Watching my wife and her friend run the Beach to Beacon this weekend created a thirst which was nearly unquenchable, but I had to find a way to satiate my liquid lust. Later in the day, long after the race had ended, I would have that opportunity. While the women went shopping in downtown Portland, the men wandered over to Novare Res beer bar to consume some cold beverages.
We walked into the outdoor seating area where we stood for a few minutes. No one seemed to notice us and there weren’t any nearby menus to stare at. We looked around and the few wait staff that were serving beverages seemed busy, so we figured it would be best to go right to the source – the bar. Before heading in though, we noticed that a significant number of customers had small pours of what looked to be all the same beer. We were intrigued, but only later would we solve the mystery of the tiny beer.
There’s hardly a better place in Portland to try new libations than Novare Res. With well over a hundred beers, Novare Res is a beer garden for the casual beer enthusiast all the way to the most serious of beer connoisseurs. Having not been there in a while, I was excited to see what was on the most recent menu which we were finally able to find at the bar. It looked similar to the last one I had seen, but with additional sections of new offerings.
The incredibly large menu at Novare Res has a number of categories including Lambic, Belgian, German, Trappist, and many more. On draft, they were featuring a selection of many beers from Founders Brewing in MI which were on a separate menu. That menu also included three “Founder’s Food” items. There was a third menu that had limited liquor and wine choices and a handful of food options which was a smart move as not everyone drinks beer and if people don’t eat, they die.
After looking at all the menus, I decided that the Founders beers looked good. They had a great selection, from fruity beers to higher alcohol IPAs, scotch-style ales, stouts, and many more. I started with DOOM, an 8 oz pour of a double IPA aged in bourbon barrels. Drinking rule #72 is that anything aged in bourbon barrels is delicious, so that was a safe choice. My buddy chose a different Founders beer.
Since we were right at the bar, we only had to wait a moment for our frothy concoction and we headed back out to the seating area with beers in hand. The outdoor area featured picnic tables and a seating bar. We found a seat at a table under an umbrella to protect my pasty white skin. As we were sitting, we saw people bringing out the game cornhole to play at one end of the outdoor area. We took our first sips of beer and watched customers throw beanbags. My beer was tasty and with just over 10% ABV, it packed a punch. It actually had strong fruity notes – I’ve always wanted to say that – and hit the spot. We sipped our beers, chatted about the days of yore, and contemplated where the current day would bring us.
While enjoying ourselves and shooting the shit, we also continued to scrutinize the menus. I realize that I had missed a lot on the draft menu. We noticed a raspberry ale that looked promising. We also saw a “gift” thanking customers for a great summer. It was a 6 oz pour of the Founders KBS. At over 11% alcohol, it was another strong beer – a stout aged in bourbon barrels with oats, chocolates, sumatra, and coffee. That was the beer that everyone was drinking when we arrived. The mystery had been solved. The reason it was a gift was that the cost of the KBS was only $.25. We decided that when the women showed up, we would definitely buy them a beer and that would be the one. We could only order one each thought as the menu clearly stated “One per customer. Don’t be a dick!”
Once our beers were finished, we waited a bit and the women showed up. We promptly stated that we would be ordering them the next beer. My wife ordered a wine instead, but we got three of the KBS pours and let the women in on the secret. Everyone loved the beer. It had a strong chocolate flavor and a less obvious coffee taste which everyone liked. We also talked about having another beer.
I noticed and was highly intrigued by the Mango Magnifico con Calor – another Founders product which was on draft. The 8 oz pour was described as a high-gravity mango beer with a touch of Michigan grown habeneros. We decided to order one for the table. When it arrived, I separated it into three equal amounts with my wife having a sip from mine. As the beer entered my mouth, I got a hint of sweet mango and then…Holy Hops of Hades…the habenero came surfing in on a flavorful wave of goodness. The beer was the highlight of our visit – really nice flavor and heat. Everyone, including my non-beer-loving wife, loved it. It was interesting and delicious.
Upon finishing our mango habenero beer, we were done at Novare Res and our bill came. The first round had been paid up-front, so the bill included my wife’s wine, three of the KBS, and the spicy beer. It was almost 16 bucks which is probably the least I’ve ever paid for five high-quality beers/wines. It was quite a pleasant surprise and a reminder that I should visit Novare Res more often especially when I have a hankering to try a new beer. It’s definitely something I enjoy doing.
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