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Novare Res Bier Café

Not Rated.
Novare Res Bier CaféNovare Res Bier Café

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

Place added by: indiapaleale on 05-28-2008

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Ratings: 199 | Reviews: 122
Photo of spwalshesq
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
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 -3.1%
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 -3.3%
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 +0.7%
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 -3.6%
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 -17.8%
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.

Photo of Brez07
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

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.

Photo of mavbrew
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Went here last month for the Dogfish night...25 taps of Dogfish plus some a 75 min. cask, had a great time, the staff was very knowledgeable and it seemed like a pretty cool place with the basement like atmosphere. Service was a little on the slower side, it was very busy so I'll give them a break on that. Although all I had were the Dogfish ales available, it seemed like the had a good bottle selection and apparently the 25 taps are on a continuous rotation. I will definitely make it back here in the future, as Portland is a great beer town.

Photo of BretSikkink
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Dope setting, dope beers. This place is great.

I love the basement-like setting, works really nice in foggy, damp Portland. Off the beaten path for sure - this place feels exclusive even though it's 100 feet from the tourist/shopping scene.

This was my first stop in Maine, so I grabbed an Allagash Black, then a Curieux. The wife had Dogfish Head Sah'tea, also very nice. While we weren't there for food, we did grab something to tide us over: the cheese plate we chose was fantastic and I doubt you could have picked a bad one. Everything looked good.

Cheap? Not exactly, but the pricing is premium, not luxury. You get what you pay for, and Novare Res is the good stuff. You would find me hear a LOT if I lived in greater Portland.

Photo of markipa1
4.5/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Went there on a quiet Sunday. The staff was very attentive and super knowledgeable. Gave us free samples of stuff and provided excellent suggestions. Maybe not as many taps as some other places, but what they had was great. Bar is kind of small and dark, and has somewhat of a basement feel to it. A small bar with some long tables behind it. If you are really into beer, and want to go to a place that shares your passion in Portland, ME, this is it. There is no Schlitz available, unlike another well know beer place in the area. This is just a great place for lovers of both american craft ales and belgian beers to enjoy a brew in the company of like minded invdividuals. Highly recommend. Did not try the food, so cannot comment.

Photo of growler
3.18/5  rDev -29.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5

I really wanted to like this place. I came up to Portland for a long weekend. The service was horrendous and uneven. After my husband was about barely halfway through his 1st drink, the male bartender was hounding him for his next drink. However, after I had barely 2 sips left in my drink, no one would come near me. The bartenders were too busy socializing with presumed regulars. Not only that, I noticed they had a computer in the corner of the bar and we playing music from it, but they were also spending way too much time online. Since I was facing the computer, I noticed the familiar BA logo and the male bartender was pointing something out to female bartender. Normally I wouldn't care, but when I have to practically wave an empty glass around to get service. I was also sitting at one end of the bar where I was able to make eye contact or at least attempt. I think it was 4:30 on a Friday and maybe 15 customers in the whole place.

The atmosphere is cool, not too much light. Long tables inside, with maybe 10-15 bar seats. Selection was good, both tap and bottles. I had the Smuttynose Brett & I and Allagash Burnham Road. I would visit again if in the area, in hopes they have learn to step up the service. If I want potential crappy service, I can go somewhere in Boston and not drive 2 hours.

Photo of luddy83
3.69/5  rDev -18%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5

I found the execution of the design to be a bit on the low rent side. There are some nice touches (taps behind the bar, the beer cooler) but also plenty of cheap touches (cabinetry at the back bar, bar stools uncomfortable due to them being very industrial with a totally flat seat, tables are utilitarian).

I found the service very bad. I tried to get the bartender's attention on a slow night and had no luck. I asked a question of the waitress who seemed shocked someone wanted to ask a question. She warmed up a bit later and was reasonably helpful in selecting a beer. She seemed knowledgeable. Later, when we tried to engage her for our next choice, she passed us off to the surly bartender, who seemed just released from military basic training and lacked all social graces.

When I tried to get the person's attention who was fiddling with the music by taking a step around the bar, I was accosted by the barman in a very belligerent manner--mind you, I'm no terrorist at 55 and generally mild mannered. He put his hand on me and I politely asked him to remove it and all he could do was parrot, "Get away from the back of the bar." It all left a rather sour taste in my mouth, I finished my beer, asked for the check, and left. I won't be in a hurry to return.

