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The Liberal Cup Public House & Brewery

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Very Good
179 Ratings

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

115 Water St
Hallowell, Maine, 04347-1357
United States

(207) 623-2739 | map

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Ratings: 38 |  Reviews: 25
Reviews by slander:
Photo of slander
4/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Usually, we're Freeport one day, Portland one day, but Karl's heading to points north, I can tell. Won't give up too much 'cept he's heard about a place. I like these every year or other up north adventures, 'specially when I don't have to drive which is like, never. So I'm sitting back, taking in the Maine landscape 'til we arrive to lunch at the 'Cup, a rustic little place in a strip in a Maine town on the river Kennebec...

Ground floor room holds a shiny laminated twisted tree "C" shaped bar seating 14, set back to the left, with a brick base & foot rest; I put my feet there settling in at the bar. 3 tiered booze on a barback counter, glassware shelved below. Horizontal board above boasts "Brewed in Halowell, drunk in Halowell", and lists bottled selections (PBR, Miller Light, Harpoon Cider, Claushaler), and weekly wine specials. Old beer cans line the top of the board, brewery shirts displayed on the ends. Taps displayed on slat chain boards on center with "gallons remaining" marks written in chalk next to each one. Ceramic mug club mugs hang overhead, not many, but it's not about the quantity and you only need one anyway.

Wood plank floorings and ceiling over rafters above. Lots of brick play with cut throughs to the kitchen or somewhere. Old bottles line the trim along the ceilings, and displayed on racks & closed off window sills mirrored. A small semi enclosed dart area sits across from the bar, with a bar counter seating 3 just past there bellying up to a rear tiny hop lined glass front brewroom, old brewery signage, ads & trays (Ballantine, Narrangasset) displayed there and elsewhere. An angled bench table sits forward the darts, with an adjacent bar counter within a triptych glass window wall divider. Up front, 9 tables all sizes and shapes, high, low, crazy mismatched seating, something coffeetablish even. Through to the side room of brick & wood, a dozen tables some sharing common benchage. The room lightly decorated with coaster displays, annoying Red Sox stuff, and a large 1930 Federal census map of Maine in the side room (bad ass, I have 2 at home).

A single copper tower on the bar holds 6 taps, plus a lone guest tap (Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine) down on the end, and 2 horse & hound decorated handpumps on the bar up front. The 6 beer sampler paddle contained the 5 beers of their own they had up (Taxbox Stout, Alewife Ale, Brown Ale, Bug Lager, and a cask ESB) and the guest tap Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine. We all agreed that the Taxbox Stout was the best of the lot, and I also enjoyed the Alewife Ale. The Brown Ale was kind of weak though.

We didn't get to do food as we're Freeport bound and there's going to be a crazy chicken sandwich in my near future, but we saw some pretty generous portions being served to others, and it looked a-good. Friendly folks and a decent crowd. Nice, comfortable place for a beer, too bad we won't be lunching here but maybe next time.

***revisit 6 years out, the aforementioned lunch one day on the way up around the bend cutting the corner and out east.

I do the sampler, I always do the sampler, you know I do. 6 house beers served on a paddle. We All (S)cream Ale, a cream ale on nitro, some nice bitterness; the Bug Lager, sweet like honey or something, it's not unpleasant; the Tilted Kilt Scottish Ale, some band-aidiness, the miss of the hit or miss scotch ale style; the Tarbox Cream Stout, also on nitro, molasses or something strangely sweet going on there; the Mudflap Spring Bock, a tasty bock; and the cask Brickhouse Bitter; hoppy, with a pronounced bitterness. The Bug Lager, Mudflap Spring Bock & the cask Brickhouse Bitter were the best of the lot.

Garlic Parmesean wings were wonderful, served with the crispiest crunchiest of celery, and the 2 sausage & chicken Jambalaya, the content somewhat dry and not so stewy, done over white rice, had some good heat, I'm somewhat snotty now, I'm sure novryone's noticed.

I'm watching the clock over the kitchen cut through, 'cause I've miles yet to do and don't want to be late for dinner again. But then she turned on the tunes and we caught Like a Rolling Stone at "like Napolean in rags, and the language that he used...", and I felt like I had time for a pint of Mudflap Spring Bock, and I did, so I did.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of sbuchert
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 2.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Photo of kkdowning
3.91/5  rDev -3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of evergreen_machine
4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 5

Photo of Patko86
4.21/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Photo of WhitmansNiece
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Photo of illpass78
5/5  rDev +24.1%

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

129 characters

Photo of TheMaineBeerGuy
4.75/5  rDev +17.9%

Photo of chalkda01
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of bcgeiman
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%

Photo of anthony23cippy
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of johnnnniee
3.86/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

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.

 512 characters

Photo of costanzo_mike
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of coombski
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of WallyJaz
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of PJK
4.43/5  rDev +9.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

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.

 867 characters

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

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.

 1,010 characters

Photo of imbibehour
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

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.

 1,192 characters

Photo of SevaTse
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

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.

 720 characters

Photo of prestoneb
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

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.

 1,214 characters

Photo of babyhobbes
3.1/5  rDev -23.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

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.

 2,017 characters

Photo of kingcrowing
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

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!

 632 characters

Photo of Yeastcakes
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

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.

 1,312 characters

Photo of sprucetip
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4

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.

 1,623 characters

Photo of LostHighway
2.68/5  rDev -33.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

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.

 935 characters

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The Liberal Cup Public House & Brewery in Hallowell, ME
Brewery rating: 3.86 out of 5 with 179 ratings
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