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The Liberal Cup Public House & Brewery

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

33 Ratings
Ratings: 33
Reviews: 26
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 10.72%
Active Beers: 24
Beer Ratings: 161
Beer Avg: 3.84
Taps: 6
Bottles: 0
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

115 Water St
Hallowell, Maine, 04347-1357
United States
phone: (207) 623-2739

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 33 | Reviews: 26 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by sprucetip:
Photo of sprucetip
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%

Located in a cool little town adjacent to Augusta (did I hear someone say Disgusta?), Maine. Several other good restaurants and hip shops within a few blocks of a street running along the Kennebec River.

First time I went there we didn't stay long and I didn't get a really good feel for the place, though it seemed promising. I had the Smelt Camp Strong Ale on that visit, and wasn't very impressed. It was more bitter and less malty than I expected. Not bad, but didn't hit the spot.

Returned and had a couple of 20oz "pints" with dinner. Atmosphere is mellow and pleasant. Attractive wood and brick. Not really big. They have music a couple nights per week. My girlfriend and I both were pleased with the quality of the food. Prices are fair, portions large. She liked that they offered smaller portions of some dishes. Service was good, but I didn't pick anyones brain about beer. Not sure how knowledgeable the staff is, though the barkeep saw me straining to see the beer menu and offered some info, and told me what style a couple of beers were.

Only 6 beers on tap, including one on cask. The cask Bitter was good if not amazing, and I liked the Tarbox Stout as well. They call it a cream stout, though it is labeled an American stout on BA. It's a bit of a hyrbrid, creamy feel but with the sharp roasty flavor of an American stout. Again, not amazing but not bad. Pints, 20oz pints that is, are only $3.75. A sampler consisting of 6 beers of 3 ounces is only $4.50.

I don't know that I'd go out of my way to visit the Liberal Cup, but if in the Augusta area, it's not just your best bet, it's your only one.

sprucetip, Jan 23, 2009
More User Reviews:
Photo of illpass78
5/5  rDev +24.7%

One of my favorite spots on the Maine beer trail. Terrific food, great beer on cask or draft, super knowledgable staff. Go there!

illpass78, Wednesday at 02:03 AM
Photo of TheMaineBeerGuy
4.75/5  rDev +18.5%

TheMaineBeerGuy, Nov 04, 2014
Photo of chalkda01
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

chalkda01, Sep 28, 2014
Photo of bcgeiman
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%

bcgeiman, Sep 25, 2014
Photo of anthony23cippy
3.75/5  rDev -6.5%

anthony23cippy, Aug 02, 2014
Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%

I stopped in here a couple of times this week while up in the area training for work. Brick front building in the center of downtown Hallowell. Exposed brick with lots of warm wood and lots of brewanaria hanging on the walls. 6 house brews on tap with one guest tap well. The beer ranged from decent to good with no real standouts, but no real flops either. Pub grub and comfort food dominate the menu. I enjoyed the pot roast and the burger I had. Prices seem quite reasonable. I would come back if in the area.

johnnnniee, Jul 22, 2014
Photo of costanzo_mike
4/5  rDev -0.2%

costanzo_mike, Jul 20, 2014
Photo of coombski
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

coombski, Mar 29, 2014
Photo of WallyJaz
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%

WallyJaz, Nov 02, 2013
Photo of PJK
4.43/5  rDev +10.5%

The Liberal Cup, located just outside of Augusta, in nearby Hallowell, Maine, is a terrific place. For beers, I had the Ex-Wife Extra Special Bitter, while C. had Dunkel John's Band. Both beers were very much up to snuff. The beers at The Liberal Cup are well worth going out of your way for.

For dinner I had the meatloaf, rolled with bacon, garlic mashed potatoes and spinach. It was hearty and delicious, and we all enjoyed our meals. I really liked this place, not just for the beer and the food, which were both excellent, but also for the atmosphere. It's in an old mercantile building, like a hundred other restaurants in Maine, but the friendliness of the surroundings goes beyond that. The place was quite crowded with locals on a Tuesday night, and I took that as a very good sign.

If you're in the Augusta area you should definitely check this place out.

