Tag Archives: bar

Barfly’s View: Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

Last week I traveled to Portland, Maine, for a few days to celebrate Portland Beer Week. Portland is an amazing New England city by the sea that’s packed with great restaurants, quality breweries and brewpubs, and top-notch beer bars. I hit up nearly a dozen different bars in Portland, but one in particular really stood out: Novare Res Bier Café.

Novare Res is a dark, semi-subterranean beer bar with brick columns and other brick accents, and Belgian-themed decorations throughout, which make for a very cool, laid-back atmosphere. The beer list is amazing; Novare Res has 25 rotating drafts, two hand-pumped casks and more than 500 bottles—I drank some very hard-to-find Cantillon Lambics, Vigneronne and Saint Lamvinus. And Novare Res spotlighted a number of Maine brewers I’d never heard of, as part of Portland Beer Week. (Shout out to Oxbow Brewing Co. and Bull Jagger Brewing Co., two awesome Maine breweries that put on noteworthy events at Novare Res last week.)

Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

The bar serves a number of meat-and-cheese hors d’oeuvres, and a few small meals, but it’s the beer not the food that makes Novare Res shine. The bartenders are also very knowledgeable and friendly. In fact, one particularly-cool bartender noticed that I was drinking sour beers and went out of his way to let me know that a nearby Japanese noodle bar had one of my favorite gueuzes, Tilquin, on draft. (If you read this, thanks man, the gueuze—and gyoza—at Pai Men Miyake was awesome.)

Boston is home to some world-class beer bars that I frequent. I travel fairly often, and I make it a point to visit all the best beer bars wherever I roam—hence, my collection of Barfly’s Views. In other words, I know my beer bars. But I was blown away by Novare Res Bier Café. Novare Res is not only the best beer bar I found in Portland, it’s one of the best beer bars I’ve ever been to. If you find yourself in Portland, Maine, you need to get your ass over to Novare Res.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Cambridge Brewing Co. in Cambridge, MA

Cambridge Brewing Co.

Cambridge Brewing Co. is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts’s Kendall Square neighborhood, just across the Charles River from downtown Boston, and it is hands down my favorite brewpub in the Boston area.

That’s because of the laid-back, upscale pub atmosphere and quality, fresh foods. But the real reason I love Cambridge Brewing Co., or CBC, as the locals call it, is the beer. I’ve never met a CBC beer that I didn’t like. Lots of small brewpubs make mediocre beer, but CBC, the oldest brewpub in Boston, makes world-class brews. (In fact, it just won a silver medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Fest.) CBC has four house beers that are always on tap, as well as a frequently-rotating selection of more experimental brews, some with rather amusing names. And you can buy growlers to go.

Kendall Square is a technology center of Boston and Cambridge, and it’s home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). So CBC is often packed with 30-something professionals drinking over lunchtime business meetings or quirky MIT students winding down after a day of hitting the books.

Whenever a beer-loving friend or colleague visits Boston, CBC is the first drinking-destination I recommend.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Neighborhood in San Diego, CA

Neighborhood Bar San Diego

Today I arrived in San Diego to cover a (non-beer-related) conference, and the first thing I did was seek out some decent beer bars within walking distance of my hotel. I hit a few duds first, but I eventually found Neighborhood. The bar also serves wine and cocktails, so it’s not really a straight beer bar, per se. But the beers it does serve, on tap and in bottles and cans, are clearly selected with love.

Neighborhood is located in downtown San Diego’s East Village, just east of the city’s Gaslamp Quarter, and it’s a solid beer nerd hangout. It has around 30 draft beers on at any given time and between 30 and 40 bottles. (Neighborhood had Pliny the Elder on tap today, which definitely didn’t hurt.) My bartender was friendly and unpretentious, if a bit stereotypically hipsterish. And she was knowledgeable and helpful when I asked for recommendations. The food is unique, upscale pub grub. And the décor and atmosphere both get thumbs-up from me. (Neighborhood also apparently has a secret “speak easy” called Noble Experiment with an entrance near the restrooms that’s hidden with beer kegs, but I didn’t actually see it.)

