Travlr (3055) Charlotte , North Carolina | August 15, 2011| Updated February 20, 2014
Did the3 hourdrivefrom Hill Farmsteadto try thisfamousplace. Chris and his staff were terrific, and he kept opening beers for usrifht and left all night long (1993 CantillonKriek, 1953 Affligem, to namedrop a few). Food is upscale and tastier than average pub food plus. Beer prices are similar to those in Washington DC, which are high. But with all the free beers, it was awash. Great atmosphere, friendly visitors and locals. Worth going our of your way to visit.
So, we "only" drove a half hour each way out of the way to get here. Considering we’re from California, that is probably about as good as a tourist/traveler can do. We came from Moat Mountain after hiking in Crawford Notch. The very odd backroad way the GPS advised us to take actually paid off as we saw some black bears ambling across the road. Neat!
Anyway, yeah, this place is kind of in the middle of nowhere. Sort of a bucket list beer place for me as well, since it was one of those mystical places when I first started getting really into beer. Small parking lot and pretty modest sized outdoor dining room and bar as well. Very cozy and homely. Seems the Belgian beer festival had ended just a few days prior, so a lot of Belgian beers still on draft and bottles in the cooler.
The draft list was pretty eclectic and actually had a handful of beers from Lively Brewing (the owners’ brewery). Now, I’m sure that the cellar here is insane and if you know the right people, you can get just about anything you might want. I would say the draft list and bottles available during our visit were certainly very much above average and had some nice finds. But I guess considering the unreasonable hype that surrounds this place, it was impossible to meet those expectations.
The women working the bar were incredibly friendly and helpful. Happy to let us, and other patrons, try any beers before committing to a purchase. I appreciated that as some of the beers were quite expensive (many at $10 or $12 for maybe 8 to 10 ounce pours).
I really enjoyed my visit here, but I would caution those that come here expecting to be able to just order every rare beer they can imagine on a whim and have it appear in front of them. If you want that, you probably should try to make some sort of arrangement ahead of time. Otherwise, just show up and drink some good beers.
Aaand here it is. Place rating #1000, and it is the highest rated place in America. I spent the previous night in Portland and drove up here for lunch on my way back to Burlington, so it was only a half hour out of my way or so. Agreed with Borken that that is about the best you can do for most of humanity. I had a bit of a scare about opening; the phone number listed above no longer plays a message when they are closed and the times I called I just got nothing. My emails were never answered. Fortunately they did respond on my last resort (facebook) after a day or so confirming they would be open. When I arrived the placard out front advertised new 7 days per week opening hours of 11:30AM-9PM (bar open later) You are really out in the boonies here; barely cell phone service (nothing at all inside actually), surrounded by trees and a country club golf course. Loads of deer flies and mosquitos to keep you company though. Plenty of parking - the lot itself is not large but there is parking on the approach. When I pulled in it looked like the gravel lot was full of broken glass, but its just Mica - no worries.
The sign has been updated from the one on the picture; its black and white; an old man in a rumpled tophat holding a lantern. Presumably Ebenezer Scrooge?? It is also called just Ebenezers now, but I am not going to be the one to change it here, given the iconic nature of this place!
Walk up an it seems a bit like you are coming up on somebodies house. Find the correct entrance and step in to the covered patio, which is nice and offers views of the golf course. Step inside from there and there is a seating area and a fairly small bar. The place certainly had customers, but was not busy on a Friday at lunchtime. Most folks seemed like locals to me with the exception of one neckbeard and his wife who were clearly here because of the place’s iconic status in beer nerddom. Lots of people came and picked up to go orders. Two sided tap list was pretty interesting indeed, fairly IPA focused which seemed strange. About 2/3 of the beers were New England in origin, but there were a smattering of other things ranging from the obvious (St Bernardus 12) to the unusual (a 2012 keg of Makers Mark Riporter). Lively brewing was well represented on the list, but was not explicitly advertised as the owners brewery. Tap beers were available in full or half pours, no taster glass sizes, although they will give you a Danish pour of anything you want to try, literally in a small shot glass. I asked about the bottle list and was directed to the coolers, which held an interesting, but not mind-blowing, set of Belgian and others. Nowhere near 1000+ bottles; perhaps 100? Cantillon and De Cam were well represented, along with vintages of things like Pannepot. Nothing shot out as a must try so I did not ask about prices. I did not ask and was not offered a glimpse at the rumored private cellar. I have no idea whether there is some secret handshake into the Ebenezar Kezar private cellar, but just being able to visit the place was a lot of fun, even without being read in to the full monte experience.
