Novare Res Bier Café
Taps: 26 / Bottles: 250
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 153 | Reviews: 113 | Display Reviews Only:
4.8/5 rDev +7.1%
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.
05-14-2009 23:55:43 | More by slander
4.35/5 rDev -2.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
The wife and I got to Novare Res just as it was starting to snow heavily in Portland, October 29. Quite a sight… have you ever seen snow by the beach? This bar is in the Old Port area but not exactly- far enough from the main drags to have no tourists inside. Sweet! The folks at Novare kind of reminded me of Baltimore… homely, sailor-like, red-cheeked and on the ugly side of things but oh-so-friendly.
The atmosphere here is extremely cozy and inviting, more so on a cold snowy day. It feels like a cellar or a private bar at rich man’s house. I would want to hang out here forever! It only needs a fireplace to be perfectly perfect. Communal tables, a variety of rooms, nooks and crannies… yeah.
On tap- 16 “regular” beers (including Maine Peeper, Allagash Malone, Rising Tide Daymark, Brooklyn Companion, Dogfish 90); 1 cask and 20 Harvest taps (including rare ciders and meads, plus Dogfish Pumpkin, Jolly Parcela and a cask of ’08 Allagash Ghouleschip) .
It was “Harvest Day”, hence the outrageous amount of autumn taps. The owner suddenly went over to the bar and said he was buying everyone a round of harvest ciders/beers. How cool is that! We got a bourbon-barrel cider from Mystic, CT (14%),that was absolutely smashing and delightful.
They had a special Harvest Tasting Menu, of which we got the cabbage-wrapped pheasant terrine. Sounds good! But it wasn’t so great… really lame and bland, needed salt and pepper and spice. Still, I appreciate the effort to be creative.
Prices were on the high side ($6-$8) for 8-12 oz pours, but we got a free round so it evened out. Service was excellent at those communal tables and the ambience just so cozy! A great choice, and don’t forget the extensive bottled-beer menu.
10-31-2011 04:30:18 | More by DoubleSimcoe
3.94/5 rDev -12.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$
A classy restaurant with a large patio. Pretty pretty good cellar list and decent tap list, with correct poured temperature and over a large bar. Hard to find, we circled one way streets a few times until I found a tourist map with the clue on how to enter by foot. A number of weird and ordinary people here, they make up a good part of the city but in the end they are harmless. Service was decent and there were people like me there, for the beer. I would come back again. Newer place that can become something. Would like an earlier opening time for the bar.
08-16-2012 23:21:22 | More by Sammy
4.1/5 rDev -8.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
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.
05-23-2009 14:08:13 | More by John_M
4.03/5 rDev -10%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
We stopped in here on Saturday late afternoon for pre-dinner drinks and snacks. There is a sign on the street that directs you down the alley to the cafe, so that was helpful. Looks like a tucked-away beer garden when you come around the corner. There is an elevated patio where you can sit at tables outside and enjoy the sun. Inside, it's a very cozy and homey bier bar. There are communal large table that encourage sitting with others. The brick walls gave it an old-world look. Tons of beer signs everywhere to keep my eyes wandering. Awesome looking walk-in beer cellar. We were there the day after the 2nd year anniversary, so there were still a lot of those beers on tap. Plus, the huge menu-like book of bottled beers to choose from. We had to wait a while to be served, and once she took our order, two other waitresses came by to take our order again. They need to get their act coordinated. We also noticed other tables that sat for a while without getting served. Also, whenever the waitress came back to us, she seemed very hurried and rushed. We ordered a few beers. I had the BFM Cuveé Alex Le Rouge on cask and the Marshall Wharf Novare Res Anniv. Beer. My wife had the DFH Immort Ale and the Haverill Tappist 8 dubbel. All were good. We also ordered a cheese plate ($3 per selection). Had a trio, with accompaniments, which was delicious. We were just finishing up, when I saw the dessert, and I wish I saw them first. Cantillon truffles? Tripel ice cream? Wow. Prices here were on the high side, but this level of quality is going to cost you. Novare Res really does stand out as the premier destination in Portland, and possibly one of the top in New England. I am glad that we finally got a chance to experience it.
