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Novare Res Bier Café
Taps: 26 / Bottles: 250
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
4 Canal Plz
phone: (207) 761-2437
(Place added by: indiapaleale on 05-28-2008)
Ratings & Reviews
| Reviews: 109 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
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.
03-08-2010 01:56:47 |
More by WanderingFool
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
I finally had a chance to visit Eric's bar.
As noted by other reviewers, there's been plenty of attention given to atmosphere here in a bank basement turned beer bar. Whether you're in the main lounge at one of the many tables, the back lounge in a comfortable couch, or on the spacious patio at a picnic table, you'll be comfortable. I'm sad that we weren't able to be there for the German fest where we would have been able to eat sausages grilled right on the patio while drinking Uerige Alt on cask. /cry
Quality here is a reflection of the owner, who takes a great deal of personal pride in everything about this bar. All of the cheeses, meats, and snacks are of the finest quality & freshness. The beers are served in appropriate glassware, at appropriate temperature & carbonation levels.
Service takes one of the only hits here, due in part to the size of our party (13) and the relative inexperience of the staff. I'm sure that in another 3-6 months this rating will climb, I only hope to find an excuse to revisit.
Selection is dangerously great, with 20+ tap lines of the best micro, craft, and import beers available. In today's rapidly inflating market, the prices are reasonable.
If you're in Portland and not a regular at Novare Res, you should be. If you're not in Portland, you now have a reason to visit!
08-27-2008 20:48:55 |
More by wyllder
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
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".
06-06-2010 23:13:55 |
More by twelvsies
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Novare Res makes me glad I live in Portland. It is a great place to go for beers and some light food after work, on a weekend day or before a nice meal at one of Portland's many great restaurants. Also, don't know why, but this bar is a great place to hang out when it is pouring rain or snowing heavy outside. Great space. Unique. Much brick and stone but warm feeling. Basement feel but with windows along one wall to an old New England brick landscape.
Awesome beer selection. Good food too - lighter plates that compliment, without overwhelming, the beer. It is about the beer. Owned by a nice, friendly, young family. A comfortable place for all.
The staff will help you find the perfect beer for you. The beer selection has more of a European focus than most places, but they always have some good American ales like Rogue and Dogfish Head as standbys.
07-27-2010 02:33:23 |
More by mmonagh1
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$$
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
07-12-2008 02:09:26 |
More by joepais
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.
05-14-2009 23:55:43 |
More by slander
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.
03-22-2012 18:21:32 |
More by mlazzaro
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$$
I'm not a tourist but not a Portlander either, and Novare is one of my go-to places in Portland. Really like everything about this place: the atmosphere (12 degrees below zero in the dead of winter as well as hot & humid summers on the big hops-laced beer garden / deck), the selection, the clientele, and the staff.
The bottled beer selection is great and the draughts are fresh (super-clean tap lines!) and are rotated very frequently. Check their website for the latest draught lineup -- as others have said here, they update their list online faithfully (seemingly daily). Prices are a bit high *for Portland* but are still lower than any comparable place in Boston, Burlington, Providence, or NY. I've always -- and I mean always -- found the staff very helpful and engaging and have been recommended some amazing beers I would not have otherwise tried on my own. They know their stuff and will share their knowledge if you're not a jerk.
Yes, they do a 2-day Octoberfest fun thing where they have but two O-fest beers on tap and served in 1 liter maas mugs. Surprised some people find that annoying; most of us sorta regulars look forward to it and take it in the fun spirit in which it's intended. Novare also does other events nights / weeks that are cool: Caskfest, Smuttfest, Belgian Bier Fest, Roguepalooza, and so on.
I like me my Novare a lot and appreciate it for what it is -- one of the top beer bars in my state of Maine.
10-13-2012 22:13:49 |
More by zamboni1
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
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..
01-17-2009 00:57:11 |
More by Reagan1984
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | $$
After a long weekend of beer and food greatness in Portland I feel obligated to review a places on here.
This was my second time visiting Novare Res and certainly won't be the last. The atmosphere of this bar is superb. Brick interior with big long communal tables and two bars. It is simple and works very well for a craft beer bar. Very dark, no TVs, just the beer and the people. They have an outdoor patio/Bier Garden if you will but it was extremely cold while we visited. If it was warmer out, I would be there in a second. Just a good mix of dive, beer bar and how did I escape to Belgium.
Quality and service were great both times I visited. There are plenty of bartenders/waiters who are ready to serve you beer in proper glassware in a timely fashion. They know their stuff about the products and will answer any questions you have about pretty much anything they are serving. The staff members who have served me were always nice and did not put up that wall of snark you often find at higher end beer bars.
Beer selection, probably the most important thing in a beer bar review, is stellar. Great draft selections which range from $5-$10 and cover a great deal of styles. The bottle selection is also fairly amazing. The first time I visited they had some of the best lambics in the world and probably stock up on them whenever they possibly can. The second visit I had a delicious Rasputin XII and a Pannepot 2006 with my friend.
Prices are comparable to any other specialty craft beer bar, if not just a tad lower than most of the ones I am used to in MA. Truly one of the best places to get good beer in New England.
01-23-2013 02:12:20 |
More by cbutova
Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, ME
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