PJK, May 21, 2013
Photo of GarthDanielson
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%

This is one of my favorite stops in Maine. Just outside of the capital of Augusta, it's pretty easy to get to from the highway. The place is cozy, and the dining areas are split into two sides/rooms, with the bar in the main space you first walk into. They do tours on request, and you can see some of the brewing equipment through the windows at the end of the main room. The staff was friendly and attentive, both with the beer orders and food recommendations. Very tasty grub to go along with some very tasty beers. People sometimes get confused by the list of beers on the back of the menu, which hits over twenty brews. However, on the walls there is a list of the current offerings on their 6 taps (including the cask), so don't fall in love with a beer on the menu until you check the current tap list. Great pub fare, as well as local offerings. The food choices border on comfort food, which is always great. Prices were very reasonable, and this is a great place for people to visit when in the area.

GarthDanielson, Sep 04, 2012
Photo of smakawhat
4.05/5  rDev +1%

Situated in the antique district in Hallowell, right alongside the Kennebec is the Liberal Cup.

Inside you are welcomed to a very warm pub. The building seems to hark back to an older time, there is lots of exposed wood. Ceramic tankards hang above the bar for the regular patrons. Wooden benches, oblong tables, and warm corners abound.

The focus here is on simple but better than average pub food, and of course, beer. It delivers on all fronts.

Lots of the food items are beer centric, from Chicken in Ale, a break apart pot roast that was devine, to beer cheese soup which is real velvety, and plenty of beer battered and fried items (shrimp, clams, chips, you name it).

The beers are also real solid and inviting, and can take you away to a different place. They really picked the right beers to make here for the atmosphere, it suits everything perfectly. They only offer their own, with perhaps one guest tap, and maybe one cask, but who's complaining?

A great place to check out, keep in mind it is VERY popular. I tried in the summer with no luck, and even on a sleepy Saturday in November after Thanksgiving, the place was still quite busy. Give it a shot, but get there early.

smakawhat, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of SevaTse
3.65/5  rDev -9%

Not a bad place overall if you're passing by, but I wouldn't recommend making a destination out if it. The beer I felt was average compared to other brewpubs in the region, and it was not as good as places like Portsmouth or a handful of places in Mass. For food we had beer cheese soup, for which they rotate the beer and cheese on a regular basis, so ours was cheddar and wheat. It was ok at best. However, the fried haddock was above average, but again- if you are nearby, good seafood shouldn't be that hard to find. Their entry in the Maine beer trail states that you don't need to go to England to experience the beer culture, well I wouldn't cancel any British Airways flights with this place in mind, personally.

SevaTse, Jul 15, 2011
Photo of prestoneb
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%

Atmosphere: The Liberal Cup has a nice pubby atmosphere. Warm, friendly and comfortable. It's right in downtown Hallowell, just a few minutes from Augusta. Surrounded by several Antique Stores, gift shops and stuff, makes very quaint placement.

Quality: I got the sampler paddle. Came with six different offerings on tap. Cassk-Kickin' IPA, Dunkel John's Band, (s)Cream Ale, Alewife Ale, Tarbox Stout and... Harp Lager(!?). Yes, THAT Harp Lager. The Brews were good. No complaints there. I'm confused though. It's a brewpub, but a quick BA search shows Cassk-Kickin' IPA & Dunkel John's Band are brewed by Run of the Mill in Saco, ME. Not sure if they're affiliated or not. Harp is brewed by Guinness. Apparently, Alewife & Tarbox are brewed by the Liberal Cup and were fine beers indeed. Though the Dunkel John's Band was my personal favorite.

Service: Good service. Nice and friendly waitress. Made sure I knew which was which on the paddle and everything. No complaints there.

Selection: Pretty average. Six beers on tap. Regular pub grub.

Food: I gotta say, I was pleasantly impressed. Great food, yummy garlic mashed potatoes, great serving size. It's always nice when a pub doesn't skimp on food quality.

prestoneb, Sep 10, 2009
Photo of babyhobbes
3.1/5  rDev -22.7%

I'm on my way home from my brewery tour of New England and figured I should stop here since I'm staying near Augusta. I can't say I'm glad I did.

This is clearly a locals-only sort of place. I was obviously not a local and so, was treated poorly. It's a loud pub, even on a Wednesday night, with lots of regulars screaming to the servers and their friends. The lighting is dim and everything is wood, with beer paraphernalia on the walls. It's a very nice-looking, cozy bar/restaurant. There is a Please Wait to be Seated sign, so I diligently waited, watching the hostess walk back and forth many times, talking to her friends, flirting with the staff...having some soda, before I finally asked her politely if I need to give my name or just sit anywhere. Then, of course, I got seated.

