Novare Res Bier Café

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
98
world-class

129 Reviews
PLACE STATS
Place Score:
98
Reviews:
129
Ratings:
248
Avg:
4.46
pDev:
6.5%
 
 
Taps:
26
Bottles/Cans:
250
Cask:
Y
Beer-to-Go:
N
Novare Res Bier CaféNovare Res Bier Café
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

4 Canal Plz
Portland, Maine, 04101-4034
United States

(207) 761-2437 | map
www.novareresbiercafe.com

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by indiapaleale on 05-28-2008

Grab a complimentary copy of BeerAdvocate magazine here while supplies last.
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Reviews: 129 | Ratings: 248
Photo of illpass78
5/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

What is there to say about about this place? It's the best. Amazing selection of foreign and Maine beers. Menu is just what it should be - mix of great cheese pairings and cut-above pub food. Justifiably beloved.

 212 characters

Photo of -Rick
4.7/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

This was the best beer bar we visited while in Portland. A bit hard to find (located in a back alley type location), it was well worth the hunt. A great selection of tap offerings, and an even better list of rare/interesting bottles to try. The food was also quite good. We had a great cheese plate, with all the fixins. Will certainly return here if in Portland again.

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Photo of ESCO138
4.95/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.75

This place was amazing, had CBS on Tap plus too many other great stouts I can't even remember. The staff was very helpful and the atmosphere superb. Would definitely recommend.

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Photo of SenatorSpaceman
2.36/5  rDev -47.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 2.25 | food: 2.75

This place ended up being a MASSIVE letdown for a spot that is so highly recommended. The vibe/setup is cool but that's where it ends. The selection of American/Maine beers was very weak. Nowhere near the selection of Bissell, Foundation, Oxbow, etc. found at so many other bars in the neighborhood. They were unapologetically out of almost everything we wanted on the food menu and the service was absolutely rock bottom quality.

I'd have a difficult time conveying how offensive the service actually was, but our stomachs and empty glasses spent the night longing for our waitress' attention as she sat and chatted at other tables.

If you only like foreign beers and have no problem with putrid service, then this is the place for you. Otherwise, go somewhere else. There are plenty of better options within walking distance.

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Photo of jhavs
4.16/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Mid afternoon lunch, bar area mostly full, tables not crowded. They have a well-selected tap list that is more euro-centric as well as a large bottle list. The bottle list has many "hard to get" selections, but you will pay dearly for them. Bartenders did a fine job, were knowledgeable, but seemed mostly uninterested in anything but chatting with each other. I saw a few groups walk in and then leave when they were not helped. Had an item off of the special list as my meal. Food is made with care, looked and tasted good but wished I had went with something else after seeing a few people around me served.

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Photo of JonahBrews
4.63/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This place has been a staple for years. The selection is astronomical and I love the fact they have a beer list to keep and check off which beers you have tried and write personal notes. Individual glasses mean a lot for each particular beer, and a very knowledgeable staff. Also, a Hole-In-The-Wall; you have to walk down an plaza in order to find it.

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Photo of mendvicdog
3.61/5  rDev -19.1%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Not really my scene. Nothing exciting on the menu; they were having a lord hobo event. A decent selection of beers, but the King's head is much better in my opinion.

Would return if they have a better taplist.

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Photo of 52mgtd
4.85/5  rDev +8.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

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

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Photo of Sludgeman
4.64/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

F - Did not eat food during this visit.

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Photo of vonnegut21
3.47/5  rDev -22.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 2 | selection: 4

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

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

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Photo of Faxmesomehalibut
4.65/5  rDev +4.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

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

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Photo of kevdemers
4.76/5  rDev +6.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

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

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Photo of MtnSoup
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

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

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

Highly recommend making it here if in Portland, ME.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

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

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Photo of hudsonheat
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

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

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Photo of KornWallace
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of millionsuns
4.95/5  rDev +11%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of BradMacMullin
4.85/5  rDev +8.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75

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

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Photo of shahn
4.74/5  rDev +6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

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

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Photo of Twobeards
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

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

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Photo of jjboesen
4.69/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of Kirk_Grant
4.16/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.5

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

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

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

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Photo of LittleDon
4.52/5  rDev +1.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

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

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

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

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Photo of rjp217
4.59/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

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

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Photo of dancaplette
4.03/5  rDev -9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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

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

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

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

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Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
98 out of 100 based on 129 ratings.