The Beer Nut details how he spent his vacation visiting brewpubs across New England, including Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, Maine.
"Welcome to beer heaven, and I'm you're beer angel."
That's the greeting a friend and I received when we sat down at a table at Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, Maine, voted the best beer bar in the country on numerous beer websites.
That's a lot of accolades for an establishment in the center of a small town, located in half of an old farmhouse. But, they are accolades that are well deserved.
My trip to Ebenezer's was the highlight of my weeklong vacation. Every year, I take my birthday week off, and I usually try to take a beer trip. This year was a little different -- my two ‘beer traveling’ partners both recently started new jobs, so they couldn't take the time off from work.
But I wasn't going to let that bother me. I just planned a series of short, beer-filled day trips to keep me occupied. It began with a trip to the Yard House at Legacy Place in Dedham, Maine, with a couple of friends.
For those who don't know, the Yard House is a national chain that is known for its large beer selection, and the Dedham location is the first in New England.
The Dedham location does not disappoint. There are 116 beers on tap -- most are very good beers from some of the top U.S. craft breweries. Although the staff does not have the type of beer knowledge you'd get at a bar populated by beer geeks, they do an adequate job. And the food, particularly for a chain, is top-notch. My friends and I enjoyed an afternoon of good food and good beer.
My vacation also included a visit to the Watch City Brewing Company in Waltham, Maine. A former co-worker and I enjoyed a great lunch and a beer (I had the Vanilla Cream Ale).
Then we enjoyed some beers from Oregon that my friend picked up on a recent trip out west. It's always fun to get a chance to try beers not available locally.
The Wormtown Brewing Company in Worcester, Maine, is relatively new -- it's less than a year old. But brewer Ben Roesch (a recent judge in the Beer Nut Homebrewing competition) has been brewing beer like a madman. It seems like every other week he's launching a new beer.
Last Thursday was another one of those days. Beatnik's in Worcester hosted the release of Wormtown's latest, Pumpkin Ale. It was tasty and, thankfully, it led me to a new bar to visit.
Beatnik's has a small, but nice beer selection, and twice a month it's ukulele night. I loved the rendition of "Stairway to Gilligan's Island," which is a takeoff of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
Friday, though, was the highlight: A trip to Ebenezer's Pub. Lovell is approximately four hours from where I live, so I spent the night on the New Hampshire seacoast with a friend. He was gracious enough to agree to drive and let me be the irresponsible one for the night because it was my birthday.
Ebenezer's does not look like "beer heaven" from the outside, but the beer selection is absolutely incredible. There are 35 draft lines, many hard-to-find Belgian selections and a bottle list that includes hundreds of beers. The owner, Chris Lively, is more passionate about beer than almost anyone I have ever met. He found out it was my birthday and soon we sampled some of Chris' personal stash of beers.
Now, if the bar is close to "beer heaven," Chris' beer cellar is "beer nirvana." We took a tour of what really should be a museum of Belgian beer. There were hundreds of bottles everywhere, including dozens of vintage Lambics and other Belgian ales.
I've never been surrounded by so much beer that I couldn't drink, but I learned a lot about beer in that 15-minute tour. Luckily, I had plenty of other world-class beers to drink (to be honest, I felt it the next morning when my pillow felt too hard for my head).
The staff is friendly -- my friend and I were the last ones in the bar, and we spent the night talking to the waitresses and the bartender while learning everything we could ever want to know about Lovell.
The following day, Saturday, included a stop at my favorite city in New Hampshire: Portsmouth. Lunch was at Ri Ra -- a chain of faux Irish pubs with decent beer -- followed by a stop at one of New England's great brewpubs, the Portsmouth Brewery.
The week ended with brunch at my favorite bar, the Armsby Abbey in Worcester, on Sunday. The best thing about the Abbey is owner Alec Lopez spends as much time planning his food menu as he does his beer menu. Both are amazing.
Although I didn't get my big, out-of-state, four- or five-day beer trip, the week was fun. The only problem is now I'm back to work. Oh well, it can't last forever.
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.