Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, Maine

Time for a cool dip at Echo Lake
State Park
When the mercury starts to rise in New England, there are a few places you can choose to escape to: 1) your local beach 2) Cape Cod 3) All any and all points north. In our case, after rationing out how much we could spend on a little long weekend, we searched all options and came up with the most economical, being to head for the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The bigger half and I found an incredible deal at the Spruce Moose Lodge, run by a most gracious couple (Leon and Nellie Filip), and snuggled down for some cool mountain air and nice conversation... not to mention hearty, delicious breakfasts each morning (oh my god the potato pancakes... hot damn).
View from the top of
Mt. Washington
Our visit was action packed and filled with adventures consisting of that must do ride up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, my favorite Wolfman and intelligent bears at Clark's Trading Post, a dip in Echo Lake, and another in the Lower Falls swimming hole on the Kancamangus. Everything was refreshing and wonderful, just the right amount of relaxing and fresh air to take away those aches and pains of the work week.
Best swimming hole ever:
Lower Falls on the Kanc
But sometimes, my friends, touristy places are a little lack luster for culinary delights beyond the local fudge shop or a non-memorable Irish bar or two. North Conway, I think, has its hits and misses. However, if you're willing to take a 25 minute drive over the Maine border to a little town called Lovell, man, are you in for a spectacular boozy treat. Lovell, Maine is world famous among beer aficionados due to a little place called Ebenezer's Pub, and seriously, if you're staying in Conway, Jackson, or anywhere on that side of the Kanc, you are doing yourself an injustice if you don't put in that extra energy and make the trip to a restaurant with one of the greatest on tap beer lists I've ever experienced.
Welcome to Ebenezer's
Fun semi-outdoor seating
The restaurant itself is lovely, located down a quiet road and with no other businesses on that street. There's a large outside area, complete with toys for families with little kids, so the children can roll around on the grass, and the parents can get a little medicine, if you catch my meaning. There's further seating inside a little porch area, with nice long tables, and then the indoor bar area with a few other little tables and TVs if you can't be drawn away or you prefer having premium beer while watching the game. Clientele ranges from rich vacationers to college kids to families to beer nerds to a good batch of hearty locals. Service is excellent. Our young server was quick to check on us, and also had a knowledge of every beer on the list, ready to talk up whatever favorite sours she had, and also pointing out a good beer to end with due to it's combination of amazing complexity, and simultaneous harmony of flavors.
So once seated, it's on like Donkey Kong. After reading through every beer available on draft, ones head goes into a strategic battle of what to order while also strategizing on how much you can order, because let's face it, you have a drive home, and one of you is a designated driver, so the other is going to have to take one for the safe driving team and drink most of the other's beers. Lucky me, I'm always the utility drinker on this team. Seriously, be safe, kids, this one is all too tempting. Now that the mommy state has said her piece, it's on to the imbibing.
Gaverhopke Extra
1) The Gaverhopke Extra: It's rare when the first beer of the evening ends up the one that I liked the best. But this beer was phenomenal. It's a Belgian quad with a fruity aroma, slightly sweet flavor, a large kick of the sours, and this distinct caramel taste throughout. The beer is frothy with a nice head, and so dry at the back end that you'd think you're drinking a beer with a far lighter touch of alcohol. Be not fooled, this is a hardcore beer. It's plum and dark cherry notes are also easily detected. It's a quad with a bit of lambic, malty attitude, and I really liked it.
La Rulles Grande
2) La Rulles Grande: The bigger half drew first on the La Rulles. It's a very light colored beer, first smelling of fruit like apple and pears, but on first sip, these fruit notes slowly give way to the flavor of spicy, bitter hops and a touch of honey. This was another winner.
Karkade "Z"
3) Karkade "Z" Gin/Noire Barrels: I had been tempted by the menu on this beer. Just the mention of a beer that was aged in gin barrels, and therefore has distinct zesty juniper notes was too much to keep me from ordering it. The smell of the beverage is that of hibiscus, which is amazing and so lovely from smell to sip to swallow. The beer is very floral, grassy, and just overall nice and herbal.
Brettanomyces Lambicus
