I recently decided to revisit a bar that I had spoken about in a previous entry. While spending some time in Portland Maine this past month, I thought it would be good to visit Novare Res again. The week that I was there happened to be their anniversary party, so I knew they were going to have some great beers on tap.
Novare Res is a Belgian beer bar located in Canal Plaza in downtown Portland Maine. It would be very easy to overlook this place since it’s located behind a street of busy shops and sort of in an alley way. The only way that I was able to find it was by looking for a small sign saying “Novare Res Bier Cafe” written in chalk located on the sidewalk of Exchange St. As I walked around the corner my memory of this place came back from my previous visit this past October.
The bar is on the ground level of a very old building. And from what I could tell, it looks like the upper level is being used as a clothing store – although I never went up there to check it out. The pathway to Novare Res has the entrance on the right side and has a large outdoor seating area to the left. The outdoor area seemed to be pretty full when I was there, so I made a claim to the first table I saw when going inside
The bar sits about 15 people but there is a pretty large seating area in the main room and a lounge with couches and comfortable chairs located in a room off to the side. The draft list is very heavy on Belgian style beers and has a great selection of local Maine breweries as well. I’ve been to this place a few times and have been able to consistently find Allagash, Maine Beer Company, Oxbow and Rising Tide on draft. When I visited this time, I arrived just in time for a tapping of Prince Tuesday – the Allagash, Rising Tide and Maine Beer Company collaboration, which is a beer only found in Maine.
What I found better than the draft selection, was the bottle list. There are at least a few hundred bottles to choose from and are all organized inside a laminated book. Beers in the menu are classified under their style and origin and include a description of each of the styles. Each style of beer is well represented – from Belgians to Japanese and from Imperial Stouts to Goze. The back of the menu contains a “Rare Beer” section which contains plenty of hard to find beers and specialties. I saw a number of bottles from De Struisse, limited Allagash Beers, all sorts of random aged beers, Dogfish Head, Cantillon, Nogne O and plenty of others. The prices of the bottles weren’t bad either. A friend and I were in the mood for a stout and couldn’t pass up the Barrel Aged Old Rasputin.
Although I didn’t order any food, they do offer a small menu that consists mostly of cheese platters and sandwiches. Some craft alcohol is also sold here and they’re not shy to let you know that they won’t mix them. You either drink it straight or order a beer. But with so many awesome beers to choose from, the latter isn’t a bad option.
What I found the most enjoyable about this bar was the feel of it. The old brick walls, decor and low ceilings created a type of character that most bars couldn’t mimic even if they tried. Although I’m unaware of what the building was used for before Novare Res was there, you can easily get the feeling of history while drinking there. It has a very old world type of feel to it. While there, my cell phone wasn’t getting any signal, but it didn’t matter. All that meant was that I had no distractions and I could concentrate on the important things – enjoying the company of friends and drinking awesome beers. This place is a must visit for anyone traveling to Portand. I know I’ll be going back every time.
4 Canal Plaza Portland, ME 04101