In 2004, a tiny pub in rural Lovell, Me., (population 1,140) began a transformation into what is now regarded as one of the best craft beer bars on the planet. Located nearly three hours from Boston and tucked up against the White Mountain National Forest, Ebenezer’s Pub has drawn drinkers from dozens of foreign countries to taste beers from a cellar that, with more than 1,000 bottles, feels like a thorough reference library devoted to Belgian brewing legacy. Since owners Chris and Jen Lively took over more than a decade ago, it’s been given a 100 rating by BeerAdvocate and a 99 consumer rating by users at RateBeer.com. Men’s Journal has called it the Best Beer Bar in America.
“I let my cellar breathe,” explains Chris Lively. “You know, most people believe in cold-storage, dark, yada yada yada. Well, there is another way of doing it.” In person, Lively’s zealous affect is reminiscent of Dennis Hopper (more Apocalypse Now than Blue Velvet). “We let it get warm in here, we let it get too humid, we let it dry,” he says. “I don’t wanna know the science. I’m doing all of this by feel. Please show me a better cellar anywhere in the world.”
Chris recently curated a spectacular tasting in his cellar for Bloomberg, cracking open decades-old Belgian beers, along with some fresher creations that are super-rare. On occasion, he blended two beers to create something totally new, a talent that showcases his true love for, and understanding of, beer.