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Novare Res Bier Café

Your Rating: None
Novare Res Bier CaféNovare Res Bier Café
5 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

BA Score:
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Ratings: 269 |  Reviews: 135
Photo of Harrypotter7
1/5  rDev -77.7%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 1 | selection: 1 | food: 1

Not great.

10 characters

Photo of j_hollings13
1/5  rDev -77.7%

Photo of SenatorSpaceman
2.15/5  rDev -52%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 1.25 | selection: 1.75 | food: 2.5

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

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

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

 831 characters

Photo of growler
3.18/5  rDev -29%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5

I really wanted to like this place. I came up to Portland for a long weekend. The service was horrendous and uneven. After my husband was about barely halfway through his 1st drink, the male bartender was hounding him for his next drink. However, after I had barely 2 sips left in my drink, no one would come near me. The bartenders were too busy socializing with presumed regulars. Not only that, I noticed they had a computer in the corner of the bar and we playing music from it, but they were also spending way too much time online. Since I was facing the computer, I noticed the familiar BA logo and the male bartender was pointing something out to female bartender. Normally I wouldn't care, but when I have to practically wave an empty glass around to get service. I was also sitting at one end of the bar where I was able to make eye contact or at least attempt. I think it was 4:30 on a Friday and maybe 15 customers in the whole place.

The atmosphere is cool, not too much light. Long tables inside, with maybe 10-15 bar seats. Selection was good, both tap and bottles. I had the Smuttynose Brett & I and Allagash Burnham Road. I would visit again if in the area, in hopes they have learn to step up the service. If I want potential crappy service, I can go somewhere in Boston and not drive 2 hours.

 1,312 characters

Photo of dfecteau
3.21/5  rDev -28.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.25 | service: 3 | selection: 3

Photo of taeagan
3.4/5  rDev -24.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

A remarkable space for a beer bar. The indoor and outdoor spaces are done really well. A comfortable place to sit and have a beer and hang out even when busy.

The draft selection is very good, though it's the bottle list that really impresses. Love that they're really promoting a great bottle list.

The food is very tasty, though there is not much of a selection at all. Beer and food prices are pretty reasonable.

So basically I really loved this place, except...

The awful service. So bad we had to laugh about it. We were invisible. We were almost done with our food when the beers finally arrived - and we ordered the beers ten minutes before the food. The glasses of water that we asked for showed up with the check. The next day we went back and didn't get a whole lot better.

If they did something about the service and added a few more choices to the menu this place would be an east coast beer destination.

 925 characters

Photo of vonnegut21
3.47/5  rDev -22.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 2 | selection: 4

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

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

 486 characters

Photo of mclaughlindw4
3.5/5  rDev -21.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I have been here often and unfortunately do not agree with the high rating it has received. Many of my complaints are mentioned in other reviews but somehow those reviews still end up giving high marks. Perhaps I am spoiled because I used to live in brunswick and frequented the lions pride often.

I guess I feel the tap list is extensive but does not usually have more than a couple beers I actually want to drink. The biggest issue for me is the service. The waits are long even when it is a quiet day. I don't think I have ever been asked how I was enjoying a beer nor do I feel the bartenders are interested in talking about it anyway. I have had issues getting samples that were more than just a quarter shot glass full of foam. I am glad I know what I like and can order what I need but I can't imagine going in there as a newbie and getting any sort of quality direction from this staff.

All this being said they are the only game in town as far as beer
bars go and I do appreciate that. The events are often well worth attending as well.

 1,049 characters

Photo of TXHops
3.53/5  rDev -21.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

The other reviewers have explained the charm and the great selection of this place and they're all right. I'd personally like to see more local beers but the international selection was great and unusual. However, I'll never return as we had the absolute surliest waiter I've ever had in my entire beer drinking existence. Slow with orders, beyond short with answers, put out by every question or order, rolling eyes when I wanted another round... The place wasn't even crowded. Being this rude goes beyond standard apathy and requires real effort, which is utterly unfathomable. It's too bad- he completely ruined my experience at a place that I was really looking forward to trying.

 684 characters

Photo of mendvicdog
3.61/5  rDev -19.4%
vibe: 3.25 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

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

Would return if they have a better taplist.

 212 characters

Photo of luddy83
3.69/5  rDev -17.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5

I found the execution of the design to be a bit on the low rent side. There are some nice touches (taps behind the bar, the beer cooler) but also plenty of cheap touches (cabinetry at the back bar, bar stools uncomfortable due to them being very industrial with a totally flat seat, tables are utilitarian).

I found the service very bad. I tried to get the bartender's attention on a slow night and had no luck. I asked a question of the waitress who seemed shocked someone wanted to ask a question. She warmed up a bit later and was reasonably helpful in selecting a beer. She seemed knowledgeable. Later, when we tried to engage her for our next choice, she passed us off to the surly bartender, who seemed just released from military basic training and lacked all social graces.