I started with a sampler paddle that included their wheat, stout, porter, bitter, lager and an amber. It was nice to see such a large selection from such a small place. I've been touring New England and even some of the larger breweries don't offer 6 taps. None of them were particularly good, but none were particularly bad. They all tasted like something you'd make from one of those extract kit boxes with no grain addition.

I would have ordered a pint of the wheat had I been offered the chance. Hell, I would have liked some water or some sort of beverage with my meal...but the server just took my paddle, left my dinner and then took off.

I had a fish sandwich, figuring I should go with something simple. It was like any fish sandwich anywhere else.

I wasn't expecting fantastic brews so, the average quality is acceptable to me. There are no other options in the Augusta area, anyway. Where this place really suffers is service. I sat for at least 20 minutes with no beverage at all. I tried to flag down some staff, even asking another server for water or a beer. She just let me know that I was not her table. I certainly wouldn't recommend this place to my friends, and even if in the area, I'd go elsewhere.

babyhobbes, Aug 20, 2009
Photo of kingcrowing
4.05/5  rDev +1%

Went here for dinner and some beer after a long day of exploring Maine. Awesome end to the day.

I got their sample paddle with 6 of their house brews. Quite a selection for such small brew pub. They had everything from a Czech Pilsner to a Nitro Dry Stout along with a cask conditioned ale and a pretty solid IPA. All the beers were quite solid and fairly tasty.

On top of that I got the Down East Ruben, and interesting take on a classic sandwich with a fish twist to it. Very tasty and a good price. Also their beers all come in 20oz glasses so you've always got a nice big glass of good beer! Worth a stop I really enjoyed it!

kingcrowing, Aug 06, 2009
Photo of Yeastcakes
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%

Atmosphere - Small and warm. The pub is on a nice small-town Maine main street. The interior has a low wood beam ceiling. It is a pub that is deeper than it is wide. A nice bar with some stools set away from the bar and the clay kilned mug-club steins hanging from the ceiling.
Quality - I had the IPA (The Old Hallow Ale - a nice play on the town's name) and an cask ESB whose name escapes me. The IPA had a nice American hop flavor and a nice IPA haze to it. The cask was a great room-temp English ale with a nice smooth bitterness and carmel sweetness. I sipped my friend's Alewife Ale and it had a wonderful spiciness and hop flavor to it.
Service - The pub was not that full when we came in but the server was particularly slow. Fortunately we were not in a hurry. The guy at the bar was very quick with the beer though, so it all balanced out.
Selection - They had six beers on tap to include one cask. The menu was standard pub fair.
Food - I got the fish n' chips - my standard pub calibrator. The big portion was a nice crisp slap of haddock on some nice chips. It was a great meal even if it came a little slow.
Overall Impressions - This was a great Maine brew pub that I will seek out if I am ever in the area. They have a great creative streak to their beer names and a nice, small-town location.

Yeastcakes, Apr 06, 2009
Photo of LostHighway
2.68/5  rDev -33.2%

I guess I'm going to be the dissenting voice here.
My wife and I drove to Hallowell today for lunch at the Liberal Cup. In retrospect I probably should have ordered a tasting paddle but their cask bitter sounded good so I ordered a pint (big plus they offer proper pints) of Backhouse Bitter. It was extremely disappointing, two dimensional with virtually no nose and none of the floral and/or fruity complexity a good bitter should offer. My wife had the Smelt Camp Strong Ale which was also devoid of depth.
My fish & chips and my wife's quesadilla were both fairly good and reasonable portions for the money. I was a little disappointed that I wasn't offered malt vinegar for the chips, our server just slammed down a bottle of ketchup and ran off.
Near the end of the meal I mentioned to our server that the bitter really wasn't very good. His response was "So, you don't like our bitter. Well that 's too bad."
I won't be back.

LostHighway, Dec 27, 2008
Photo of ktyson01
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%

Stopped here during a trip to Agusta. If you've been up there in the winter you know there's not much to do so this was a nice find.

Atmosphere: This has a nice pub feel with plenty of seating. In the bar area there is seating at the bar and at high tables around it. There is also a dining room and more seating in the entry. Its all needed as this place gets busy (what else would you do but go to a pub on a cold snowy night).

Service: Our waiter was knowledgeable of the beers they had and even was able to make suggestions. And despite the crowd, kept us well serviced.

Selection: There was 5 of their own on tap and one tap for a guest beer. The guest beer was Allagash dubbel so not a bad choice here.

Food: We had burgers and fries and an appitizer. The food was very tasty and the fries were especially good. The portions were liberal but not rediculously so.

