Ebenezer's Brewpub / Lively Brewing Co.
Ratings: 59 | Reviews: 51 | Display Reviews Only:
5/5 rDev +9.2%
This review was written on July 1, as soon as I got home from the Lion's Pride. I think I may have just had the best beer experience of my life. I walked into the empty restaurant and was asked by a server if I wanted I table. I told him I wanted to sit at the bar and he said I was welcome to. As I walked to the beautiful copper topped bar, the woman behind the bar said "You're Nissa's [my wife] significant other...Josh..or something with a J." I told her it was Jim and sat down, amazed that I'm already known by name at a place I've never been to before. [I've been to Ebenezer's, so Jess already knew me]
This initial experience showed me that this place is just as inviting and friendly as Ebenezer's is. Every patron is a friend and is always welcome. Within ten minutes of sitting down I was introduced to Chris Lively (the owner) as a Beer Advocate, and he handed me a $600 bottle of 3 Fonteinen J & J Oude Gueuze that he was planning on uncorking for the official opening of the bar on July 3. You don't get an experience like that at just any bar.
The Lion's Pride is laid out in three sections. As you walk in the front door you enter the dining room. It's full of comfortable looking tables. To your left is a former sun room that provides the closest thing to outdoor seating you'll find here with its glass walls. To your right is the bar area, where I spent all of my time and which I will cover in my review.
As I mentioned, there is an L-shaped copper topped bar. Behind one side of it are the 35 taps, each topped with a custom made blown glass tap handle. There are no brewery labels on the taps, all you have to go by is the wall-length chalkboard listing all 35 draft selections. Continuing the no labels theme is the glassware section behind the other side of the bar. Here you'll find wine, pilsner, tulip and snifter glasses, all unadorned with any markings [No pint glasses! This is a bar with no pint glasses!]. Later on in the evening, they put up a selection of Allagash glasses; it was the only labeled barware in sight, save one random St. Bernadus chalice that looked out of place on it's shelf. I doubt that the Allagash glasses will last much longer than the kegs of Fedelta and White that are currently on offer, unless another Allagash keg is tapped.
Surrounding the glassware are the bottle coolers, although you could easily call them a beer museum. In my quick perusal I spied a bottle of Gargamel, numerous vintages of Cantillons, a selection of De Rankes, and some 3 Fonteinens (including the aforementioned 03 J & J Oude Gueuze), and that was jsut the labmic cooler. At the other end of the bar are a number of Trappist selections, abbey ales and other Belgian goodies.
Elsewhere in the barroom you'll find a flat screen television, a long upholstered bench on one wall, a number of tables with upholstered chairs that match the bench, and satellite blues music on the loudspeakers. On the walls are an assortment of bar signs. Even better than the bar signs are the large murals representing a number of different beer labels form around the country. The walls are either dark red, yellow or black, representing the three colors on the Belgian flag. There is a tin ceiling. I don't recall what the lighting was like, but it was bright enough to feel comfortable. There are a few windows that look onto Pleasant street. It was very cozy and comfortable without feeling forced.
The service was excellent, with everyone eager and willing to discuss beer. They were also quick to ask you if you wanted a refill once your glass got empty (for both beer and water). I forget all the names of the people I met, but each of them would be a perfect server; to have a team this prepared and competent on opening day is amazing.
I didn't try the food, but it looked great. The beef and pork come from the same farm that provides the meat for Ebenezer's Pub, and those selections are to die for. All of the fruit and vegetables are purchased fresh at the local farmer's market. I imagine the seafood is local as well. The cheeses are all artisanal, including some Trappist selections.
One aspect of the bar I cannot review yet is the brewery side. All of the brewing equipment is visible through large windows in the dining room. It will be a few months before anything drinkable is produced, but if it is even half the quality of the rest of this bar, then the beers will be something to go far out of your way for.
In summary, I can't say enough good things about the Lion's Pride. Previously, any beer fan would need to go to any of three places in Maine: Ebenezer's, Novare Res or the Great Lost Bear. We can now safely add a fourth location to that list, and it may very well enter the list at number 1. If God were a craft beer drinker, he's be a regular here. Do whatever you can to get to the Lion's Pride. You will not be disappointed. For me, it is brewpub perfection.