Service was cheerful and helpful. I did not get the feel that my server had any deep understanding of beer, but she recognized that I was a beer dork quickly and let me do my thing. Food (I had a Cobb Salad) was amazingly fresh and tasty. I would not be surprised if everything on my place was sourced from within 30 minutes. Carrot slices were cut into butterflies, which my kids would have loved. All in all an outstanding beer destination, and well worth the (likely one time) visit in celebration of my 1000th place review on RateBeer. Given that I have already been to Grote Dorst, I am not sure what I could do for #2000, but I have a while to think about it I guess. Sante!
The good... it’s a very small, quaint, inviting place, comfortable. Excellent tap selection. Lots of bottles, including rarities. Tasty food, reasonable price.
The bad: the service. I was met with a condescending decline when I asked for a bottle list. The response when my friend my asked for a menu substitution was troubling to say the least.
Overall, this was a little disappointing, but hopefully that experience was atypical. Still worth a stop.
Oakes (832) Vancouver, British Columbia | June 21, 2008
A long way to go but it is a temple of beer to be sure. One misgiving - if you don’t talk to Chris the owner, you won’t get poured Black Albert. I’d like to know, personally, that I can just walk in off the street and get a good beer, not play the is the owner in lottery. Especially true because the waitress at first didn’t know so much about beer. The tap list is stellar, and the bottle list is rock solid. There is a cellar, which you have to figure is a nice little bonus, again if you’ve announced yourself as a wandering beer geek. I like the place. It drips beer, and in a location where it has no earthly right to. It’s an expression of the owner’s passion and you really should plan to stay the night. Overall, it’s one of the best beer bars I’ve seen in the US.
Out of the way drive from Portland, I wouldn’t want to do this in bad weather. Amazing tap list, good bottle list. The cellar, I hear its legendary but did not want to chance owner not being there if I returned late afternoon. Serviers very young and knew something about the beer, The place has a small feeling however there are many available tables and a large tentlike area outside. Very rare taps on, and I did what I could to have several higher alcohol ones. Hard to find on GPS. Small bar.
This place has grown into quite a phenomenon in the beer rating community and I must say it is mightily deserved. Chris displays that kind of passion that has put places like Kulminator on the map. Its inconceivable location perhaps only add to the reputation as people need nothing less than a pilgrimage to reach Lovell. Once there, only a blatant ignorant could deny the unbelievable draught beer list. Out of the 30 or so beers on tap, I felt like drinking at least 15. They carry the exceptional. And if Chris catches a glimpse of you smelling your glass, be ready because he’ll tell you you’re the reason he built this place up. Passionate beer lovers are his fuel and once he brings you downstairs and starts opening up numerous rarities to thank you for coming, you’ll think that maybe this is how life should be. Going back to your normal life will not be the pleasant perspective it can sometimes be after long trips...
My second visit was slightly less interesting. It occured during the Belgian week and the service was less stellar, nor attentive. Separate checks should be a must for tables of 10+. Also, we did not really fall into the grace of Chris, it seems we would have needed to buy very expensive bottles to be. The nighttime party we expected was apparently held off-site. The selection is still extraordinary, but prices seem to have climbed a fair bit. Still an extraordinary place, but I’m lowering my score from 94 to 88 and recommend avoiding special events where you’ll likely miss the special attentions of quieter evenings.