When I tried to get the person's attention who was fiddling with the music by taking a step around the bar, I was accosted by the barman in a very belligerent manner--mind you, I'm no terrorist at 55 and generally mild mannered. He put his hand on me and I politely asked him to remove it and all he could do was parrot, "Get away from the back of the bar." It all left a rather sour taste in my mouth, I finished my beer, asked for the check, and left. I won't be in a hurry to return.

The bottled beer menu is well organized by category but the draught menu is merely a listing with alcohol content and amount poured. If you are trying to educate the uninitiated, more information would be helpful.

 1,486 characters

Photo of opwog
3.7/5  rDev -17.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I had to grab a late dinner when arriving in Portland and saw that NR was rated well on BA and on Yelp. There seemed to be some confusion initially upon arriving of whether the kitchen was open or closed (different hours on the phone while parking, than 5 minutes later after walking in).

The pros: The food was really tasty and the beer selection was good. The prices were also good for both.

The cons (which I mention in hopes that these might change):

1) If the Red Sox are in the playoffs and somebody asks if there is a TV to watch the game in one of the rooms, the reply should not be; "it is all about the beer here." You serve mainly unshaven community college kids in pseudo-vintage t-shirts that they bought at Target. You are not above having a TV set showing the Red Sox game. I have been to half of the top beer bars in the US and all of them have TV sets.

2) If somebody's GF does not want beer and needs a second to look at the wine list (as short as it is), do not leave her for another 15 minutes having to flag wildly to get her order in while the bar is half empty.

3) Loose that "hot chicks and douchebags" soundtrack playing in there. I do not say that as the grumpy old guy, but as somebody equally aware of what far better music is readily available over that guitar-centric BS that reminded me of my worst night having to sit through that dude from Lacuna Coil.

I might be busting balls in this review, but the beer, food and prices are what is right about this place. The rest of this place should be redone from scratch because the crowd that I saw in there are the type who may write you up on Yelp today, but will move on to "farm to table" dining to impress their fake ID dates next year. You need to build a beer bar that will hold interest of the beer community and make members of that community want to come back and spread the word to others. That is far more important in a business model than temporary hipness.

 1,960 characters

Photo of MaineBirdMan
3.7/5  rDev -17.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 2

My friends had told me to look for the "beer garden." My wife and I found the place last Friday night. My wife loved the place (even though she doesn't drink). I was satisfied with the place. I was expecting something a little more. The beer selection was awesome and the way they had the menu set up was excellent. I was excited to see they had a stout from Orkney,Scotland. I was in Scotland in 97 and remember this stout quite fondly. So I was eager to have it again. "Sorry, we don't have that one." Bummer. My wife wanted one of their non-alcoholic beers, "Sorry we don't have that one." Bummer. She settled for a ginger beer. The bartender was nice enough but not very up on his beers. There was one bartender (he said he was persian) who was excellent. We didn't try any of the food. The cheese selection looked fine and there seemed to be some nice pairings. We were never asked if we wanted any food. I guess I should have gone out of my way and asked. I mean, I am the one paying the bill. I might go back. I won't go out of my way to get there.

 1,055 characters

Photo of mcintire78
3.75/5  rDev -16.3%

Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.93/5  rDev -12.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5

So I normally don't rate places I only go to once, but I feel I must in this case. Overall the selection is great but the customer service is not great.

Atmosphere: cool vibe in brick, dark lighted 'cave' like bar very cool for beer geeks. Overall the people in there seemed ok but a little on the not so beer informed side, it was a Tuesday night afterall.

Quality/service: the bottles look stored well, most of the taps were ok but here's where personal experience comes in: my friend orders a my Antonia (dogfish) on tap and it comes out extremely oxidized and not true to the beer any of us knew. We told the server we had and she was super defensive about it although we spent enough and bought bottles expensive and rare enough that they should have known we knew what we were talking about. Would not replace or give a refund for it. Not cool, if you ask me, even at the super expensive beer bars I've been to everywhere they would take back and probably ackowledge old taps, give a refund or another beer, not the case here. Overall service was spotty and was not friendly even when we tried to engage on a beer level. Quality of the cantillon 2005 guezue was excellent though.

Selection is outstanding, cool tap choices from the world and local plus a great bottle selection. Check out the website for yourself here. Would have liked a bit more Midwest and west coast selection but perhaps thats the state laws?

Overall great beers for the most part, not caring service. Would try again and hope for better results/ ask for tastes if they do that for hoppy stuff.

 1,576 characters

Photo of Sammy
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.

 562 characters

Photo of cshafer7
4/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of donkeyrunner
4/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Been here many a time. Some thoughts on Novare Res:

The servers have a laissez fair attitude towards service and they'll get to you when they get to you. On a lazy afternoon that's not a bad thing.

Atmosphere is nifty. It’s like a beer cellar. Drinking beer in a beer cellar is indeed nifty.

