Novare Res Bier Café


Awaiting 10 Ratings
Novare Res Bier CaféNovare Res Bier Café

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

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

(207) 761-2437 | map

No notes at this time.

Added by indiapaleale on 05-28-2008

View: Beers | Place Reviews | Events
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Reviews: 135 | Ratings: 263
Photo of bluesplit63
5/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

What a score...

A little hidden "Bier Cafe" that only took me and my girlfriend about 20 minutes to find. It is well hidden down an alley if you are not from the area.

A solid 10 page / draft lift. I would say they offered a strong 30 to 35 beers on draft including Dogfish 120 Minute and Pannepot Reserva 2009.

Prices were reasonable. 120 ranging about 12 dollars for an 8 oz pour. Pannepot about the same for a full 12 oz.

Overall a great experience and will definitely be going back.


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Photo of illpass78
5/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
5/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Stumbled upon Novare Res while wandering around Portland on June 26th 2010 and had to check it out. It turned out to be the highlight of my trip.

I was there mid-afternoon and there were just a handful of other customers, maybe 10 inside at the main bar and 6 or so outside on the patio. When I left a few hours later it was starting to fill up as dinnertime was approaching. Atmosphere is very chill, somewhat swanky, old-world style. Lots of brick, wood, a low tin ceiling, cool feeling like an airy beer cellar. Chill groovin' music playing at low volume.

I counted 24 taps and 1 cask, plus a ginormous assortment of bottles available to order. A heavy focus on belgians, maybe half the taps, with german and US brews making up the rest. All of them were primo quality lesser-known brews. Even with me being something of a learned beer snob, there were several breweries I hadn't heard of and I'd previously sampled only 3 or 4 of the brews on tap. Somebody there has spent a lot of time and effort to bring choice European beers to Portland that aren't well-known in the states. Beers on tap ranged from approx $4-10, were served in ideal glassware, and good attention was paid to pouring technique. Excellent presentation.

THERE WAS NO TOKEN MACRO BREW AVAILABLE. Novare Res is a shrine to good beer and I'm glad they've taken the purist stance to avoid contaminating it with sub-par brew. Awesome.

I had a turkey panini for $7 and it was excellent. The menu is small, limited to cheeses, a few appetizers, sandwiches, etc. The food is an accompaniment to the beer (rather than vice versa) and it serves that purpose well.

The staff and service were friendly and attentive, low-key and not overbearing. I took a table by myself where I could focus on the beer and take some notes. The waitress came over only when my glass was nearing empty. I asked for a glass of water and it came in a plain pint glass. I found this highly appropriate and amusing because every beer I ordered came in appropriate glassware with the brewer's logo on it. The water? It's just water, no logo. (Maybe it's one of those things where you'd just have to have been there at the time.)

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Photo of sarita
5/5  rDev +12.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

When Eric decided to leave Massachusetts and head to Portland with a plan to open his own beer bar, I knew the place would be top notch. I was not disappointed when I recently made the trek up there. Not only was it great to visit with Eric, someone who left a lasting impression on us Moan and Dove and Dirty Truth lovers, but it was a fantastic experience all around.
The bar itself is beautiful.. you can tell that a lot of hard work and love was put into that place with all the woodwork, brickwork and welding. The mugroom is breathtaking! Everything is super clean, comfy and nice to look at. The back room w/ the couch, fireplace and dart boards is a really sweet touch.
The menu is awesome. They don't have an oven, so no hot food, but what they do have to offer is lots of meat and cheese, olives, almonds, peppers, bread, salads. num! All high quality, tasty stuff that I love to eat. The beer selection is of course phenomenal.. both the tap and bottle lists. To top it off the prices were affordable.
With a party of 13 our server was great about splitting up everything for us in the end, even in the midst of us all picking out tshirts to purchase. We took up a lot of his time, as well as some of the bartender's time, but both of them kept smiles on their faces and were wicked helpful.
I can't wait for my next trip to Portland because I will definitely be hitting up Novare Res again. I only wish I could have made it for the German fest while I was there. I was a day too early, but the idea of grilled sausage and tasty German beer out on their deck was tempting me to stay longer.

