My friends the beer gods have smiled upon our sleepy town. Earlier this summer, a new beer bar, brewpub and restaurant opened on Pleasant Street. Hop heads and beer lovers rejoice: I give you The Lion's Pride! Brunswick just got a whole lot better.
As you walk into The Lion's Pride, you'll be bombarded by a barrage of beer posters and murals dedicated to some of the world's great craft brewers: Mikkeller, Dogfish Head, Chimay, Surly and Port Brewing to name a few. Through the interior windows you'll spy some beautiful copper brew kettles and fermenters, which hopefully will be put to use by brewmaster Michael Lacharite sometime this fall. To the left is restaurant seating, which fills up quickly for dinner on the weekends. To the right is the real attraction of this classy establishment—the bar.
A few vital statistics: 35 taps, 100 plus bottles, with wine and spirits as well. The counter and bar consist of beautiful weathered copper and dark wood paneling. The tap handles are all hand-blown glass, which is a welcome change from the mishmash of branded handles found in most bars. Above the line of taps hangs a large blackboard displaying the daily beer selection. The tap list at The Lion's Pride is quite simply astounding. I'm not sure you could find as many Belgian beers on-tap in Brussels. World-class. We're talking Chimay, St. Bernardus, Urthel, La Chouffe, Piraat, just to name a few. There's even beer from Cantillon and De Struise available, though one will have to pay a premium to sample these rarities. Aside from the Belgians, there are quite a few domestic offerings as well, with beer from Dogfish Head, Weyerbacher, Allagash, Smuttynose, Sierra Nevada and Stone almost always available. The bottle selection is equally impressive and extensive. In time, The Lion's Pride will prove to be one of the premiere beer destinations in the United States, which is no surprise considering who owns the establishment.
Chris Lively has been in the restaurant and beer business for years and is no stranger to success: his original pub, Ebenezer's in Lovell, Maine, has been voted the number one beer restaurant in the world by both Beeradvocate Magazine and RateBeer.com. Now he brings that award-winning tradition to Brunswick. In creating The Lion's Pride, Lively wanted a hipper, more up-scale version of his original pub. This desire is reflected in both the décor and menu, which includes sophisticated appetizers and entrees such as Lamb Lollipops and Lobster Ravioli. However, Lively emphasizes that, "This place is for everyone—beer geeks, couples, locals and college students."
In fact, Lively looks forward to hosting Bowdoin students at The Lion's Pride, expressing the possibility of a weekly "Bowdoin Night" at the bar. But even if this does not happen in the near future, Bowdoin students can still look forward to an Oktoberfest celebration sometime in—you guessed it—October, and an IPA Festival in early November.
As mentioned earlier, the Pride's tap-list is world-class, so you can't go wrong with anything they're serving. That said, here are a few of the more approachable brews I scoped out on my last visit. These are beers that build upon the suggestions from my previous column.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale and Festina Peche
Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery produces some of the most interesting beer in the United States. This self-proclaimed "off-centered" brewery crafts over 25 beers, many of which have extensive recipes calling for ingredients such as Palo Santo wood, Aztec cocoa powder, crystallized ginger and juniper berries. Punkin Ale is Dogfish Head's fall seasonal, brewed with real pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. Punkin is sweet and rich, with a nice tangy aftertaste and behind-the-scenes nutmeg and cinnamon flavor. Festina Peche is Dogfish Head's variation on the Berliner Weisse style, a sour wheat beer from Berlin that is often mixed with berry or woodruff flavored syrup. The Festina Peche is tart, but extremely refreshing and light, with fruity notes from the real peaches used in the brewing process.
Kölsch is a German beer style hailing from Köln (Cologne), Germany and the surrounding areas. Reissdorf Kölsch is a highly drinkable ale that is actually reminiscent of some light lagers. This beer exhibits fruity, grassy flavors and a moderate hop bitterness. It's one of the classic examples of this obscure German style. At less than five percent alcohol, the Reissdorf is also a beer that you could drink all night long.
Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
Here are two brews from the UK that sound intimidating, but are actually very approachable. Young's Double Chocolate Stout is a sweet, dark beer from England. Although the name suggests otherwise, this stout is neither very strong nor overly heavy. The chocolate flavors combine with a milky, creamy mouthfeel, shaping a beer that would pair well with dessert, or even substitute for it all together. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil hails from Scotland and is classified as an Old Ale, though it closely resembles a stout. Again, despite the big name, this beer is a modest six percent alcohol and (thankfully) tastes nothing like motor oil. Rather, the flavor is rich, malty and dry, with a deliciously roasty, almost peaty aftertaste.
The Lion's Pride is located on Pleasant Street, next to the Dunkin Donuts near the Stanwood Street/Route 1 traffic light. The restaurant and bar are open daily from noon until 1am (or close), serving lunch and dinner until 9pm. Unfortunately, the Bowdoin Shuttle will not transport students to and from the Lion's Pride, so plan accordingly.