07-04-2009 04:30:43 | More by ToasterChef
5/5 rDev +9.2%
Anyone who has been to Ebenezers and heard about the opening of this place had high hopes for what was originally going to be the Pannepot Cafe.
Three years later, despite legal wrangling, personal differences and a name change, I'm here to tell you that once again Chris and Jen (and Sean Paxton) have a winner!
Upon entering Lion's Pride your eyes are drawn to the beautiful gleaming copper brew kettles, the fantastic tin beer signs, posters, artwork and murals that adorn the walls and the warm and inviting copper top L-shaped bar.
Thirty-five gorgeous hand-blown glass tap handles line one wall behind the bar and they take on a very distinctive kaleidoscopic look when they are backlit when the sun goes down.
Some of the outstanding offerings on tap were Abbey de Saint bon Chein 2008, 2003 Bigfoot, 2005 Cantillon Lou Pepe Framboise, Old Crustacean, Smuttnose Imperial Stout, De Glazen Toren, Allagash/DeStruise Fedelta and De Ranke XX Bitter.
The bottled beers are out of this world. A cooler full of lambics - various Cantillons, Drie Fonteinen, Oud Beersel, Girardin Gueuze Black Label, etc. Another cooler with shelves of Trappists, Abbey ales, Fantome's offerings, the lion's share of DeStruise's beers, Nogne-O Dark Horizon first and second editions, Mikkeler's beers, Angelique, etc., etc.
Sitting on the bar was a 10 liter bladder of unblended, still Girardin lambic that had an amazing fino sherry quality to it. For the grand opening Chris once again wowed us with his generosity as multiple bottles of JJ Blaw and JJ Roos, Cantillon Crianza Helena, 1978 Hansens Kreik served side-by-side with the 2008 version were opened and shared amongst those in attendance.
To give you an idea of the creativity in the kitchen, Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus and Iris gelatos were supremely crafted and we were able to try a one-of-a-kind beer float that was stunning. The cheese plate was killer and a fantastic value. Generous servings of five well-chosen quality offerings served with just baked bread, grapes, cherries and other fruit. The frites are a basketful of divine inspiration - the perfect crunch matched with two wonderful aiolis. The famous steak tips and Chimay burger have made the trek eastward as well.
All of the aforementioned attributes of Lion's Pride would make it a winner, but just like Ebenezer's it is the service that takes this place to the next level.
Somehow Chris finds the right people to work for him - passionate, sincere, funny and attentive. It's clear that his passion and work ethic transfer to his staff and they feed off his energy. Some of the staff made the trip over from Ebs for the opening (the wonderful Hannah) and its clear that Chris and those who have been with him have immediately trained the new staff the right way. The place just has the right vibe. Anyone who's been to Ebenezer's knows what I'm talking about. It's a place where your feel welcomed and unhurried - a brief respite from the hectic pace of everyday life.
Congratulations Chris, Jen, Sean and DeStruise on a great opening and a fantastic restaurant and beer destination!
07-04-2009 15:12:25 | More by Rochefort10nh
5/5 rDev +9.2%
What a place! What started out as a quick pit stop to see an old friend on a long drive turned into a truly unbelievable evening of incredible Belgian beer.
I was initially blown away by how comfortable and quiet the place was. Considering the selection (see below), if this place was in any more populated area, the line would be out the door and around the corner. But thankfully (at least for me) this was not the case.
The selection would bring tears to the eyes of any self-respecting beer lover. We visited during their first annual Belgian beer fest so the selection was understandably skewed in that direction. They have 35 taps...each and every one of them pumped out nothing but exceptional stuff. We tried the Cuvee des Jacobins, BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien, Allagash Interlude, Tsimje BBB, Cambridge's Benevolence and on and on.
The food was pretty tasty as well. "Pliny The Burger" did not disappoint.
The service was exceptional. Extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff. Certainly some of the best beer bar servers I have come across.
