In Lovell, Maine, fifty miles north-west of Portland, on a Lake Kezar Country Club and Golf course, you will find the best beer bar in the world according to Beer Advocate Magazine. Ebenezer’s Pub serves 35 Belgian beers on tap and over 700 well kept bottles.
By far, this is one of the most fantastic places to find beer anywhere. Upon our arrival, we were lucky enough to be carrying a camera. Often, this blatant exhibition of a photographic device will get you sneers, or at least sidewards glances of disquiet. However, we happened out of our vehicle just as one of the owners was entering his hallowed beer cellar. He shouted to us, “if you want some good photos, follow me.” We followed him into the basement of a house easily built before the Jackson administration had taken office. In this cellar of great bounty, there were kegs, there were bottles, there were barrels. It was a splendid sight to behold. At this point, we were shown what was promised as one of the most expensive bottles of beer, fetching a price of $2000 per 750mL bottle (I cannot verify this price or the type of beer, that’s the problem with writing a post too long after visiting). Further, we were shown bottles of a gueuze that were from the early 1900’s and others that were just discovered in the basement of a collector of unknown age.
Have I mentioned yet that we drank beer there too? No, I’ve just been droning on about seeing it. What was impressive here, is that there were beers from everywhere on tap. There were the Belgians (the favorite style of Ebenezer’s), a few Germans, and the West Coast’s favorites, the American Crafts. We had one of each (at least), in Ebenezer’s “pretend that you can taste all the drafts and walk out upright” size of 5oz tasters. As an example of what can be found there, the current draft menu includes Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA (limited to one per customer because of its 22% ABV) and Cantillon Kriek 2006 (a rare cherry lambic). In any case, the selection of beers is practically unrivaled. The only places that come close in selection are in large metropolitan areas, and don’t also serve delicious food, are on a beautiful lake (or ridiculously near), or have that selection on tap. Beer Revolution in Oakland comes close, but is a different scene altogether and fantastic in other ways as you will see in the future post about it.
As I said before, we actually ate a meal here too. It was a good meal, much better than at a sports bar or pub. But to truly get an amazing meal (and more beers too), the Belgian Beer Festival that Ebenezer’s puts on is an event to behold. Sadly, this information is second hand from my parents. While we were there, they were beginning their preparations for the fest, but our trip did not overlap with the event itself. Luckily, we have spies everywhere, and had them attend. They reported that the owner was pouring the last known bottles of certain beers, the opening night dinner was sold out and attended by participants from around the country and Europe, the Belgian food was better than the regular menu, and that they had to wait a spell before they could drive back home.
All in all, if you are in Maine and love beer, get here. I mean, you can only fly into Portland. Even if you are going to the coast, the trip inland is well worth it.
Further, this trip was an education for me. When we entered the cellar, the owner asked if we were beer aficionados. Of course we answered yes. What we didn’t know is that while we had a good working knowledge, there is always more to know, especially when it comes to Belgian beers. I thank Ebenezer’s for introducing us to the Gueuze. I hope you’ll introduce yourself to Ebenezer’s.