A bit pricey considering Sebago and Gritty's are right down the street and Great Lost Bear is a few minutes car ride away. Novare does have a better Belgian selection than all three combined though. Sort of a mini Ebenezer's.

I went here once during Octoberfest and in the traditional German manner NR only had 1 festbier on tap. All taps, one beer. That sucked at the time but if I was a local I think it's pretty neat.

A bit of Cambridge has seeped up into downeast Maine as a lot of the stronger or hard to find beers come in 10oz. servings. I hate that. I'm a big boy and I want a big boy glass of beer.

 911 characters

Photo of dancaplette
4.03/5  rDev -10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

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

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

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

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

 827 characters

Photo of morebeergood
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.

 1,737 characters

Photo of mig100
4.04/5  rDev -9.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Photo of brewandbbq
4.06/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Hidden off an alleyway in the Old Port, Novare Res finds it's home in a converted bank space. The nature of the locale is reminiscent of many Belgian cafes, being off the beaten path and only found by those knowing or on the hunt.

Two hand-made bartops, plenty of woodwork and brick, and rustic colored concrete floors.
A serarate room houses dart boards, couches, and a brick fireplace that will definately have to be utilized during the long, cold Maine winters.
One of the vaults now houses the extensive bottle selection, with another vault to be later converted to hold extreme rarities. Very cool.
Another room has a wrought iron gate which will house exclusive goblets for the select few who sample and keep record of the 230 (and growing) beers available. Quite a "mug club", indeed.
Definately sporting an inviting, cozy vibe, even though the place was vacant when we arrived.

Expecting some unusual and premium Belgian specialties on tap, we were a bit dissaponted to find only one Belgian-style draught. High and Mighty Dubble. A chaulk board on the wall informed us that it was "American Beer Week". Ahhh..That explains it. Decent enough selection of domestic crafts though. Old Raspution for $6.50 for a full pint. We like full pints of big beers, which few and far places are pouring anymore.
Other Pints were $5, which I still think is high. Maybe not for Boston, but this is Portland, Maine.
The bottle list is extremely extensive, and extremely expensive. Basically looks like all the bottles are retail cost x2. Yikes..BFM 2007 Abbey De Saint for $44.00? Gulp.

We didn't sample any food, and the menu is limited to snacks of cheese, meats, and sandwiches. All of which sounded pretty damn tasty.

The owner, Erik was there, and when I inquired about any DeStruise beers, he piped up and informed us he has a keg of Black Albert out back to be tapped at a later date.
Keep an eye out, peeps.
The barkeep who waited on us was friendly and eager to please. Nice guy, and that counts for a lot in my book. I don't go out enough to deal with barkeeps with attitudes.

My only real annoyance with the place is the fruit fly issue they have. That needs to be taken care of, and fast.

We'll definately be back in the future and hopefully the Belgians will be back with the fireplace roaring.
Best of luck to Novare Res!

 2,338 characters

Photo of polloenfuego
4.08/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of chuckd123
4.08/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Visited 3 separate times during a weekend in Portland. Absolutely fantastic atmosphere and every bartender was very knowledgable and helpful. First night we stopped in their keg room refrigeration had konked out, leaving them with only 5 on tap. Bottle selection made up for it and then some, with some amazing choices. Next day all taps were up and running and selectino was excellent from about 25 taps. Selection as you'd expect leans toward belgians, but taps included a couple of IPA's and a good mix overall. Bottle list is very impressive, and bartenders were happy to talk about any and all of them, and explain the ones we weren't familiar with. Great place, and considering it's only been open a couple of months, you have to think it will only get better. Well done!

 777 characters

Photo of Digimaika2
4.08/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Visited this place twice on back-to-back weekday evenings in early August 2011. The place has a pretty huge outdoor patio (that was packed both visits) and an inside area that resembles a medieval beer cellar, complete with display bottles, long wooden tables, belgian beer plaques, and lots of brick! Probably worth a visit just to check the inside out.

Quite an extensive beer list with representation from all the good beer countries. I ended up venturing to Sweden and Italy off the menu. Unfortunately, the two days I was there were the two days leading up to their annual Rogue tap takeover. There were only about 10 taps going, and most were Maine staples which isn't bad at all but was hoping to try some belgians on-tap. Would love to go back when they have all 25 taps going.

As the outdoor patio was packed, and our server was working both inside and outside tables, the service definitely suffered for us inside both nights we were there. I remember it took us quite a long time to grab the bill from our waitress at the end of the night. However, both nights the staff seemed quite pleasant and helpful.

Tried some of their food one of the nights and went with the Mediterranean Plate and a Vegetarian Sandwich. Decent food albeit it is more small plate/appetizer sized portions.

Prices were a little steep, both for food and beer I thought. However, for beer it can be justified to some extent for some of the more rarer and special products.

I'd like to return again to try a more extensive variety of belgian product on-tap. I'll just have to check first that there are no tap takeovers planned the night before my visit.

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Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
Brewery rating: 3.02 out of 5 with 5 ratings
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