Only complaint - I wish it were closer to my home. Although, it would probably mean I would have to take out another student loan to finance the more than frequent trips I would take there.
Thanks LB and Ryan for an unbelievable time. Hope to be back soon!
03-15-2010 21:50:26 | More by seanboley
5/5 rDev +9.2%
A few years ago, after reviewing The Great Lost Bear, I got an email from a guy named Chris up in Lovell. In the email he suggested I try his place, Ebenezer's, because it had everything I could want. As luck would have it, my wife and I were in the area for a wedding the next week, and we spent a more than enjoyable Saturday afternoon with Chris. Since then, despite the two hour drive, we've been back to Ebenezer's several times. Chris and his wife Jen are the best hosts I've ever encountered, and Ebenezer's has a comfortable, homey feel to it.
The Lion's Pride translates quite well from Lovell to Brunswick. It's located on the main drag entering town, easily accessable from the highway. It has ample parking. The exterior is not that attractive, but the inside has been beautifully done. You enter into a main dining room, with an atrium-type room off to the left and the bar to the right. Wood floors, warm colors on the walls. The bar is a beautiful wooden L-shape, with copper top. 35 crystal taps, with the tap selections on a large blackboard overhead. As with Ebenezer's a huge, eclectic, selection, both on tap and in bottles. The food is excellent, and probably a cut above Ebenezer,s.
What will keep me going back, however, are Chris and Jen. They are passionate about their work, take pride in it, and make customers always comfortable.
10-29-2009 11:00:31 | More by lordofthewiens
5/5 rDev +9.2%
One of the best, if not the very best, pub-restaurants I've been to. Ranks with the Hopleaf in Chicago (though a friendlier atmosphere--and that is not intended as a slight to the HL).
Ryan and Leigh are superb managers, knowledgeable, welcoming, and they remember their patrons.
The 35 beers on tap are complemented with a large selection of bottled beers. The emphasis is on Belgian and on Maine brews.
Do not be put off by the unassuming exterior of the place. It reeks of mini-mall, but once inside you realize you have entered a beer maven's heaven.
Oh, by the way, the food and service are out of sight as well.
01-12-2012 01:50:23 | More by DocHoliday
5/5 rDev +9.2%
This is a long overdue review from the Vagabond release party, but the event was more than memorable so I have no trouble writing a review. The scene was set by the Vagabond release, everyone there had just come from Allagash and was very excited, and Chris and his staff greeted everyone with open arms (and rare bottles!).
The draft list included a number of Allagash offerings, Vagabond, Interlude, Confluence, Barrel Aged Black, Hugh Malone, Odyssey. I also enjoyed a Pannepot and a couple other beers I can't get in NH (or many other places). Chris opened a Gargamel, a Ciranza Helena, and a J&J Blauw for everyone to sample, it was great.
The atmosphere was awesome, just what you'd expect from the "urban eb's", lots of beer signs, cool vibe (lots of wood, copper bar, blown glass tap handles, plenty of natural sunlight). The servers were incredibly busy because the place was packed, but they kept their composure and were friendly throughout my visit. I had a reuben and was impressed, and all the other meals at the table looked great as well. I will definitely return.
11-17-2009 22:52:36 | More by rpstevens
5/5 rDev +9.2%
So, I may not be mr. beer advocate, but having grown up in philadelphia and traveled most of the country, i've seen my share of bars and brewpubs.
I happened to pick the right time to return to ebenezer's last weekend (a completely different and absolutely amazing experience) only to find out that chris and jenn's new bar opened 2 days earlier. We stumbled in around noon on sunday and instantly new it was worth the extra driving. There are bars and restaurants that you go to for good food and a good drink. Then there are places like ebenezer's and lion's pride that remind you that there is more to life than what we've become accustomed to.
First off, i have to give them credit for the atmosphere they created. It is clean and fairly upscale but by no means 'snooty'. It is warm and friendly with too many small details to list (but as others have written the tap handles are incredible, the paintings were amazing, and the tanks visible at the entrance put it over the top). Everyone who worked there was friendly and only enhanced the experience.
