Denied: Heady Topper Impossible to Get Outside Vermont

Yesterday, a frigid twenty-degree Sunday here in Maine, we decided to travel down to Portland to try a beer bar recommended by everyone we know who loves great craft beer. Novare Res Bier Cafe is  located in Portland’s Old Port section, one of the country’s up and coming Ten Places to Visit Before You Die (says me).

We were the first customers there besides a couple of people at the bar, and our bartender/server Nick spent a lot of time with us, going over their beer menu, which boasts 25 rotating taps, 2 hand pumps over 500 bottles of hand-crafted beers from all over the world. In fact, their beer “list” is more like a bound book and descibes the different styles as well as makes your mouth water at the seemingly infinite possibilities. (They also have wines, tequila and single malt Scotch, in case you were wondering).

Photo: we'rethe only ones here come join us

After pondering an approach to take, Nick offered us a sample of all 12 of the Maine-made draft beers. While sipping and sharing, I asked Nick if they had an IPA from Vermont called Heady Topper. I had heard from some old friends that it was delicious. The previous evening, I read an article from MSN Money that Heady Topper is so popular and hard to get, that a person was charged for selling five cases on Craigslist for $825. The article went on to chronicle other examples of black market buying and selling of hard to find brews.

Nick said the beer is so popular,  there are lines out the door of the brewery when it goes on sale. Quoting the owner of The Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont, maker of Heady Topper, it was recently rated Number 1 by The Beer Advocate magazine.

Photo: love the Allagash Curieux

We had a great time sampling the Maine-made draft brews. Our favorites: Allagash Curieux, aged in Jim Beam barrels; OxBow India Pale Ale and Allagash Entrepot. If you are in Portland, Maine or are planning a trip, put Novare Res Bier Cafe on your GPS.

As for me, I’m getting ready to travel to Vermont to get me some of that delicious Heady Topper.

Kate Cone

About Kate Cone

Kate Cone has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, is a freelance writer and the author of "What's Brewing in New England: A Guide to Brewpubs and Microbreweries," published by Downeast Publications in 1997. She is currently updating What's Brewing with a second book about New England craft beer to be published in 2015.