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Photo of millionsuns
4.95/5  rDev +11.2%
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 ESCO138
4.95/5  rDev +11.2%
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 SteveO1231
4.95/5  rDev +11.2%
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!


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Photo of berley31
4.95/5  rDev +11.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Made a return trip to Portland and Novare Res last weekend with my wife and brother, and I felt I had to update my review, even though my last one rated it A+ as well.

I just can't emphasize the excellent experiences I've had at this beer bar. Overall, the place is fantastic. This weekend we spent a couple of hours there on Saturday, and then something like 5-6 hours on Sunday. Everything from the selection, quality, atmosphere is near-perfect, if NOT perfect. Great food options as well; I can't imagine eating wings or other deep-fried foods with a beer selection like this, so the sandwiches, meats and cheeses are really the best option.

But, as I mentioned last time, the real stand-out feature of this place is the service. Anytime I've been there, the bartender has really known their stuff about beer, are great for making recommendations, giving samples, etc. Our bartenders this time were Shahin and Michael (I think...?)... great guys, very friendly; made the experience all the better for us.

Ok, I'll stop gushing about the place. But if there was anything that would make me leave Canada for the U.S., it's this place. And the cheaper beer. And the lower taxes. Ok, three things.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.9/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

We stopped in here for the first time after hearing great things from many people. From the second we walked in, we knew by the atmosphere and vibe that this is a great place.

We then noticed the draft selection they had. 24 Rotating taps, extensive bottled beer list, and seasonal and rare beers to top things off.

This place is truly a beer connoisseur and the bartender was very knowledgeable about all the beers they had available.

This place is slightly off commercial street in a courtyard commons area behind Key Bank and a parking garage. Next time we go up to Portland, we will keep this place in mind.

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Photo of cleeze
4.9/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Now this is how a beer bar should be!!!! I finally stopped in after waiting a long time to check this place out (pretty hard to find!) But well worth the journey.

Atmosphere is right up my alley! Very chill and low key with killer tunes! Some killer hip hop and some great classic rock! I love the long tables. and the bar is really cool.

Service was perfect. Me and my girlfriend reconazined our bartender from somewhere else. She was really chill and knew her shit about beer. I got brooklyn's chocolate stout on tap for only 5$! So tasty! our bartender picked out a really good brew for my girlfriend (can't remember and it's really bugging me!) She was very attentive even though it was kinda busy and we were hinding in the corner.

Selection is best I've seen. I was a huge fan and still am of the bear expecially when I lived in Portland. Hate to say it but this place blows it outta the water.

I didn't get a chance to try the food since I was so caught up in the beer. Some interesting stuff. My girlfriend liked it but nothing that really caught my eye (No WINGS!?!?) haha

Anyways I can't stress how cool this place is. Only if I lived in Portland still!

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.9/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

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Photo of mklatsky
4.88/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

I visited for the first time on Saturday afternoon. While it is snuggled off the street, they have a sign out front and it is easy to find. Eric is a terrific host- made us (there were 13 of us!) feel extremely welcome, and happy to see us.

The atmosphere is perfect- exposed brick, tin ceilings, comfy couches and light colored wood tables and bar. While Novare res is itself below street level, the windows and the light wood keep it bright and airy.

We sampled a multitude of beers, including Mikkeler It's Alive, Lia Fail, Rogue Double Dead Guy, and Route des Epices. The food was great- absolutely enjoyed the meat & cheese platter, and had a terrific Spring sandwich. Filled the tummy, without feeling too full.

I will be back to Portland to enjoy Novare Res, and to visit with Eric again.