As far as the beer, i don't see how you could ask for much more. 35 taps with beers that make you look right past the abst 12's and aged big foots. I had a cuvee de jacobins and a de glazen toren. The bottle selection was equally as impressive, with a whole case dedicated to sours. Keep in mind that this place is new and will evolve its selection too, especially when they start brewing with guest brewer's from all over! They just managed to 'throw together' this for the opening. Oh, and as he's known for there was some incredible and ultra rare stuff that chris shared with us.
The food was just right for the place, with solid app's, the ability to get a quality sandwich for $10 (the pork shoulder was marinated for 9 hours and very nice) and entree's (which i didn't have so won't comment on). They gave us some house made gelato as well which you should definitely try. The menu too will evolve as the restaurant does and i can't wait to see what it's like in a year or 2.
Overall, you can't ask for a better bar. They really poured their heart and soul into the place, and while ebenezer's will always be my favorite, one of the servers said it right by calling lion's pride an 'evolution'.
07-07-2009 03:36:11 | More by mightyatom
4.95/5 rDev +8.1%
The sister bar to the world renowned and remote Ebenezer's, The Lion's Pride is also certainly worth the haul from all parts.
Hand-made woodwork fits up the bar area with custom blown-glass tap handles, a copper top bar, reproductions of brewing artwork, and vintage tins. Coolers stand at attention, bellies full of rare lambics and Geuzes.
A tap-spanning chaulkboard spills out a drooling variety of Belgian draughts, leaving one bewildered and thirsty.
Earthy colors, inviting woodwork, and warm lighting round out the interior.
The night we visited Chris Lively the owner was there presenting a night of Lambics. A variety of rare, hard-as-tacks and funky as farmyard spontaneously fermented beers were sampled including:
Upland Peach, Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Kiwi, Allagash Resurgam Gueze, Red Framboise, and Koelschip with cherries, Jolly Pumpkin Bier de Mars Grand Reserve, Luciernaga Grand Reserve, 3F J+J Blau, and Millenium Gueze.
I also enjoyed a Brooklyn Flemish Gold and my wife had several St. Bernardus Prior 8 from the taps and were in perfect condition.
Our bartender that night was attentive, friendly, and educated.
As for the food, a plate of blazing, gooey nachos slid by us and looked amazing as well as authentic Belgain Frites.
Chris and Jen Lively have done it again with the Lion's Pride.
An incredible selection with world class hospitality in a gorgeous setting.
03-14-2010 12:54:02 | More by brewandbbq
4.95/5 rDev +8.1%
I live in the New York City area, so my standards for beer bars are pretty high, and I have to say, this might be one of the most exceptional beer bars I've ever been to.
Let's start with the selection: It's truly amazing. At least half (or more) of the taps are beers that you will have a hard time finding anywhere else - rare Belgians, an amazing selection of sours, and really special small batch American craft brews. While they have a handful of standby's that are nearly always on tap, there's plenty of variety to keep things interesting. There's never been a time when I've been to the pub and not had at least a handful of beers that I regretted not being able to try.
Second of all, the service: The couple that runs this place don't just know beer, they are truly educated and passionate about it. They handpick all the drafts, and have good reasons for each of their choices (which they'll tell you about). If you want to really learn something, ask them about sours sometime! Everyone that works there is efficient and pleasant without being saccharine.
The environment is pretty great for the most part. The music is usually good - at the very least, they never play terrible cheesy pop songs. The food is excellent, and the bartenders/waitstaff can suggest pairings. Try the mussels and frites. It's a great place for a nice dinner date, but also functions fine as a casual hang-out. It's not super cheap, but you pay for what you get. You're going to pay a little more for some of the really exceptional beers.
This place has elevated my whole experience and appreciation for beer in ways I'll always be thankful for. In short, Brunswick is seriously lucky to have this place: Lion's Pride ROCKS!
03-08-2011 19:59:22 | More by higgsmax
Ebenezer's Brewpub / Lively Brewing Co. in Brunswick, ME
100 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.