If you’re in San Diego’s East Village or Gaslamp Quarter and you’re seeking a unique craft brew, you could definitely do worse than Neighborhood.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Bison County Bar and Grill in Waltham, MA

Bison County Bar and Grill Waltham MA

Bison County Bar & Grill in Waltham, MA, a Boston suburb that’s about 25 minutes outside of the city, is half barbeque joint, half beer bar. I’m not much of a barbeque guy—I don’t eat beef or pork—so I can’t say too much about the food, but Bison has more than 15 draft beers available at any given time and 50 or so bottles, many of which are local. And (most of) the bartenders are cool and willing (and able) to chat craft beer.

A number of Boston Celtics players have also been known to hangout at Bison, since the team’s practice facility is located in Waltham. (I’ve never seen any of the Celts’ “stars” there, though.) The atmosphere is decent, especially since Waltham is known more for its dingy sports bar than beer bars. I’ve even found a few cans of the extremely elusive Heady Topper IPA, from the Alchemist, at Bison.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Original Gravity Public House in San Jose, CA

Shortly after I arrived in San Jose this week, I wandered over to the Original Gravity Public House—or the O.G. Pub, as I’ve come to call it. I found the Original Gravity Public House in downtown San Jose via a Google search for “best beer bars in San Diego.” And I’m glad I did; the O.G. Pub is a great beer-nerd hangout.

The bar had more than 20 quality craft beers on tap, a good percentage of which were local, and a small-but-interesting bottle list. I visited two days in a row, and on the second day they had three different beers on tap. Original Gravity Public House opened relatively recently, and the atmosphere could use a little work. But it does have the cool, bar-top glass rinsers I wrote about recently. The bartenders are friendly. It serves delicious sausage from local Bay-Area butchers and gourmet grilled cheese. (I can’t vouch for the cheese sandwiches, but the spicy chicken sausage sandwich I had was fucking awesome.) And it’s the only bar I’ve ever been to that has a beer list in HD on a big-ass flat screen TV.

UBN

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Barfly’s View: The Publick House in Brookline, MA

The Publick House in Brookline, MA

A couple of weeks ago I posted a Barfly’s View from my favorite Boston-area beer bar, the Publick House in Brookline, Mass.’s Washington Square. In that post, I spotlighted one of my favorite things about the bar: The cool green-marble taps in the Publick House’s Monk’s Cell, where they pour only Belgian beers.

I stopped by the Publick House yesterday for a draft Gueuze Tilquin and some chicken-and-garlic mac and cheese, and I snapped this new Barfly’s View. If you’re ever in the Boston area and you’re looking for a beer-nerd hangout spot, the Publick House’s 36 taps and 100+ bottles will not disappoint, which is why it sits atop my list of the best Boston beer bars.

UBN

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Bar-Top Rinsers and Why You Want Bartenders to Blast Your Glass Before Pouring a Pint

Bar-Top Glass Rinser and Drip Tray

Bar-top glass rinser and drip tray

Earlier this summer, while vacationing—and drinking—in beautiful, scenic Plymouth, Mass., I saw something at a bar that I’d never seen before: a built-in bar-top glass rinser. The bar was the New World Tavern in downtown Plymouth, and I’ve since seen these odd glass-rinser-thingies at a number of craft beer bars, so I thought I’d do a little investigating.

The first thing I learned about the strange water-blasting mechanisms is that they’re not new. They are apparently quite popular in some European locales, but they’re just now starting to catch on in Boston and other American cities, as far as I can tell.

Standalone bar-top glass rinser

Standalone bar-top glass rinser

The idea is simple: Bartenders flip a glass upside before filling it, hold the glass over the rinser, press down on the appropriate area with the glass’s rim and then water automatically shoots up and rinses the glass of dust, debris or any dishwashing soap that may have not have been washed clean.

The makers of these bar-top rinsers also say they result in a better pour, because beer pours better into a wet glass. This results in less friction when the liquid slides down the inside of the glass. And the rinsers also “encourage head retention, and the cold temperature of the water helps to cool the glass,” according to kegworks.com.

Frankly, the glass rinsers look damn cool too, and they’ll not only grab customer attention and draw a lot of questions, but also lead annoying curious bloggers to write silly blog posts about them.

The rinsers can be purchase as standalone units or as part of a larger “drip tray.” Standalone “undercounter mount glass rinsers” cost $200 on micromatic.com, but interested bar owners will likely have to drop significantly more scratch to install the required in-line water supply system.

UBN

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