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Photo of snafui
4.88/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Visited Novare Res last Saturday, around 1pm. The bar is stunning inside. A lot of hard work and care went into turning what appears to be an old bank into an amazing beer bar. The layout of the bar comfortably holds a lot of people but remains inviting, warm, and cozy. We had a large group of 13 and could all sit together at a table with room to spare.
The quality of the beer and food is top notch. Perfect pours and temps. Clean lines, fresh beer, clean bathrooms. Everything tasted wonderful and was stored and served with care.
The service was fantastic. Our waiter was able to handle our large party pretty well and working the bill out afterward was no problem. The owner, Eric, made our visit truly exceptional by offering a complimentary cheese/meat/olive plate and pulling out some bottles that folks wanted to try for a tasting session, followed by a tour of the building. Eric made us feel very welcome and we appreciate his hospitality very much!
The beer selection at Novare Res is out of this world. As an active BA member we all know whats its like going into a bar and maybe finding 1 thing we haven't tried before and actually want to order. That will never be the case here. His draft and bottle selection is a lively selection of the best beer from far and wide, and new beers to the scene looking for a tasting.
The food menu changes ones perception of pub food. I love a good fish and chips or burger at a pub but was instead delighted by a small but crafted food menu of meat and cheese platters, salads, and small plates of food at great prices! The meny reminds me of why I love craft beer bars. I like tasting small portions of a variety of beers for the flavors and quality, and I feel like the food menu follows that same philosophy. Aside from the complimentary meat and cheese plate, I ordered a sandwich and another prosciutto and cheese plate. All fantastic!
The prices were great for both food and beer. Great value!

I'm trying not to be a fan boy and give all 5s but its a stretch finding a flaw. I guess the only thing I would say is due to the sheer size of our party there was some confusion with lack of silverware early-on and tasting glasses being picked up for cleaning between rounds, but asking for a fork and tasting glass isn't exactly a real downer. Don't know if that's worth a .5 ding on service and I feel bad doing it :(

I wish I could give constructive feedback but I just can't think of anything I would change or want more from Novare Res!
Thanks Eric! We'll be back!

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Photo of Thor-just-umm-Thor
4.87/5  rDev +9.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5

Been here many, many times. A must-stop whenever in Portland. Unfailingly good service and the staff knows their stuff. Beer selection is off the charts with an emphasis on foreign and difficult to find beers. Best times are when it's quiet or slow and you can chat with the super-knowledgable staff about beer. Several times after chatting, they have recommended a beer I had never tried -- and it has always been a winner! Schlenkerla Marzen smoked beer on tap? Great recommendation. Now it's one of my favorites. Novare is just wonderful.

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Photo of BradMacMullin
4.85/5  rDev +9%
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 WanderingFool
4.85/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Novare Res is a beer geeks Nirvana. On one page is a long list of the beers available on tap and in a multi-page, style organized book are all the beers available in bottles. The bottle list had beers I've only heard of and never tried such as a German Gose. The tap list included some rare treats like Brooklyn Cookie Jar and Cantillion Gueze. In addition, the beers are served in the proper glassware including the brewers logo.

The bar feels like you're sitting in a basement instead of the first floor of a building. The windows are high and the sills are covered with empty bottles of amazing beers. The bar snakes around the back end while several long tables fill the middle. I'd guess there's seating for about 60 people. There's no TV and the nondescript music doesn't blast out the conversation with your friends.

I was there on a busy Saturday night and got there early enough to get a seat at the bar. The bar tender was attentive when my glass neared empty and was very knowledgeable about the beers they served.

Half way through my night a woman was admitted to the Challis Club. To join you need to drink 230 beers on a special list within a year. Once you're in the club you get a key to the Challis room and served all your beers in one of these larger vessels. I wish I lived closer so I could take up the challenge. It looks like a very exclusive club.

The limited food menu has several sandwiches and appetizers. There is no hot food. My friends and I ordered a couple cheese and meat platters, which were incredible. They take just as much pride in their cheese and cold cut selection as they do in their beers. If you like fancy cheese you won't be disappointed.

Prices are reasonable considering the quality and selection of beers they carry. Most of the beers on tap were around $6 to $8 with some costing more/less. Bottles ranged from $5 to $40. Spending a couple hours here with friends could easily cost you $50, but you'll enjoy spending every one of those dollars.

In summary Novare Res is a world class beer bar with a fantastic selection of beers at reasonable prices. Food is available, but is not the main focus of this bar. The staff is very knowledgeable about what they serve and passionate about beer.

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Photo of 52mgtd
4.85/5  rDev +9%
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 wyllder
4.83/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I finally had a chance to visit Eric's bar.

