Thursday, March 21, 2013

Return to Ebenezer's: Pride of Lovell, Maine

Ebenezer's in Lovell, Maine
Ebenezer's is in direct competition with Novare Res in Portland to be my favorite beer bar in Maine,or for that matter, the North American continent. But I can never truly choose. Like snowflakes, they are unique and I don't think you could replicate either bar in any other area than the one that they are currently located. But Ebenezer's holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. Number one: they're located in a little town where there's really little else. Number two: while a warm summer evening, sharing beers with locals and tourists on the porch is great, there's nothing I'd rather do on a frozen winter night than hunker down with a good beer and some soak it all up, quality grub. Third, and most important: the sours. So many Belgian sours.
Great atmosphere
On this particular occasion, after a day of skiing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, tired but determined, we made the half hour driver over to Lovell to taste as many beers as we safely could. This is an easy task at Ebenezer's as the draft and bottle list are well curated to say the least. You'll find the rarest of the rare on the bottle list, including a number of beers from the Cantillon Brewery which no longer imports to the United States. The draft list is just as impressive. So many beers that you may never get to taste on draft again, and have been specifically chosen for how good they do taste when served straight from the tap. Servers are knowledgeable and all have their favorites... they obviously love where they work and are happy to discuss all their pours.
After much consultation and debate with servers and other patrons, we went for five different beers.
Vapeur Saison de Pipaix
Vapeur Saison de Pipaix: This was a great sour ale to try first. It starts out with a mildly vinegary smell, and has a smooth, round, robust taste. The beer is just funky enough without repelling people who aren't indoctrinated into the world of sour beers. There's also a little bit of a malty, liquorish flavor near the end.
Piwo Grodziskie
Piwo Grodziskie: This beer, light golden in color, had a beautiful foamy head. Slightly misleading with all that gorgeous white piled up, the beer was only a touch fizzy, and had a great tart, lemony flavor. Again, a bit of funk without going overboard.
Mort Subite White Lambic: This white lambic tasted as I should have expected. It smelled of ripe white peaches, and was ever so comforting. This was a beer to introduce girls who don't like beer to a genuinely tasty beer, for lack of a better way to put it. Just tell them it's soda. They won't know or care after a few of the Mort Subite.
Echt Kriekbier
Echt Kriekbier: Juxtapose the white lambic, this was a gnarly, serious, guttural beverage. It's your final beer type of beer. The kind that you sip while sitting in front of a fire, clutching a shot gun and listening to Amy Winehouse on repeat type of beer. Deep cherry flavors, and an aftertaste akin to a burly red wine, there was funk and a vinegar sour taste to really savor.
Abbey St Bon Chien
Abbey St Bon Chien on Pommau Oak: This beer was highly recommended by the regulars at the bar. While debating on which beer to end with before heading out on the road, we wanted something special. Seeing that we were fans of the Belgian-style sours, they immediately shouted the name of the Bon Chien. I've had bottles on a few special occasions, and always felt that the lightly fizzy, tart funk of the beer was one unique to any others that I've had. Perhaps closest in flavor to the deep red, round tones of my favorite beer, the Duchesse Bourgogne, I was not prepared for the extra depth and richness that the Abbey St Bon Chien had developed by aging in Pommau Oak barrels. It had a nice pucker at first sip, a robust earthiness from the barrels, a thicker than water mouth feel, and just a touch of bubbles. The aroma is hay bale heaven. Truly an enjoyable and special beer for the cold winter months.
Now, if you're going to be imbibing a number of beverages, I can't stress enough how helpful it is to have some hearty, tasty food, and plenty of water to keep you on your game. Ebenezer's will rise to the occasion. Whoever is cooking the steak tips at this place has got it right. On this occasion, we were very satisfied by two items featuring the tips.
Capitola Salad
The Capitola Salad: This hearty salad of mixed greens, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, walnuts, and lovely pink in the middle, sliced steak tips was tossed with a sweet, salty, tart balsamic dressing. It was a great filling meal after a day of skiing, and substantial enough to soak up all of those beers.
Ebenezer's Sirloin Tips
Ebenezer's Sirlion Tips: The same perfectly cooked tips, tender and pink in the middle, are served hot along side a heap of starchy fries. You know what you're getting, and let's face it, at a Belgian beer bar, they should be able to do a pretty darn good version of steak frites. Try the frite sauce too, a tangy mayo to dip your fries.
I can't say enough about this bar. It's been voted "Best Beer Bar in the World" something like 12 times. No wait, 13 times; it says so right on the menu. So, if you're looking for a reason to visit the little town of Lovell, Maine, you've got it. Saddle up, order up some food to soak up your beverages, and get ready for a fabulous experience that won't leave you feeling "sour." Cheers.

Ebenezer's Pub
44 Allen Rd
Lovell, ME 04051

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