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Mama's Crowbar

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12 Ratings

Type: Bar

189 Congress St
Portland, Maine, 04101-3621
United States

(207) 357-7678

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Added by HopHeadRed on 07-01-2010

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Ratings: 12 |  Reviews: 8
Photo of Jones22z
4.68/5  rDev +12%

Photo of dunix
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of PalatePilot
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of PressFastF0rward
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of thebeerbabe82
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4

Mama set out to create not just another bar in a neighborhood of Portland (Munjoy Hill) but rather one that was actually lives up to the label of being a neighborhood bar. To that end, she's definitely accomplished that.

The bar is relatively small, with probably about 10-12 chairs at the bar, and standing room and some additional seats along the side, jukebox in the back - personally I love the tin ceilings that reflect the lights around the bar and create a kind of almost glowing atmosphere.

The tap list is small, but intelligently chosen and not super trendy. The beers are locals that you will just straight up enjoy - Allagash Black, etc. - and are served up at a reasonable price. They also have 'Ganset lager in cans (a favorite with locals) and other bottled brews for you to pick from. No crap brews, either, just well made beer.

It's an oasis from the typical "craft beer bar" experience that's becoming common through town - with higher prices and more exclusivity. Mama's is a bar that you walk into and you feel like you belong there - whether it is your first time there or your fiftieth. It's also the kind of place that you want to keep your own - but that new people are always welcome to.

The people behind the bar are an interesting bunch, all have their share of stories. I've never once had an unpleasant service experience - usually the bartenders and/or Mama herself (Tricia) will quickly grab your beer and ask you how you're doing or what's new - and they genuinely give a shit! That's so much better than some of the trendier places where you put in an order for a drink and it shows up 20 minutes later without a word being said.

Mama's Crowbar hosts poetry readings, open mic nights, comedy acts and are active in supporting local artists, musicians and events. They are an integral part of the community, and I hope that nothing ever happens to the place. The staff are not afraid to speak their minds, either, and don't tolerate anyone who might be disrupting the community in or around the bar - making it an even safer and more comfortable place to be.

This is the type of bar that others should aspire to be - but probably can't actually live up to. It's just special.

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Photo of slander
4.16/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Had stopped up earlier and found the little closed sign window, and sad, I did depart. Went elsewhere about town and ran across some people in the Portland know who asked, “Well have you been to the Crowbar?” Told my tale of no and Johnny recommended I get back up on the hill again, using, “There might be girls there knitting listening to The Cult” as a scene descriptor. Um...

Returned some hours later and a found a couple of ladies parked in chairs out front; I guess this must be place. It’s a dimly lit ground floor place so I will adjust to adjusting. To the right, a 10 seat worn plank wood top ‘L’ bar, with a nearly striped lip, wood plank base, and clunky foot box; seating for 10 on swivel back leather stools. A large Harp mirror on barback center, with shelving pieces to both sides housing Boyland soda glassware, bottled selections, books, etc. Tap selections & pricing listed on a ‘beer only, cash only’ board. Discs in a rack on the barback and a basket of, um, Little Lad’s herbal popcorn. Glassware stacked to both sides of the tap towers on the bar, and a few mugs hang above.

White tile floorings, low pressed tin ceiling panel drop fauxness with spinning top lamps in a row over the bar, drop spots about the room, and strung white baby lighting on the barback. Slat wood walls in red and a lot of yellow over darker lowers. The windows barred, with a bunch of crows; the girl next to me says it’s some hipster shit. Beer signage & tinnings on the far wall, along with framed pics from open mic/slam poetry Monday nights. And a Budweiser neon with nothing but 3 of the middle letters lit looking a whole lot like the word ‘dive’. Don’t know if that’s intentional or just accidentally awesome. A few hightop chairs on the far wall, and a single raised roundy in the front corner. And there’s something casket-ish in the middle of the room. A shelving piece holds books & games, darts in the front corner, and a juke to the rear (though we’re getting play list stuff just now). And there’s a small outdoor space, yo, small, small.