As noted by other reviewers, there's been plenty of attention given to atmosphere here in a bank basement turned beer bar. Whether you're in the main lounge at one of the many tables, the back lounge in a comfortable couch, or on the spacious patio at a picnic table, you'll be comfortable. I'm sad that we weren't able to be there for the German fest where we would have been able to eat sausages grilled right on the patio while drinking Uerige Alt on cask. /cry

Quality here is a reflection of the owner, who takes a great deal of personal pride in everything about this bar. All of the cheeses, meats, and snacks are of the finest quality & freshness. The beers are served in appropriate glassware, at appropriate temperature & carbonation levels.

Service takes one of the only hits here, due in part to the size of our party (13) and the relative inexperience of the staff. I'm sure that in another 3-6 months this rating will climb, I only hope to find an excuse to revisit.

Selection is dangerously great, with 20+ tap lines of the best micro, craft, and import beers available. In today's rapidly inflating market, the prices are reasonable.

If you're in Portland and not a regular at Novare Res, you should be. If you're not in Portland, you now have a reason to visit!


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Photo of twelvsies
4.83/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Novare Res, meaning, "to start a revolution". I really like the mission statement of this place, and it's definitely worth reading on the inside of the menu. In a sense, beer is just beer, but, sometimes it can be more, and I like that theory.

This place is off the beaten path, but only slightly. Perfect secluded location off Exchange St, look for the little tent sign on the sidewalk. The entry is at street level but when inside it feels like you are in an old cellar. Except this one is an awesome cellar filled with delicious beer. Handsome bar and nice long Oktoberfest style tables for communal scwhilling and meeting people. Extra lounging room off to the side w/ comfy couches, darts, and art by the staff etc. Also a great deck outside complete w/ service and also the "Bier Barn" featuring cheap draughts and craft beer in cans. They also have a cornhole set that you can use out there if it's not too crowded. Lots of beer signage, schwag, and emptied bottles from all corners of the globe along the walls. At first I was disappointed in the lack of TV for sports but I get their reasoning, and now embrace it. Essentially, this place is well set-up to enable maximum beer drinking pleasure, and the vibe is just great.

Novare clearly pays a bit of extra attention into the quality and execution of beer slinging. Always a nice selection of glassware and it's always very clean, which I really appreciate. Another technique they use is patient pours with the headier Belgian beers. Often I see extra glasses set up behind the taps for the purpose of letting the foam settle, and then blending that back into your pint. Some people are impatient but personally I will gladly wait an extra 3-5 minutes to have a healthy, perfectly poured pint. They really take care in the art of the pour here, I like this. Also, the bartenders have all been really friendly and interesting folks that are up for chatting about beer or anything really, and are always willing to give you a taste or offer a suggestion of something unusual.

As for the beer selection, it's very well put together and is a great representation of lots of different styles and countries. Local flavor is always apparent, often with unique offerings from Allagash, Marshall Wharf, Maine Beer Company, etc. Great selection of Belgian and German beers both on draught and bottled. The classics are there as well as lesser known rustic saisons, unfiltered German lagers, and other odd-balls. Good smattering of craft breweries emerging from other parts of the country too, like Denmark, Norway, Spain etc. The best part of the selection is that it varies frequently. This is key. And the website draught page is usually pretty up-to-date. If I had to gripe I would say I'd occasionally like to see a bit more English flavor a la Ridgeway Bitter or something like that. Though they do have great cask selections usually once a week.

Another of my favorite Novare features is their penchant for throwing beer events. It seems like at least once a month they will feature a particular brewery or beer style and make that the theme for a day or even stretch it to a longer period like the recent "Belgian Fest" where all the draughts were Belgian for three weeks. The Allagash-a-ganza was awesome as was their 2nd Anniversary party, and my favorite being a month of rotating Mikkeller Single Hop IPAs on draught available in flights. Such a cool idea to be able drink in a focused theme. You get the idea...

They have a unique approach to the food menu here as well. Don't expect your typical pub-grub (not that there's anything wrong with that!). It is mainly a snacking menu (but you could have a filling dinner here too), featuring a smorgasbord of meats and cheeses at a reasonable $3 a pop. Perfect pairing to beer. Several appetizers, which are all great (that I have tried) and some awesome sandwiches and salads. I like to see stuff made with beer on the menu such as Cantillon pepper jelly. Awesome.

