There are plenty of bars in Portland that offer an extensive selection, but none quite like Novare Res Bier Cafe. The drink menu is literally a book listing 25 rotating taps, two hand pumps and more than 500 varieties of bottled beer.
Understanding that not everyone drinks beer, Novare does offer red and white wine plus some liquor (served neat or on the rocks; don’t ask for a shot or mixers). However, the real point of going to Novare is to test the brews.
On a recent Saturday, I went to Novare with a couple of friends. The bar was fairly packed, but Kevin, Elizabeth and I were able to score a table and start perusing the menu.
According to the beer bar’s website, Novare Res means “to start a revolution” in Latin. Since the bar opened in Portland, it has certainly revolutionized beer drinking for many. The beer is endless, and there is something for everyone — light beer, dark beer, IPAs, ales, stouts.
I’m by no means a beer aficionado, so facing such an extensive menu of beer is daunting to me. At some point, I narrowed down that I liked red wine vs. white and which types of red I prefer, but I’ve yet to narrow down my preference of beer.
I read all my options, and decided to order Maine Mead Works with tea, lemon and mint for the first round. Kevin ordered a Victory V12, and Elizabeth ordered a Chimay brew. The beers widely range in price, but you can expect to pay from $5 to $10.
It’s really fun to watch the servers deliver drinks to customers, because each beer has a designated glass, and they’re all a little different. My drink was in a tall, skinny glass with a stem. Elizabeth’s beer was in a bottle served with a mini-goblet. Kevin’s was in a snifter-like glass.
Novare is tucked away from the main streets of Portland’s Old Port, and is a great place to discover. During the summer months, there’s a deck to enjoy beer outdoors. Inside, the dark tin ceilings and vintage tin beer advertising signs add to the bier garden atmosphere.
I’ve traveled a bit and spent some time at bier gardens in Germany. I can honestly say the large tables and ample beer at Novare reminds me of those bars I visited.
Another popular aspect to the bar scene of late includes hard cider and gluten-free options. Novare had at least nine ciders available when I was there, plus a special section of gluten-free beer longer than any other I’ve seen.
When Round 2 rolled around, I decided to ask our server for her favorite beer on tap. She brought me a tasty IPA.
If you’re not willing to leave your drink up to the fate of your server’s decision, the other great aspect of Novare is that it will give you a small taste of the beers on tap.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.