The bottled beer menu is well organized by category but the draught menu is merely a listing with alcohol content and amount poured. If you are trying to educate the uninitiated, more information would be helpful.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.43/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

I came here for Dogfish Head night with Sam Calagione, 23 taps of DFH beer, awesome event.

They have a really nice space inside, all sorts of cool bottles and beer decorations along with a huge tap line, they've got 25 rotating taps which really is crazy for a bar this size.

To top that off though, they've got a whole bunch of awesome outdoor seating on the patio with plenty of tables and umbrellas to hang out under. They've also got a whole staff who knows their shit and will come out to your tables to get your orders.

Overall, I've got to say this was probable one of the best beer bars I've ever been to, so if you're in the Portland area it is worth a stop. Make sure to check their website as well because they have some awesome events like the DFH I went to, also Garrett Oliver came for a Brooklyn night earlier this summer and there's a Rouge night later this summer.

Photo of SteveO1231
4.95/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5


Seriously, this was my third and final stop of a beer tour of Portland and I'm glad that I left this one for last because it is the best beer bar I've ever been in.

Located in the basement of an alley downtown. I feel like I was entering a trappist monk's monastery. The place is a dark little bar with very plan decor some beer stuff, but mostly dark, brick walls. The outside patio was awesome! large picnic tables in a nice courtyard area surrounded by ivy laden brick walls.

Fucking ridiculous beer list a think is was like five pages long of perfectly chosen beers. Mostly Belgian or Belgian inspired ales. If it wasn't on tap it was definitely in bottle. The staff was very friendly and informative and provided samples to help make decisions.

I sat with my wife for the better part of the afternoon at Novare Res drinking excellent beers and sampling some really good cheeses and cured meats. The place had such a good vibe everyone was very nice.

After visiting Novare Res, I want to pack up my shit and move to Portland. A MUST STOP!


Photo of CHADMC3
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

This place is awesome! A must visit in my opinion.

The old brick building is lined with old specialty bottles, long tables, a great bar, and low lighting. I could sit in this place all night. Great music too, laid back, and very appropriate for the surroundings. Also, there is a HUGE beer cooler/locker I could do a dance in if given the chance.

The beer menu is fantastic featuring 20+ taps (I think) and pages of bottles broken out by style and/or region. One of the better menus I have seen, but can get pricey. I had a Nogne O Imperial Stout and a Stone Ruination. My wife had a Hennepin and a St. Bernardus 12. All served in appropriate glassware and quite excellent.

The staff was extremely knowledgeable and could talk not only about the individual beers, but the breweries and could share stories about meeting the brewers. Great place for the true Geek!

Only cheese dishes, snacks, and small sandwiches are served. The prosciutto plate was fantastic as well as the hummus and fruit plate (forget name).

I will certainly be visiting Novare Res again.

In parting, the menu is a must see, absolutely great offerings for a great atmosphere.

Photo of tendermorsel
4.58/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

I finally had a chance to check out this place on a recent trip to Portland for the Gargamel release. I had high hopes for this place as I knew Eric the owner from his Moan and Dove days. It exceeded all my expections.

First off the location is near perfect. Right in the middle of downtown Portland in the middle of all the action. Perfect scores for atomsphere. Tons of beer decarations. Gorgous wood panneling on the bar and classic tables and furnature. Appearently this was all hand made by Eric and his family. The best looking bar I have been to in a long time.

Great tap and bottle list. We were there for Belgian weeks so the taps were mostly Belgian. I had a Mad Bitch. My buddy had a Cantillon Iris. There were about 15-20 taps and all were high quality.

The service was great. I ran into Eric at Allagash earlier in the day and he offered to call his staff have and have them open an hour early just so we could check the place out and avoid a later drive to Boston. The staff was great. Quick to talk about beer and very knowlegable too. I liked the fact that they were doing a mug club there just like the Moan and Dove.

The food was OK.. One of my friends ordered a small meat plate which looked good. I didn't come here for the food however.

Overall I would highly reccomend this place. I plan on going back again soon. I would be a regular here if I lived aroud here. I wish I could have stayed for more than one beer.

Photo of abass
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Oh thank God, a place in Portland where the people who serve the beer know what they are talking about! I've only been here twice, but it's a interesting little place that's out of the way, which seems to keep out the general bar going public and cater only to those of us that appreciate a good beer, which is great. Decor is set in the basement of a large building, interesting kind of dark tavern-like atmosphere. Selection is absolutely excellent, i'm willing to bet there's nowhere else in Maine that can come close. the second time I was there I asked for something relatively inexpensive, and the barkeeper chose 355ml of Witkap off tap and a Stone IPA , both were outstanding and a good choice by the staff. Does get very, very busy (and crowded) late at night, maybe need to consider hiring more staff, which is a good thing for them. Also maybe a tad expensive but considering what your getting and their limited clientele, I don't really have a problem with it. Great place, going back soon.

