Visited February 2016. Interesting location and I am not really sure what is the business plan. Visit was very short and I only had coffee and one of their own beers. Taplist was full of interesting Belgian beers.
So, we "only" drove a half hour each way out of the way to get here. Considering weíre 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 ownersí brewery). Now, Iím 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.
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 arenít 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...itís 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 donít 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 didnít work out for them they way theyíd hoped. I came with the attitude that Iíd like this place...maybe a lot...and if less than a lot...Iíd come back again (I realize thatís 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. Iím 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 couldnít have been more pleased had I been visiting a place that had a rating average of 85-95...but of course given itís a 100 in so many peopleís books and given the history and all the awards...well of course I came away wanting an even better experience...wanting even more...but thatís not a negative for me...itís a reason to come back.
totally over rated, in the middle of nowhere, bad service, the slection is not that impresive, only the food was fine...
Mathieu87 (313) Brussels, Belgium | November 6, 2015| Updated November 12, 2015
First, let me state, I TRIED visiting this place, but it wasnít open. The communication on how we made the trip all the way up there, to be faced with a closed bar, is however shameful/disgraceful. Let me explain. I already met Chris 3 times in Belgium. Twice on the Great Belgian Beer Dinner and once at Cantillon. Both times, we had a nice chat, and he suggested I should come visit his place, that we would love it. So, when I started planning our trip to the US, of which Ebenezer was an "high on the list" stop, I immediatly contacted him with the news, and asking him about opening hours. He replied me with a "thumbs up". Ok, no harm done, I figured Iíd contact him as our trip approached. When I did, a few days before our visit, letting him know when we could be dropping by, he texted me a reason he exceptionnaly couldnít be there that day, and that he felt too bad about it. When I replied him, to ask when it would be possible, or if the bar was even open without him being present, I never got a reply. Even after sending him two more messages asking him for more info. In the nearby B&B we booked, the owner said that they were never open on the days we could visit (during winter time). Wow, nice that you let us know about that in advance, Crhis. So as far as communication towards its custumors, Iíd give this place a 0/10, but thatís unfortunatly not possible. Anyways, donít ever plan a trip around visiting this place. This was the biggest let down on a 10 day trip trough the US. Iíll probably never take the effort again to visit. My score: A: donít know. S: donít know. S: donít know, canít find it on the internet either. F: donít know. V: didnít lose any money, but it costed me quite a bit to visit. O: bleh.
The good... itís 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.
tdtm82 (126) , England | August 26, 2015| Updated November 6, 2015
Chris Lively is one of the most accommodating hosts Iíve come across yet. Amazing cellar. Amazing man. Great list. I was extremely happy to visit and will make arrangements to visit again. You need to come. Itís crazy.
To sum it up, Iíd call this place a very good bar that is very overrated. That being said, it is still a great bar with a great selection of Belgian beers, but I donít feel I experienced the "best beer bar" in the country.
I donít think they have as many Belgian beers on tap as they used to, as they have several taps devoted now to their own beers from Lively brewing. Several from Allagash and 1 or 2 from Oxbow brewing (definitely worth a trip if youíre in Maine) as well. The Lively brewing beers were good, most seemed about average for a craft brewery. I didnít try anything that I had to have again.
A good bottle selection, could be close to 80-100 or so in the cooler. As for the beer cellar, forget it ... staff said only the cooler was available, and thereís no list. So you have to peer over people sitting at the bar to even see what might be in there. What good is a world class beer cellar if you canít buy and drink anything out of it? We arenít rating private collections here.
The food was good, and the service was great, but they seemed to know little about the actual Belgian beer that was on tap or what bottles were available.
The beer was a little pricey, but thatís to be expected. Iím willing to pay more if the value was there, but most of the bottles I saw were available in my local bottle shop. So itís hard to justify the standard "bar" markup, plus another 20% or so on a beer that is already $15-$20 in your local bottle shop.
Atmosphere was very nice.
Iíd certainly go back again .... with my expectations a bit more realistic this time :).
What a great place! In the middle of nowhere but we stopped by on our way to Jackson, NH. The place itself has a great ambience, the staff was very friendly and the selection was very good. Loads of Belgian stuff of course but also a very good tap list with good variation including several beers from Oxbow and Allagash. Got a chance to speak to the owner, Chris, who was very friendly and who has a greater passion for beer than most. If we follow the Guide Michelin principles, this is a three star: worth a trip of its own.
Visited here over a two years ago with jrallen34. With both had high expectations of this place but didnít live up to for us. Way out of the way from anything and we showed up was understaffed for a Friday at lunch time. We came hoping to meet the ownership, chat about beer and drink some great beer, overall a few winners on tap but the beer cooler of bottles available to us were things we generally have access too. The real draw is being able to try something from the cellar bottle list however she did not have access to it nor could locate anyone who did. My friend, based on recommendations, emailed (over 3+ times) ahead to the owners to see if they were going to be around during our visit but never received a response after 3 to 4 emails. We had plans to go regardless of the lack of response but left disappointed and as he said likely will never be back. When you are known for your tap list and unbelievable beer cellar that makes you a top 50 beer destination, not being able to access anything from there without the owners lends itself to an above average beer bar but not world class. Believe me, we saw the bottle list which was outstanding and asked about getting anything outside of what was in the beer cooler but told they had no access to get anything from cellar. Iíll say, Iíve been very fortunate to have traveled all around the world and US to visit some of the best beer destinations and you have to be able to meet the level of expectations of your clientele most of the time. We did everything we were told to help ensure we had a unbelievable visit and probably should have never went but its so far away from anything making a hard place to visit for even the most adventurous beer nerd. I read a few of the reviews where everything was perfect attacking peopleís reviews like my friend and Iís saying we are just being obnoxious, well, if I showed up met the ownership there chatting about there place, beer and cellar, getting an opportunity to see the cellar and sharing a beer or two from there would not only have met but exceeded our expectations. Again, we reached out based on recommendations of others to try and coordinate with the owners with hopes of having those same experiences but unfortunately just didnít work out and too far away to visit on even an infrequent basis.