A great visit. A great small town brewpub. Hope to make it here again.

ktyson01, Feb 19, 2008
Photo of spiffysamurai
4.47/5  rDev +11.5%

Walking in this place reminds me of a local at home pub. I would not say it is British or anything, but homely for those of us from Augusta/Hallowell area. The quality of food and beer is out there. I just do not give this rating to anyone but the fact that there is something for everyone from portabellas to steaks adds a bonus for everything. The beer is the same way, they have light beers on tab and dark beers like the tarbox for everyone. The service here is great as well, as someone who goes a lot, its almost like they have gotten to know me personally. The selection is out there too, like i said for the food and beer. The food is good and quite affordable as well.

spiffysamurai, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of lordofthewiens
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%

Nice little place, very cozy. Brick walls, wood floors. You enter a long, narrow room with tables and booths up front, bar back left, more seating back right. A small room for dining is off to the left, before the bar. 2 TVs, a dart board.
Seven selections on tap, written above the bar, and on the menus at the tables. Not a huge selection, but the ones we had (cask IPA, strong ale, and a pilsener) were all very good. They were also a great bargain at $3.00 and $3.50 a pint.
Our server was knowledgable, efficient, and attentive.
The food was quite good, reasonably priced (except for the Maine shrimp dinner which my wife had to have. I'm not complaining; it was great. Most everything, though, was under $10.00, and this was $16.00). Anyway, back on point, the food is very good. Plus, they give you malt vinegar for your fries, which is always a plus with me.
The Liberal Cup is obviously very popular. We got there early, around 5:30PM, and by 6:00PM the place was packed, with people waiting to be seated. Seemed like people knew each other, and were having a good time.
A definite stop if you're in that area.

lordofthewiens, Feb 25, 2007
Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%

The best bar in the area in my opinion. Better-than-average bar-fare food. Nice setup, kind of a dark European pub type place. As far as selection goes, they have around 8 of their own taps and a "guest tap" (recently Geary's Pale Ale), so the focus is on their beers. The selection is limited, but the beers they make are quite good IMO. The stout and the pale ale are the best in my opinion, but all the beers I've tried from them have been decent. They even have their own cask-conditioned beer, which impressed me for such a non-descript bar in a part of the state not known for its bars or brewing. Service has also been good when I've been here (and I'm not just saying that because one of my students works there). The waitstaff seems to have some knowledge and familiarity with the beers made here. If you're in the Augusta-Gardiner area, this is the pub to go to.

MrHurmateeowish, Sep 30, 2006
Photo of HoorayBeer
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%

Met a friend at the Liberal Cup for a couple pints. Downtown Hallowell seems to be an artsy kind of town, so I thought it would be a nice place to sit and drink.
From the outside, you can see all the bottles that someone has collected over the years, local stuff (Shipyard), saw some other craft bottles in racks or in a crevas (Magic Hat, Troegs, Unibreu, Full Sail, etc.) Went to ask the bartender if they had any of these in a bottle to buy, I find that they only sell Miller and Bud in bottles. Kind of a disappointment.
Live music was being played by a guy in front of the bar, a couple tv's on with a baseball of pre season football game on. The live music was over by 10 and most people had cleared out by 11, which was a disappointment.
Had a cream stout and the summer bitter (cask-conditioned), both were good brews. Nothing terribly impressive, good for the price.
Overall not a bad place, would like to go on a busier night when there was more going on.

HoorayBeer, Aug 12, 2005
Photo of villainchiwwin
4.05/5  rDev +1%

nice little main street in hallowell next to the used book store and right near funky slate's restauraunt, the liberal cup has a cozy interior with a bar, a bar-like table behind it, and conventional tables near the entrance. the food menu is nothing beyond the ordinary, just staple pub food and a couple interesting sandwiches. the beer menu, however, boasted 6 or 7 brews on tap in various styles. very impressed with the beer aspect of it, my buffalo wings were nothing to write home about. the atmosphere was relaxed and calm on a sunday afternoon with a ball game on the tv and a few people chillin over a pint. i was impressed with this brew pub for its pub-iness and its tasty beer. the food was applebee's quality, which is to say in the par to sub-par range. i'd need to order an entree to be completely sure about it tho....
if you're near augusta, don't miss it!

villainchiwwin, Aug 08, 2005
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The Liberal Cup Public House & Brewery in Hallowell, ME
90 out of 100 based on 33 ratings.