Photo of Jayli
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

Stopped in here over Memorial Day weekend. A friend of mine in the area knew my affinity for good beer and decided this was a MUST GO TO. I have to say, dammit - she was RIGHT!
Novare Res is located just off Exchange St. For an out of towner, you'd walk right past this place and be none-the wiser for what you passed up. There is 2 separate sections to the place - the indoor part of the cafe, and the outdoor. The inside is what I would imagine pubs to look like in Germany and Amsterdam, with exposed brick floor, long wooden bar, and tables dispersed throughout. Outside has about 6-7 long picnic tables in the terrace.
Service was fantastic. Bartenders were knowledgeable and would let you sample different beers if you had questions. All beers are served in the proper glassware.
Selection is outstanding. They routinely rotate the 25 taps that they have, and offer about 300 bottles - fantastic Belgian presence. Prices can be a little steep, but the selection and availablility of these beers pretty much balance out.
This is by and far one of the best beer bars that I have been to. I onlt wish that I were closer to Portland..of course, my liver may be happy that I am not...
This is a must stop at for anyone in or visiting the Portland area!

Photo of IBUnit63
4.55/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

This is sort of in the middle of the block in downtown Portland at Canal Plaza. It's on the bottom floor of the building (is there another floor) with a few long beer hall tables, about 20 or so taps and regular tables on the wall by the window. Pretty dark inside 'cause it faces a wall with tables up top outside. We were there mid-PM on a Sunday so it was pretty quiet. Cool tunes.

The service was very friendly and suggested a couple of small plates for us - we had the tap menu covered pretty well. I had a Lou Pepe Framboise and a Saison Dupont...the Beautiful Bride had a Saison Avril and kept it clean with an Allagash White. They were cool with us having our 5-year-old along at that hour - he just wanted some water and hung out and played with his trains.

Beer list is amazing. 20 taps - lots of Belgian flair (no, not "pieces of flair") with some decent off-the-wall selections. I was wicked bummed the keg of Confluence just kicked though. The bottle list is certifiably insane. I mean, it's ten &*(%ing pages long. And most (almost all) of it is very good stuff.

Food for us was again, just some small plates...salami and aged gouda. Hey, it hit the spot as a mid-afternoon snack.

OK, let's be honest. It's not that cheap. But hey, it's not like it's ridiculous when considering standard bottle markup from retail. And it's a very cool place, so it's a must stop when in Portland.

Photo of John_M
4.1/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Just off of Exchange street in downtown Portland is Novare Res Bier Café. They have a sign posted on Exchange street, fortunately, as otherwise it's not all that easy to find.

The cafe is located in essentially it's own little plaza area with a very large patio for out door seating. As the weather was gorgeous this particular evening (temps in the low 80's), the patio was packed. As one walks inside, one is confronted by a fair size dining area with two bars. My guess is the two bar areas seat around 20 people, and it was fairly full around 6:00 on a Friday. The room has a low ceiling with lots of wood and brick. Seating consists of benches and long tables in the dining area, and there's no doubt the owners are trying to portray an informal, relaxed, minimalist vibe. It's OK, though I can't say I found the bar chairs or seating arrangements particularly comfortable.

As for the beer selection, this day they had 28 beers on tap (one cider as well), including 3 beers on cask. Surprisingly, they only had 6 actual Belgian beers on the draft list, but with a number of Belgian syle domestic beers. Things I saw included De Range XX and Noir De Dottignies, Black Albert (at $10 for an 8 ounce glass!), Chimay, etc. There were also some local beers (marshall wharf and beer of the Gods), and overall I thought the draft list pretty decent. The bottle list consists of around 300 selections, which I know sounds pretty strong. In fact it was decent, but on the other hand I didn't see one thing I hadn't seen elsewhere. Also, I don't know... I just thought it would have been nice to see more local selections on the bottle list. They had a couple of beers from Beer of the Gods, some smuttynose, and some Allagash, and that was it.

