The local bars in Brunswick each have something they’re good for. Joshua’s is a good place to end (or begin) a night out. Sea Dog is a good place to bring your folks and your roommates on Family Weekend. Ebenezer’s Brewpub, just about a mile from campus on Route One, is good for beer.

Ebenezer’s Brewpub is the home of Lively Brewing, a Maine brewery started by Chris Lively. Lively is also the owner of the original, world-famous Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine. A neat piece of trivia: the original Ebenezer’s was rated “the best beer bar in the world” by veritable beer authorities such as Draft Magazine and BeerAdvocate (the latter awarded the title five years in a row). For a bar in middle of nowhere, Maine, that’s an accolade almost as surprising as it is impressive. 

The praise for the original Ebenezer’s is due to its incredible selection of beer. The pub boasts a whopping thirty-five taps dedicated to Belgian beers, but what has perhaps earned them their reputation is its impressive collection of cellared beers: Ebenezer’s houses over seven hundred bottles of aged beer, many of which are rare and highly coveted by beer connoisseurs. 

Yes, it might surprise you to learn that certain beers can be cellared. Not all beers take to aging (hoppy beers especially are best right after they are brewed, when the hops are still fresh and aromatic), but the ones that do often mature into boozier, complex versions of themselves. Beers that are suitable for cellaring—typically beers with heartier constitution and higher alcohol content, such as imperial stouts or barleywines—are of course ready to be enjoyed when they hit the market, but cellaring is a fun way for beer geeks to experiment with the different flavorful evolutions a beer can undergo over time.

Ebenezer’s Brewpub has a more narrow and specific selection: here in Brunswick, the pub only offers its own beer—beer brewed under the Lively name. The Brewpub usually has between eight and ten beers available, and the list grows and rotates over the course of time to showcase new brews. The changing selection means that a trip to Ebenezer’s is a chance to experience the brewer’s different experiments and refinements. And you can pretty much count on the fact that you’re drinking it fresh.

Lively Brewing (as I’ll refer to the brewing end of the operation) has a noticeable preference for Belgian beers, and they populate the menu, with fun names like “Brother Broseph” and “the Beaut.” I’m careful to generalize about my experience, given the changeable nature of the menu so there are bound to be hits and misses. I’ve preferred the brewery’s Belgian-inspired Saisons and Abbey Ales over its hoppier attempts. This is possibly with the exception of the Belgian Witbier, which underwhelmed. 

The pale ales and IPAs hadn’t quite found the right balance, and packed a citrus rind-y punch without much compliment from the malt. In all fairness, however, I prefer IPAs and pale ales that aim at a more tropical or dank hop profile.
My favorite beers at Ebenezer’s so far have been the dark beers. I’ve sampled three so far (note: doing research for this column is more fun than doing research for my classes), each a different style, and in body, nose, flavor, and complexity, each had proven to be the best beer of the night. 

Now, it usually isn’t a good idea to group beers by their color, as color isn’t a trustworthy indication of flavor or style. But I’ll still venture this evaluation given that it’s remained true over a range of styles: I’ve had a Dubbel, a rye, and an American Porter that were each distinct in flavor, but united in their supremacy over the rest of the menu. If you’re planning to head over to the Brewpub soon, I recommend a glass of the Lively Rye, a smooth, medium-bodied beer with a boozy sweetness that conjures up notes of dried fruit, and ends with a dry, almost tart finish.