6 taps on 2 upright cylinder towers on the bar, 3 & 3. All American craft and pretty damn local (Allagash Black & Bourbon Black, In’finiti Blonde Ale, Bunker Machine Pils, Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale, Sebago Frye’s Leap IPA). I had the Oxbow Farmhouse Pale Ale, In’finiti Blonde Ale, & (uh oh, 3rd beer, whoopsie) Bunker Machine Pils. Beers were in verrry good shape. All drafts are $4 during happy hours and $5 - $6 else time, save the Allagash Bourbon at $8.

And the bottles shelved behind the bar; local (Maine Brewing), regional (Smuttynose, Clown Shoes, Cisco, Narragansett, Six Point, Victory, DogFishHead, Flying Dog), craft away (Stone, Lagunitas, Green Flash, North Coast, Mission,), something san glut (New Planet), and a cider (Original Sin). At least two dozen in all.

Talked with some good folks, including some kids from Indiana out here for beer. They’ve got some characters here, uh huh, and it’s getting a shitload more interesting as we go. Mother-daughter owned, apparently the latter worked here previously. Karma pints board up front; I do like. Very cool scene. A slight tight tap list, while also being a seemingly pretty big Narragansett house This is where the locals hang ‘cause they know best.

 3,323 characters

Photo of FrankLloydMike
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I've been to Mama's Crowbar on two occasions now, and it's become one of the places I most look forward to visiting in one of my favorite New England cities.

Nestled in the dark, cozy basement of an old house on Munjoy Hill, Mama's Crowbar exemplifies a neighborhood beer bar. A fake tin ceiling offset by glittering string lights, a collection of books and games to use in house, a line of stools along the bar, and a few more around barrels used as tables, and a board listing the tab of regulars lend this place an incredibly relaxed, homey vibe.

Service is good, informed and attentive, but never overbearing, and the only food available seems to be bags of popcorn. I'm not sure if you can bring your own in if you get hungry, or if you have to leave for a meal.

The beer list here is short, but spot-on: about six taps, all from Maine on my last visit, complemented by several more bottles and cans, with many more from Maine and New England. Beers on-tap in my latest visit included two from Allagash (Black and Blonde), MBC MO, Rising Tide Daymark, Bunker Mild, and an Oxbow. The most expensive draft was $8 (MBC), but most were $5 and the Oxbow was a painfully reasonable $4. On a Saturday night, they had a special on a can of Baxter Amber and a Dogfish Head Raison d'Etre for $3 each. The list may not be long, but with such a good lineup and such reasonable prices, I could happily work with it all night long.

 1,425 characters

Photo of Jason
3.93/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Hit this place up last year, tail end of the night after brewing with Allagash for Belgian Beer Fest and going to a few other places beforehand. This is a perfect late night spot, no frills divey joint that has some of the urban hipster kick to it ... thankfully not too much. ;-)

We ordered rounds of Allagash, Main Beer Co & Narraganset. Tight list of beers, nothing too geeky but that late we weren't really looking for something to wow or kill our palates. Prices we good, staff was friendly ... the owner as well.

Highly recommended for some late night drinking.

 569 characters

Photo of girltuesday
4.44/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

The sign above the door says it all: beer. friends. music. prose.

Located most of the way up Congress Street, Mama's Crow Bar is a welcomed detour from the well-beaten path of the Old Port. Located in the former Awful Annie's location, Mama's offers a little something for everyone: a solid selection of local craft brews. Taps regularly feature selections from Maine's craft-brew darling, Allagash, as well as an impressive (and ever changing!) bottle list all at great prices. Mama's is one of the only places I can think of that regularly stocks Maine Beer Co.'s fantastic but hard-to-find Zoe. Given its size, Mama's packs a punch with its offerings. As it continues to establish itself among beer aficionados, I would expect the selections--especially local--to expand.

But the appeal of this small bar does not begin and end with the beer: throughout the week, Mama's offers a wide range of entertainment, including $1 Piano Request Night, punk bands, Irish jam sessions, poetry readings, and knitting circles, as well as a host of board games.

Mama's offers the sort of effortless ease you want in a neighbourhood bar: authenticity. Not surprisingly, owner Tricia Henley has amassed an impressive base of loyal regulars, but she's done a terrific job of creating that just-so atmosphere makes everyone--new friends and old--feel at home when they're at Mama's.

[A side note: I believe Mama's is a cash-only bar and they do not serve spirits. For information about entertainment Mama's is on both twitter and facebook. Tricia usually tweets/posts entertainment information.]