The two beers I had were the Taras Boulba and the Noir De Dottignies. Both were quite good and were served in proper glassware. The cafe seems to take it's glassware seriously, something I always appreciate. Didn't try the food, but it's pretty limited in any event. They have a meat and cheese selection, and you can mix and match several plates to make up an antipasta dish.

Prices are hard to describe here. I thought them a bit high on some things (see the Black Albert price, and my two beers were both in the $8 to $8.50 range), but on others fairly reasonanble (a pint of prima pils was $5). Still, overall I thought the prices here just a bit high.

Apparently they also have some sort of beer club here, as I saw a number of people with paper charts, marking off different beers as they tried them. I didn't see any information about this, nor did my waitress volunteer any info, but as I was just here for the one day, I saw no reason to inquire.

Service here was decent. The wait staff was familiar with all the beers, though their actual knowledge about them seemed a bit limited. For some reason it seemed to take a while initiially to get a beer, but after that things went much more quickly and smoothly.

This is a very solid place, even if for some reason it just didn't wow me as much as I was expecting. Still, I would certainly recommend this place and wouldn't hesitate to stop in again next time I'm in town.

Photo of slander
4.8/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I told them I can start not next week, but the week after that and then promptly gone gotten myself all Portland up (yes, past participle is the same as present tense). And now, I'm thinking one more and out. One more place, that is, not beer; 'cause what if I want more than anyway, maybe definitely that place 10 months newish I 'ent been. Easy, around the corner and up the block some from elsewhere, through the know what you're looking for alley way and what I saw there. Over there that-a-way in where everyone else is going just shortly after a late afternoon opening...

Basement of a bank gone bar, roomy, nicely low lit and dim some even with the windows, and cranking Stop Whispering from Pablo Honey to greet me. I'm so going to be late for dinner; I should probably call but I don't. Lots of brick play being a ground floor and all, and pillars as such. To the rear, a "Z" shaped bar seating about a dozen and a half with a cut through to somewhere.

2 dozen taps on a long cylinder tower over mirrored panels on center, with slight shelving holding glassware & booze to both sides, and some more glassware displayed shelved on one end and racked above the cut in the bar. An offensively large 6 litre bottle of La Fin Du Monde sits displayed at the end of the bar. I just spotted a pair of handpumps on the corner of the barback, only one of them up at this moment. Empty bottles lining the way above the bar and along the front windows, and there's a bit of brewery signage here and there, and meat & cheese selections shown on a small menu board.

Pressed tin ceiling, mounted spots and some strung holiday lighting. A single giant long beer hall table seats, like, a millon, and then a ½ dozen or so tables more that I can see, plus something going on through that cut through there, I was going to get to it then and now, the back room, and me not my first beer in hand esssplorin'. A pair of dart boards, some local art for sale, a little cushy couch action around a fireplace, and some bar counter action "L"ing the corner. And is it me or have they been playing like nonstop Johnny Cash for the last hour?

Back to the bar, and a lengthy but necessary review of the sick, sick, sick bottled list here; Frank from that other place well west of here, the other bar patrons and myself dissecting the beer menu with the precision of drunken 7 year olds playing that Operation board game with the loud buzzer. Very well done, I don't know but I'd say a hair over 300 bottles beers; Belgian & Belgian style including categories for Flemish Sour, Trappist, Strong, Sour/Wild/Funk, and Lambic (the dozen and a half entries made up entirely of beers from Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen & Hannsens), German & UK, a variety of all the lager & ale styles, plus vintage/limited, ciders, gluten free beers, N/A's, and then everything new lumped together too.

24 taps; some Maine goods (Marshall Wharf Cant Dog Imperial IPA & Chaos Chaos Imperial Stout, Allagash Dubbel), New Englanders (Smutty Star Island Single & IPA, High & Mighty Two-Headed Beast, Harpoon Cider), regionals (DogFishHead 60 Minute IPA, Fort & Chicory Stout), and away (Arcadia Cereal Killer Barleywine, Hop Rocket Double IPA & Sky High Rye, North Coast Red Seal, Rogue Younger's Special Bitter), and imports Belgian (De La Senne Equinox, Gouden Carolus Ambrio, Scaldis, Kwak) and not (Sinebrychoff Porter, Unibroue Maudite & Blanche De Chambly, Beamish, O'Hara's Stout).