05-24-2010 18:42:48 | More by morebeergood
4.45/5 rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
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.
02-26-2009 18:57:37 | More by sholland119
4.22/5 rDev -5.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
A little late on entering this, but so what, eh? Stopped by here with Artied2 and Al H after playing game 1 of the Old Boars Summer Hockey Tourney on 05AUG11.
We parked up on the hill and found our way here easily. Down Exchange St until a small alley opened on the right; then to a large brick building and a right on the walkway to the Res. You can enter the bar itself on the left, in the basement floor of the brick building, or go right up some stairs to an open-air deck area. Artie and Al grabbed some air on the deck with a bier, while I explored inside. Upon entering, there are some benches on the left with local reading material, with the wall above displaying some fine-looking shirts for sale. A bit more to the left is a doorway to a small room with a few tables. Going right instead, you are in the main part of the pub. The place has a cool, pressed-tin ceiling, lots of exposed brick and worn wood. The lighting gives the pub a warm, inviting feel. Lots of old bier plaques and posters cover the walls. There's a bar to the rear left of this room, a long L-shaped unit. You can sit at one of about a dozen seats there, or at one of the many long, German style tables. I like the concept.
The time needed reading the bier list here rivals that of War and Peace. Shitloads... and it is top-shelf stuff, too. I was quite bummed, though, during my visit to find a Rogue tap takeover. Sorry; I don't give a flying fuck for Rogue; I came for the Belgians. Service? The place was pretty full, but I still stood at the bar for a too-long amount of time before being ackowledged. And then my bill was slow-coming as well. The prices are quite steep, imo. I'd have to plan ahead to come here, and set aside a healthy amount of coin. Seems like Res has jumped on the "gouge the bier-geek gravy train". Oh well.... I might return, under the right conditions. We'll see... Prosit!
4.22 rDev -5.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$$
08-27-2011 20:49:57 | More by Bierman9
4.5/5 rDev +0.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
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.
07-19-2010 01:09:25 | More by blackie
4.22/5 rDev -5.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
I had the opportunity to drop by Novare Res Bier Café this past weekend while on a mini vacation up in Portland. The weather provided a classic New England backdrop with a crisp and sunny feel on this start of autumn. This place is a tad off the beaten path and I had asked a local storeowner how to get here and was fortunate enough to get some accurate directions. It should be noted however that this place is easy to walk to in the Old Port/Downtown Portland area.
The vibe inside is pretty chill with long wooden tables that have a communal feel. You can expect a lengthy beer menu to help guide you through some excellent beer options. I think there is about 25 or so draft options that included Dogfish Head Punkin Ale & 60 Minute IPA, Rogue Double Dead Guy, North Coast Acme IPA and some Unibroues. One thing I noticed was the great German beer options like a Helles Lager and Doppelbock.
The bottle listing is very extensive with about 200 options! I must admit there was a ton of beers offered here that I have never heard of, but completely piqued my interest. I decided on a 750 ML of Cantillon Kriek, complimented with some nice Cantillon glassware. Quality appears to be one of the strong points of this beer bar.
We decided to sit outside on the patio. There is ample seating out there as well with many picnic tables. I didn't try the food as I had a big lunch earlier that day, but you can expect small plates with an emphasis on European meats & cheeses.
Without question, a "must stop" when visting the area. I continually find myself quite impressed with the abundance of great craft beer options in Portland. Just when I thought it couldn't get much better, along comes Novare Res.
09-24-2008 00:08:05 | More by Hibernator
4.69/5 rDev +4.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
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!
11-14-2013 18:03:15 | More by jjboesen
Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
99 out of 100 based on 153 ratings.