In a nut shell the bar is just an ideal setting to eat drink and be merry. It's the winning combination of an obviously great beer selection with creativity and a real publican ideal. Like the great state of Maine motto, it's "The Way Life Should Be".

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Photo of mmonagh1
4.83/5  rDev +8.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Novare Res makes me glad I live in Portland. It is a great place to go for beers and some light food after work, on a weekend day or before a nice meal at one of Portland's many great restaurants. Also, don't know why, but this bar is a great place to hang out when it is pouring rain or snowing heavy outside. Great space. Unique. Much brick and stone but warm feeling. Basement feel but with windows along one wall to an old New England brick landscape.

Awesome beer selection. Good food too - lighter plates that compliment, without overwhelming, the beer. It is about the beer. Owned by a nice, friendly, young family. A comfortable place for all.

The staff will help you find the perfect beer for you. The beer selection has more of a European focus than most places, but they always have some good American ales like Rogue and Dogfish Head as standbys.

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Photo of mlazzaro
4.8/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Hands down my favorite public place to drink beer. I like that it's a hole in the wall kind of place. Usually not difficult get a seat or get served. Always awesome beer selection. Naheed (sp?) the bartender is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. Usually serve in proper glassware. They have the most exciting gems in the beer list. Perhaps a bit pricey, but bars usually are. As long as we get what we desire and have good service, I'm happy. And the food is great beer food. Nothing too fancy.

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Photo of slander
4.8/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

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Photo of joepais
4.8/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Can't say enough about this place .Warm, friendly, great selection of brews on tap and the bottle list goes on and on. I ordered one brew and the server didn't know much about it he tracked down the owner and had him give me a description of it. The only downside is I wish they had some food to go with the fine brews so I could talk the wife into staying for more than a couple brews. It really is dangerous to send them out to all the shops while you sit there and drink. Although you maybe pretty happy when you leave there so It might not matter

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Photo of zamboni1
4.8/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

I'm not a tourist but not a Portlander either, and Novare is one of my go-to places in Portland. Really like everything about this place: the atmosphere (12 degrees below zero in the dead of winter as well as hot & humid summers on the big hops-laced beer garden / deck), the selection, the clientele, and the staff.

The bottled beer selection is great and the draughts are fresh (super-clean tap lines!) and are rotated very frequently. Check their website for the latest draught lineup -- as others have said here, they update their list online faithfully (seemingly daily). Prices are a bit high *for Portland* but are still lower than any comparable place in Boston, Burlington, Providence, or NY. I've always -- and I mean always -- found the staff very helpful and engaging and have been recommended some amazing beers I would not have otherwise tried on my own. They know their stuff and will share their knowledge if you're not a jerk.

Yes, they do a 2-day Octoberfest fun thing where they have but two O-fest beers on tap and served in 1 liter maas mugs. Surprised some people find that annoying; most of us sorta regulars look forward to it and take it in the fun spirit in which it's intended. Novare also does other events nights / weeks that are cool: Caskfest, Smuttfest, Belgian Bier Fest, Roguepalooza, and so on.

I like me my Novare a lot and appreciate it for what it is -- one of the top beer bars in my state of Maine.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.78/5  rDev +7.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

If you are in Maine you need to stop reading this and go to Novare right now... What's better?? The beer, the atmosphere or the help? Wait also the music.

What a treasure in Portland. The beer selection is fantastic and with plenty of Belgian offerings... We enjoyed some snacks that were fantastic and beautifully presented. Very authentic.. All glassware matched offerings and serving temp was perfect. The help could not have been better. And this was before we spent a great deal of time with the owner. (Eric) Their friendly nature and generosity bordered on obscene.
In addition to the phenomenal Belgian collection they have a nice selection of German beers and also some great local micro's on tap...
A must stop with no close second in Portland.
Novare & Eric. Thanks for a memorable night... I shall return and send as many others as I can..

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Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
3.8 out of 5 based on 5 ratings.
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