Ebenezer’s Restaurant & Pub Review

by Daniel on August 21, 2012

I had the opportunity to visit Ebenezer’s Restaurant and Pub in Lovell, Maine at the end of August.  It has been voted by Beer Advocate as the “Best Beer Bar in the World” five years in a row, and therefore was a must-visit for me even though it did involve a considerable amount of driving out of my way (an additional six hours to my trip).

Even with all of it’s awards, Ebenezer’s is very unassuming, and is located in a beautiful and remote area.  If you’re going to visit, plan ahead for the following reasons:  1.) Variable open hours depending on the season – call ahead to double check their open hours if you’re not sure–you don’t want to go all that way just to find out they’re closed.  Fortunately for me, they’re open every day in the summer, including opening at 11:30am on Sundays – which made it a perfect stop for lunch for me before driving the rest of the way home on my long trip.  2.) Lots of people choose to camp nearby or stay locally to get the full experience over a few days, so check your options and availabilities if you’re thinking of staying longer than just a day.

The beers they offer are incredible, both on tap and from their bottle collection.  You’re bound to find more than enough beer that you’ve never had before, and they’re worth the modest premium you pay.  Step inside and get a peek at what you can find at Ebenezer’s!

the porch at ebenezer’s

The entrance on the side opens first into the closed-in porch area which is great for larger groups and gets lots of light.  Inside there is a modest amount of seating at tables as well as about eight seats up at the bar.  Looking around the inside tables actually reminded me a little of the restaurant at Chimay in Belgium.  I sat at the bar so I could get a good view of as much as possible.  The serving staff are friendly and attentive as well as pretty knowledgeable about the beers available.  Chris and Jen Lively, the owners, weren’t around much during my visit as this was just a week before their huge annual Belgian Beer Festival.  I’m sure they were busy with preparations, but I’ve heard that they are extremely welcoming.

moules frites at ebenezer’s – fantastic!

I chose to order the moules frites (mussles & fries) as I was in a Belgian mood, as well as a bottle of Black Albert from their bottle selection.  Black Albert is a beer that the brewers at De Struise from Oostvleteren, Belgium originally made exclusively for Ebenezer’s!  It pours midnight black with a thick caramel head.  You can smell the heat with the smoke and dark fruit.  The flavor is like apple wood smoke with plum and dark malt dominating over the surprisingly low amount of detectable heat given the 13% ABV.  Goes great with my moules frites!  Finish lingers long of dark fruit with a hint of bitterness from the roasted malts.

wild pannepot quadrupel

Next the bartender was kind enough to give me just a taste of the Strada S. Felice (in an oak cask, served from a “Pazzo fortified madierized merlot barrel!”) by Birrificio Grado Plato since I wasn’t sure if I wanted a whole glass.  This unique cask beer was a perfect example of why Ebenezer’s is so special.  Sure, you can likely find places that have Strada S. Felice (or a bottle), but few to none that have this cask edition.  The pour is the color of whiskey, with little head.  Flavor is tart and sour I think owing much to the special cask.  I enjoyed it a lot, but decided to try another beer in order to try as many as possible in my visit while still being able to make it home!

I ordered the Wild Pannepot quad (on tap), also by De Struise Brouwers.  Pours dark with strong amber head.  The aroma is rich and hints at the wild yeast. Flavor is dark fruity/malt sweetness balanced by raspberry tartness in the middle from the yeast, with an almost red wine undertone and a hint of the heat. Finishes milky smooth and lingers tart and hot.

Next I went through two samples before ordering my last beer of the day (all on tap).  First was Karkade “Z” in gin/noir barrels by Birrificio L’Olmaia from Italy.  Just from the uniqueness I was intrigued.  The flavor was herbal, veggie, and some lemongrass.  It may be great for some and was certainly unique, but wasn’t what I was looking for as the last thing my palate would enjoy before I left.  Next I ventured to try the Vicaris Tripel blended with Girardian Gueuze, from Brouwerij Dilewyns in Belgium. To me, it tasted orangey-sour and astringent, not for me this time.

funniest order at ebenezer’s ever – seriously?

My final beer was the Gaverhopke Extra belgian dark strong by Brouwerij ‘t Gaverhopke.  It pours very deep copper, not black – translucent like the color of a brown beer bottle. Big vanilla head, discrete fruity tart aroma. Flavor is bold with dark fruit & sour cherries, with malty balance and caramel. Lingers very nicely just like the body of its original flavor, enticing you to have another sip.  I was pretty dismayed when my last sip was finally gone.

Overall Ebenezer’s delivered on all expectations, and now I’m just looking for another excuse to be out in Maine again–perhaps the Lion’s Pride Restaurant & Brewery in Brunswick, ME (sister pub of Ebenezer’s by the same owners).  Even though there were beers that weren’t for me, I can still appreciate that these are very scarce & special barrel-aged and blended beers you’re simply not going to find anywhere else.  With extremely knowledgeable staff that can direct you to beers you will like that are virtually impossible to find (and if you’re uncertain they happily give you a sample), you just can’t lose.  Furthermore, they ALWAYS serve it in the type of glass it was meant to be best appreciated in. Sure, you can also come for great food and get some Bud Light if you’re into that (yes, that photo above is of a real ticket order while I was there!), but I wouldn’t come far if that’s what you’re after.  However, I promise you if you’re into insane beers:  make the trip because it’s certainly worth it.  “Best Beer Bar in the World” definitely suits Ebenezer’s.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

keena March 19, 2014 at 8:25 pm

would not recommend it to anyone. the owners are amateurs who love to give you more froth than beer. the beer selection is nice but having to listen to chris lively is just painful

Reply

Daniel March 20, 2014 at 1:54 am

I’m sorry you had a bad experience. I found Chris very friendly and knowledgeable. Perhaps things have changed since I was there, or maybe they were just having a bad week.

Reply

carol March 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

weird location. very rough road getting there but once there it is quite the charm. unfortunately jessica, the bartender ruined any charm it may have had

Reply

Daniel March 20, 2014 at 1:52 am

Wow, sorry to hear you had such a negative experience. I guess it can probably vary based on time of year, how busy things are, and all kinds of other factors.

Reply

Mountainjack August 22, 2012 at 12:25 am

Dan: Thanx for reviewing my neighborhood tavern. We have a Lake Home in Maine just 10 mile from Ebenezer’s it is my favorite watering hole. If I’d have know you were going I’d have offered you our place to stay, this being the first time in 22 years we’ve not spent the summer there. Always have room for anyone from UNYHA (Tina has been there a couple times.) Sorry Chris wan’t around as he would have given you a ‘tour’ of his cellar (blown away is the only term I can think of to describe it.) When next you get up we’ll try and get you over to Chris’s Other Place , the Lions Pride, in Brunswick, Me. They may have their brewery open now but if not, it’s still worth the ride. Again, thanx for the nice review. Jack

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: