sometimes, especially on busy days.
Bring your wallet.

Photo of Flounder57
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

We stopped in here for the first time after hearing great things from many people. From the second we walked in, we knew by the atmosphere and vibe that this is a great place.

We then noticed the draft selection they had. 24 Rotating taps, extensive bottled beer list, and seasonal and rare beers to top things off.

This place is truly a beer connoisseur and the bartender was very knowledgeable about all the beers they had available.

This place is slightly off commercial street in a courtyard commons area behind Key Bank and a parking garage. Next time we go up to Portland, we will keep this place in mind.

Photo of bishopdc0
4.5/5  rDev 0%
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 -1.1%
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 -6.7%
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 +3.6%
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 -5.8%
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 -3.8%
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 -3.1%
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 +11.1%
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 +7.3%
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%
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 +7.3%
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 -10.4%
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 +4.9%
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 +0.7%
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.

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Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
99 out of 100 based on 199 ratings.