 1,588 characters

Photo of sogrady
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Probably my favorite beer bar in Portland. Novare gets all the press, and not without reason: their selection is excellent and the venue is perfectly situated. But because of all that, Novare is also crowded more or less permanently. And not by enthusiasts.

Mama's Crowbar, on the other hand, is off the beaten path up Munjoy Hill towards the Eastern Prom. What used to be Awful Annie's - a truly creditable dive bar - has been transformed by its new owner into a warm, comfortable neighborhood bar.

That just happens to have a really excellent, hand picked beer selection. They'll have the basics in beer for you, for sure, but those in search of something a bit more refined can indulge in products of the finer craft breweries, like an Allagash.

One last word on the space: if you've ever been to the Littlest Bar in Boston, Mama's Crowbar is going to look very familiar. If you haven't, well, the name will give you a hint. As a neighborhood bar, Mama's has its share of regulars, but we've always found somewhere to sit.

Out of all the fun I've had while out in Portland, I don't think I've enjoyed anything more than drinking Curieux at Mama's, listening to the céilidh band that plays there weekly. It might not be the place for everyone, but it's certainly the place for me. Maybe it is for you too.

 1,316 characters

Photo of Kinsman
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3

This was the last place I hit yesterday with Jason, Todd, Rob and Jason from Allagash, and fellow BA "cjbmcdon".

This is a relatively new spot heading out towards Portlands East End. It's not a specialty beer bar, but serves a better than average selection of mostly local brews including Allagash Black on tap. The owner also proudly refuses to serve PBR, but instead has pounders of Narragansett and Ballantine.

It was a Tuesday night, so it was quiet but not dead. We all had the chance to try Zoe from Maine Beer Co, and after having my first Peeper earlier in the day, I'm definitely looking forward to more from them as they grow.

Overall a nice local bar to visit if the the main drag of the Old Port is too much for you.

 734 characters

Photo of mdavis31481
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

The former Awful Annie's sure isn't awful anymore. Mama's (or the Crow Bar, depending on your preferred abbreviation) is THE beer destination on Munjoy Hill. For those not familiar with the area, Munjoy Hill is about a mile from Downtown/the Old Port; it's a fun, eccentric neighborhood made all the more enjoyable by the arrival of Mama's.

The bar can be found just beyond the bottom of the hill as you begin your ascent. An attractive wooden placard displaying a crow hangs above the heavy, ornate door, while a neon Anchor sign illuminates the one tiny window that overlooks the street. Upon entering, the long wooden bar presents itself to the right while beer/whiskey barrels double as tables along the left wall. Allagash, Sebago, and Brooklyn breweriana line the walls. House-made origami and white Christmas lights accent the bar while faux tin ceilings and 19th century-style light fixtures help give Mama's a well-worn, comfortable feel. Myriad board games, darts, and cribbage are provided to entertain while you down a pint or three; local musicians perform on a near-nightly basis; and patrons can be found knitting while imbibing... This is the quintessential neighborhood bar.

Once you take the atmosphere in and belly-up, you are greeted by four taps and 30+ bottle selections. Tricia, the owner, has put much time and effort into creating an all American tap and bottle list; the effort shows. The taps rotate frequently, but you are almost always guaranteed to find at least one Allagash selection on draught. During my most recent visit (8/26/2010) the taps dispensed Allagash Black and Curieux, and Sebago Frye's Leap IPA and Barleywine. What a great representation of local craft beer!

The bottle list is equally as impressive. Maine Beer Company's Zoe and Peeper are regularly stocked. Smuttynose, Ommegang, Jolly Pumpkin, Victory, Brooklyn, Anchor, North Coast, and many others are well-represented. The bottle list doesn't rotate as often as the taps, but recent additions Brooklyn Local 1, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, and Rock Art Vermonster have been well-received by the neighborhood beer geeks.

The staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and gregarious. You feel welcomed immediately. Mama's has quickly become my and my fiancé's regular bar. In a short time, Mama's has become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. And the neighborhood is lucky to have her.

 2,389 characters

Mama's Crowbar in Portland, ME
Place rating: 4.18 out of 5 with 12 ratings
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