4) Brettanomyces Lambicus: Obviously, Belgium beers are known for the stinky barnyard funk. Ebenezer's embraced this characteristic by offering up the Brettanomyces Lambicus on draft. This beer was so sour, so barnyardy, grassy, scents of hay and the sours reminiscent of a rice wine vinegar. This may sound like a horrible and disgusting description, now that I read it, but I am reluctant to change anything. That's how this beer tasted, and it was a sour that was meant to satisfy great fans of this style of beer, and I found it "Robert Palmer" simply irresistible.
Hofstetten Aurora
5) Hofstetten Aurora: Being the wuss that he is (just kidding, he's awesome), the Bigger Half ordered one of his new obsession beers, a Keller beer, which is a great session beer as it's low in alcohol. This refreshing beer was light and malty with hints of strawberry and a flavor of Heffeweizen wheat. If I were to choose one beer to drink all summer, this one might be it. 
Sour Nora
6) Sour Nora: Since you already know that I'm a fan of sour beers, you know I had to order up another one. The Sour Nora did not disappoint. It had a very puckery sour citrus flavor with a lot of grassy and grainy notes afterwards. This beer tasted very similar to my favorite beer of all time, which you may or may not know is the Duchess de Bourgogne. The major difference was that this beer lacked some of the funk that is present in the Duchess, and therefore, the Sour Nora was a bit more smooth. Loved it.
Wild Pannepot
7) Wild Pannepot: The Wild Pannepot was the beer that our server recommended to end the session with, and it was fabulous. So many flavors rock around ones mouth with this beer, from a smooth flavor of alcohol to dark liquorish hints, bitter coffee notes, and then the fruity sweet and malty nature of what one experiences when biting into a sugary date. In a way, I kind of wished we had started with this beer instead of finishing with it, because it had so much that was worthy of discussion, but by the end of the tasting of beer after beer, it just tasted like a very interesting beer. I'll definitely be back for more of the Wild Pannepot.
In addition to having the most wonderful draft beer list, Ebenezer's also had that extra special something that I often find diverse beer bars completely lack: good food. The menu is extensive, but if you choose no fail beer items, you won't be disappointed. We ordered three things:
Thai wings
1) The Thai Wings: Who doesn't love wings with beer? But what about fresh from the fryer, crunchy, spicy, salty, sweet wings? These were delicious. The right amount of heat on those tiny little drum sticks and the characteristic "suck the meat between the two bones" wings were perfect. The meat was juicy and cooked to a great temperature where everything was still tender contrasting the crunchy coating. The wings also came with blue cheese dressing and the right amount of celery and carrots to dip so you can tell your mom that you ate your vegetables.
Caesar salad
2) Caesar Salad: I happen to really like Caesar salads. Perhaps because they're kind of hard to screw up. But, just a tip, if you have a large heaping of romaine lettuce with a nice tangy, salty dressing, this helps to make you feel a bit more sober throughout your tasting. Plus, Ebenezer's actually does make a legitimately well balanced Caesar.
... and frites
3) Moules Frites: I can never resist mussels or fries... period. It's a simple dish, should be hard to screw up, and generally comes in generous portions. Our fries were crispy and not oily, stacked high in a cone, and nice and starchy to soak up all the alcohol, thereby prolonging our dinner. Plus, who doesn't love good thick fries? (If you don't like them, you're not my friend.) The mussels arrive in a little cooking pot, heaped to the top. They're really another great sharing and snacking dish, great for discussion and exercising those little fingers. The seafood itself was plump and perfectly cooked, giving way to all those briny, livery, and sweet flavors as you chew through. The broth, as the mussels are steamed in a combination of Belgian beer (I think Stella Artois) and their own juices, was equally as tasty, and great for slurping with the mussels, or as a dunking element for the fries.
That concludes our virgin visit to Ebenezer's. I hope that I've encouraged you to take a little visit to the White Mountains and plan on at least one dinner at what has been voted many times over as one of the greatest beer bars in America. I was skeptical that a place that is located a bit in the middle of nowhere could have such a great beer list with clean taps, tasty food, and an ample supply of clientele ready to imbibe very special beers. I was happily proven that such a heaven does exist. It is real. And you should go there. Now.

44 Allen Road
Lovell, ME 04051


  1. Thorough review! Ebz is a terrific place.

    1. Thanks, Steve! I can't wait until I can go back. Soooo many good beers.