Bar Review of Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland, ME.
I’m not going to lie, I went into my first visit to Novare Res with very high expectations. I had heard many good things from reliable sources and one look at the beer selection on their website is enough to make you drool. Sometimes too much hype can let you down, but not in this case. They still managed to blow my mind and exceed my sky-high expectations!
The first thing you notice when you walk in is that the place has a great vibe. With the aged brick walls, ornate tin ceilings, wood trim, low lighting and downstairs entrance, it feels like your decending into a proper Belgian Bier Cellar. They really nailed the atmosphere. You half expect a Trappist monk to saunter over and take your order.
Now let’s discuss the beer selection. I’ve certainly been to beer bars with a larger or more diverse draught beer selection than Novare Res, but theirs is certainly respectable. They have 30 rotating taps, and the rarity is what makes them great, not to mention the number of local offerings. Then there’s the bottle list. Hundreds of bottles, sorted by style, with a high level of rarity and diversity. Rather than try to explain it you should just look at it (click here).
Obviously the beer is the most important thing, but what really sets this place apart are the small details, like the knowledge and professionalism of all the bartenders and waitstaff. Not to mention the coolest thing, which is no matter what bottle I ordered, they had the appropriate matching glass (as evidenced by the Schlenkerla Urbock below), and how many places can you say that about?
The combination of all these things makes you realize that you’re in a special place that has a real passion for beer and an appreciation for the beer-drinking experience,… a beer sanctuary of sorts. After realizing this I then proceeded to defile this sanctuary, and it’s one of the few times in my life I was almost thrown out of a bar. This is actually a great testimony for them, because I have a typical protocol when I go to a place like this, especially with a review in mind. In my daily life I drink a lot of beer, so I’m typically able to consume 4-6 craft beers (depending on the ABV) before I begin the decent into drunkenness. I will almost always cut myself off at this point and call it a night, but I was having such a great experience at Novare Res that I didn’t want it to end, so I just kept ordering. Not to mention the fact that my hotel was walking distance from the bar, so not only did I not have to worry about anyone in my group driving, we didn’t even have to worry about being conscious enough to call a cab. I was there with a couple other members of the Beer Snob Squad, some heated debates broke out, we started to get really loud, etc. You probably know where this is going, but thankfully we avoided total embarrassment and managed to leave of our own volition shortly before we were all booted out on our bums.
With as many great beer bars as I’ve been to, for a place to be able to suck me in like that it has to be good. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best beer bars in Portland, and I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best beer bars in Maine. I’d say it’s one of the best beer bars in all of New England. If you’re passionate about beer, you’ll love it. If you’re not passionate about beer you might be when you leave. If you’re passionate about prohibition and sobriety, you’ll hate it, stay home. If you’re passionate about grooming your dogs to look like other animals, you’re weird, and no amount of beer or sobriety can help you.