Started with a bottle of Black Albert ('cause it's Maine and that's where Albert lives), and toyed with the cask Allagash Curieux but opted instead for a Smutty Star Island Single ('cause I ain't seen it down south yet). If I had known then what Marshall Wharf was about, it would've been a whole 'nother story. I could do some time around that tap list, uh huh. Prices are reasonable (Beamish costs $6 a pint, the O'Hara's Stout is $6.50, go figure). Service was good (enough to put up with me). Comfortable house. Tunes. Tunes! I'm so going to be late for dinner.

Photo of ToasterChef
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

In a town full of enjoyable bars, Novare Res quickly became my regular hang-out. The selection of beers is amazing; they only stock the finest beers (no BMC, ever). The bottle list spans numerous pages and is organized by country and style, with bottle size, price and ABV clearly listed. The draft list is constantly changing, and surprisingly often you can find a beer on tap that is extremely rare or unique (bourbon barrel aged Allagash brews, for example). The food menu is limited, but it works; a few hot sandwiches and a selection of meats and cheeses. Occasionally, they will over something special, such as grilled sausages cooked outside on their deck.

That atmosphere is fitting for a bar built in the basement of a former bank. The bottle room is in the old vault! The lights are generally kept low (and get dimmer as the night progresses) and the music is played loud (my only complaint about the place is that sometimes the music is so loud you can't converse, but that's rare). There are plenty of empty bottles on display, including all of the staff's KTG empties and a number of Black Alberts. The back room features some nice couches, a fireplace, and two dart boards (personally I don't play darts, but I've heard that the boards are terrible). Overall, it's a place that when you first walk in, you can imagine spending hours here.

My favorite aspect of Novare is their take on a mug club. Called the Uprising, entrants lay down $20 and get a list of 230 bottles they stock. As you drink each one of the list, it gets checked off by a staff member. Once you've had them all, you are officially a member of the Uprising. You get a key to the Chalice room, where you can store your personallized 24oz glass. From that point forward, any draft you order, no matter what size glass it should be poured in, is served in your Chalice--at the normal price. If you finish the list in a year, you even get your entry fee back. It's a fun way to learn a lot about beers, as every style and country represented on the menu is found on the list.

Lastly, the staff is top-notch. Each of them has tried every beer available and can provide suggestions to anyone who walks in. They are all friendly--to the customers and each other. It's as if they are all part of one big family. Make a few trips and soon they'll be greeting you by name when you walk in. Novare is truly a treasure and a beer bar that every BA should visit.

Photo of GreatPondBrewer
4.5/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5

A very cool place. Cool interior design, nice low lighting. It isn't overly stocked with kitsch or something like that. Novare res is just a good beer bar. The dedication is CLEARLY there. I didn't see a beer I would never drink. Had a cask selection, couple drafts, bottle of buffalo stout, and a few snorts of various taps.The service was very nice and I was well taken care of. There is little bad to speak of this place. If every "beer bar" was as dedicated as this people would rarely be of wont.

Photo of sholland119
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This would be a very regular stop for us if we lived 350 miles closer.

Great vibe with a lot of dark wood, a cool fake "tin" drop ceiling and a nice long L-shaped bar. The uncomfortable square wooden stools are the only remotely negative thing about the whole place.

The beer selection is quite extensive, with about 25 taps (almost all Belgian) and 230 or so bottles (a nice mix). Every beer we had was served in appropriate, logoed glassware, a nice touch.

Service was excellent and quite knowledgeable. Once the bartender figured out we were beer geeks, we even got a tour of the cellar (the vault of the bank that was once housed in the space). We even saw the whole staff at the KtG release the next day.

Food is limited to cheese and meats and a couple of tapas type dishes. All of the cheese was top notch, though.


Photo of MaineBirdMan
3.7/5  rDev -17.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 2

My friends had told me to look for the "beer garden." My wife and I found the place last Friday night. My wife loved the place (even though she doesn't drink). I was satisfied with the place. I was expecting something a little more. The beer selection was awesome and the way they had the menu set up was excellent. I was excited to see they had a stout from Orkney,Scotland. I was in Scotland in 97 and remember this stout quite fondly. So I was eager to have it again. "Sorry, we don't have that one." Bummer. My wife wanted one of their non-alcoholic beers, "Sorry we don't have that one." Bummer. She settled for a ginger beer. The bartender was nice enough but not very up on his beers. There was one bartender (he said he was persian) who was excellent. We didn't try any of the food. The cheese selection looked fine and there seemed to be some nice pairings. We were never asked if we wanted any food. I guess I should have gone out of my way and asked. I mean, I am the one paying the bill. I might go back. I won't go out of my way to get there.

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