The owners of The King’s Head in Portland share a passion for quality craft beer and are adding to the current 29 beers on tap. In fact, by the time this review is published, the 3-month-old gastropub on Commercial Street likely will have an additional five tap lines.
The owners of The King’s Head in Portland share a passion for quality craft beer and are adding to the current 29 beers on tap. In fact, by the time this review is published, the 3-month-old gastropub on Commercial Street likely will have an additional five tap lines. And by October, a second bar area with five taps will accent the dining room.
The vision Ricky Binet and Justin O’Connor had for The King’s Head was always to offer 40 draft beers. Once everything is installed, this number will surpass the rotating taps at beloved beer hall Novare Res.
“We felt like there wasn’t a place that was offering a world-class beer list accompanied by very high-quality food,” O’Connor said, “and that’s what you’ll find here.”
On a recent night, Amager Envy and Gluttony IPAs from Denmark were on tap, as well as Thornbridge Halcyon IPA out of England, Dieu du Ciel from Quebec, local brews like Bissell and Banded Horn, and even Prosecco.
Binet says “there will be no comfort beer” on tap, which means if you’re looking for Pabst Blue Ribbon and the like, you won’t find it here.
But the prices are still reasonable, ranging from $6 to $9 for beer, $8 to $11 for wine by the glass, and $10 for cocktails (mojito, margarita, Pimm’s Cup, Prom Queen).
“A lot of places will have seven to eight great beers and the rest will be familiar,” Binet said. “I want to challenge people. I want them to find they like something and know they can come back for it. I won’t do the filler beer.”
Beers from Mikkeller Brewery out of Copenhagen are among Binet’s favorites to feature. Internationally acclaimed as “one of the most innovative and cutting edge brewers in the world,” Mikkeller is not necessarily easy to come by.
“I’ll probably get three to four weeks notice and we don’t even know what we’re going to get,” Binet said, “and I’ll have to grab as much as I can.”
Binet says it’s good to have competition in town because otherwise he’d be forced to buy beers he doesn’t need or want.
The King’s Head – a common name for pubs where Binet used to live in Yorkshire, England – is a 76-seat gastropub with 26 stools at a wide, round bar, a separate dining room with ample natural light that streams in from the pier and a kitchen that is whipping up a modern pub-style menu that features a $12 lunchtime lobster roll and a $21 lobster dinner, as well as fish and chips, pot pies, lamb and beef burgers, Scotch eggs, salads and more.
“If you open the kind of place you want to be in,” O’Connor said, “it’s a fun job.” O’Connor, whose father and uncle are both carpenters, plans to do some of the work on the new bar, which will be made from an 11-foot slab of reclaimed wood.
The service at The King’s Head is exceptional – O’Connor says they didn’t necessarily hire the staff based on experience, but rather personality. Even still, the bartender was very knowledgeable and encouraged guests to sample any beers they didn’t know.
“I want to have a draft list that people go, ‘Wow, that’s the best draft list in town,’ ” Binet said. “I want them to say, ‘Every time I come in here there’s different stuff you can’t find anywhere else.’ ”
Next month, expect to see new German beers in time for Oktoberfest.
WHERE: 254 Commercial St. (Pierce Atwood building)
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. until late seven days a week
SPECIALS: $2 appetizers 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; a rotating beer list
AMENITIES: One large flat screen, ample seating at the bar, free legal advice (not really)
BOTTOM LINE: Rustic but polished, The King’s Head is part English-style pub and part American-style beer hall. It currently has 29 artisanal beers on tap, with plans to add 11 more. The service is friendly and helpful, the food is exceptional and the location can’t be beat.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes