BRUNSWICK – Although the Lion’s Pride Restaurant & Pub does not border a narrow cobblestone street built a few centuries back, and in fact sits smack on Route 1, it holds all the elixirs — the beers — you could hope to find in the Old World and the New.

chance we arrived on Wednesday, beer education night, when an enthusiastic beer expert and manager Ryan Travers related the highlights of the golden and amber and deep brown drinks poured with a touch to one of the shimmering glass taps. Drinking up the lesson plan makes the learning go down easy.

The burgers are probably the best bet with the beer, and the lamb burgers are even better. Respectable fries and ever popular bar chow like wings and nachos are served.

We couldn’t make much of a dent in a mountain of linguine in the seafood scampi, and its overcooked lobster was a disappointment. But you just cannot beat the beer.

You don’t have to wait till Wednesday to try a beer sampler of 4.5-ounce glasses, and all the servers are happy to answer questions. Beer enthusiasts are more likely to get hired at the Lion’s Pride, said Jen Lively, owner with her husband Chris Lively, who also own Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell. “There’s so much out there that people don’t realize.”

I wanted to taste dark beers and my friend wanted to try clean, crisp beer perfect for a summer day. That clash of sensibilities resulted in a wooden tray with a central handle that wheeled us from pale, clear Smuttynose Maibock that was sweet and smooth, then down into the murky darkness of Rogue RIS, and to Russian Imperial Stout, with bitter intense coffee and baker’s chocolate overtones.

Duchesse De Bourgogne was way too sweet for me, with its cherry flavor and red color, but that’s the one the bar recommends for wine drinkers who don’t drink beer. Old Rasputin from North Coast Brewing Company in California is dark, its bitterness leavened with roasted flavors and just enough hoppy high notes.

Allagash head brewer Jason Perkins contributed dry-hopped cask-conditioned Allagash Tripel to the Lion’s Pride’s recent Hop Fest, adding Japanese hops called Sorachi Ace, which have a “strong lemon/citrus aroma with spicy herbal notes,” as he described it. Dry-hopping gives beer a vivid aroma but no bitterness.

“We had people travel from out-of-state to come to Hop Fest,” Jen Lively said. With 35 beers on draft, including local brews and many Belgian, German, French and Italian beers, we really specialize in the world’s best.”

The food at The Lion’s Pride is not quite so exciting, though some of it is good.

The modest Indian eggroll appetizer ($4), three small filled dumplings, spurted seasoned potato and vegetable puree as we cut into them, scenting the air with cumin.

The wings ($9) with Thai sweet and spicy sauce were crispy and lightly fried. A few sticks of carrot and celery are served with blue cheese dressing. The wings make the mouthfuls of beer brighter in taste and flavor, instead of vice versa.

That usually works when the beer is this good. But nothing could mask the overcooked lobster in the seafood scampi ($27), an otherwise straightforward pasta dish with so-so scallops and mussels and good-tasting shrimp.

Far better was a lamb burger. Lamb can be substituted for beef in any of the burgers for $2, and the Chimay Burger ($11 with beef) appealed with its Trappist and Stilton cheese. The cheese was indeed wonderfully aromatic and the pink ground lamb equally flavorful. Fries or frites, as they’re called on this menu, are crunchy and deep brown.

The Rochefort burger ($12) is designed for ground lamb, with artisanal beer cheese, crisp shallots, spinach and prune ketchup. The Rochefort beer that this burger is named for is a Trappist Belgian beer brewed by monks at one of the world’s last seven Trappist breweries, and it would make the perfect drink.

Wraps, a Reuben, a sandwich made with beer-braised pork shoulder and a cheese steak on a French baguette are more fine ways to divert your palate in between tastes of good beer. Beer-battered haddock with fries ($15) and the caf?ausage plate ($16) are likely to do the same in greater quantities.

The Allagash website recommends pairing Allagash Curieux, aged in Jim Beam barrels for eight weeks, with cheesecake. The vanilla, coconut and hint of bourbon will be in the beer, not the dessert. But the cheesecake ($6.50), made in-house, performs its role nicely, the not-too-sweet cheese dense and creamy and the buttery graham cracker crust sweet and crunchy. Brownie sundaes and a decadent chocolate dessert are also served, along with beer sorbets and beer gelatos from Gelato Fiasco.

The coffee that ended our meals was round, full-flavored and hot. My companion had said she could have mistaken the Brew Dog Zeitgeist for cold coffee at the start of the meal. But by this point, the real stuff was best.


N.L. English is a Portland freelance writer and the author of “Chow Maine: The Best Restaurants, Cafes, Lobster Shacks and Markets on the Coast.” Visit her website,


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