I thought this would be a good place for my 500th review (gold explorer). So many opinions...mostly good...some not. Some of the ones that aren’t good...I can at least understand...others maybe not. Cutting to the chase though...as it concerns my visit...I had a really fine experience. For me after one visit...it’s not a 100..but easily the 96 I gave it. If I come back and have some more in depth experiences I will rate higher...but I don’t automatically expect to get those on a first visit...even given the long drive. I feel bad for someone who came from another country and only had one shot...and it didn’t work out for them they way they’d hoped. I came with the attitude that I’d like this place...maybe a lot...and if less than a lot...I’d come back again (I realize that’s not easy for many...but the place deserves that kind of attention..."and" patience). As far as service...My wife and I were fortunate to get a seat at the bar at about 5:30PM on Sunday evening of this past Memorial Day weekend. I’m sure that helped with the service we got (our bartender/server was amazing!). I could see that many of the tables were being served by younger waiters/waitresses...that "may" have not been as beer savvy as a long traveling beer nerd (like myself) might have hoped for. As for the food...the spicy tuna sashimi in avocado flowers and Ponzi sauce was freakin amazing! My wife had the fish and frites and I had the house burger...with English Stilton, bacon, avocado on a brioche...it was cooked perfectly. Now for the beer...I drank a couple of the "Lovely" drafts...a hoppy one...and a hempy one. My wife had the amazing Piccolo...which I shared with her. I finished with the incredible Black Albert. All in all...we came on a great night...and had a great time. I couldn’t have been more pleased had I been visiting a place that had a rating average of 85-95...but of course given it’s a 100 in so many people’s books and given the history and all the awards...well of course I came away wanting an even better experience...wanting even more...but that’s not a negative for me...it’s a reason to come back.
chibuck (588) Chicago, Illinois | October 7, 2012| Updated November 2, 2012
Went 2 hours out of the way to check out this highly hyped beer nerd destination and sadly it was a waste of time. I cannot recommend anyone making the trip without a confirmation from the owner that he will be there, if he responds to you.
A similar theme of Lion’s Pride emerged as it was understaffed for a Friday, only one server for the whole place.
The draft list was solid, but pedestrian compared to Lion’s Pride. A rare treat was Pannepot Wild, and an awesome Swedish pale ale. Outside of that, commonly available drafts.
Bottles in front of the bar were common stuff available anywhere. The menu lists those beers and a few others that are supposedly available, like Cantillon. Alas, anything not in those fridges was accessible. The lambic cellar and the other cellar were off limits to view, and off limits to staff to get beers out of it.
The food was basically that of Lion’s Pride, and frankly wasn’t as good.
The server was nice and tried to be helpful knowing we came specifically to check out their cellar. However, she seemed more concerned about me writing a bad review, as she mentioned several times to me that she was worried I would write a bad review because I was unable to see what I came to see.
I did message the owner about my coming in hopes of picking a time he would be there to ensure what happened to me, wouldn’t have happened. I got no reply weeks in advance. I take responsibility for still going and being disappointed. However, if you’re going to make your name as beer place with a sick cellar have access to it available at all times, not some random time. I feel cheated, my time was wasted, and sadly its so far out of the way, I’ll never be back.
Chris Lively has created Beer Geek Paradise in the middle of freakin’ nowhere, Maine. The 35 taps are extremely alluring and the expansive bottle selection as much so, but if Chris is around you might not even get the chance to get drink from this mouthwatering menu. You see, there are many, many more bottles hiding in his cellar which he can break out if you are interested. The selection down there is almost absurd. From 25-year-old Westveleteren, to a plethora of Lost Abbeys, the entire vintage lineup of Thomas Hardy’s and SN Bigfoot, Struise Earthmonk, and on, and on, and on...We had the pleasure of sitting with Chris the entire evening (we were there on a Sunday evening, so during a pretty quiet period) and let’s just say I’m almost shy to tell you what he brought out for us. I see from other ratings that Chris does this quite often for the travelling craft beer lover, so if you plan on visiting, do make it a point to contact him and Jen beforehand and you might just be treated to an early piece of heaven. They gave us a ride back to our hotel after the evening, which was highly appreciated. Such quality and generosity have rarely been put together on this beery planet. And all this in a most unpretentious and casual house in the middle of the forest...