I visited the Lewiston Village Pub for the first time on a rain-soaked Thursday night, hurrying past its outdoor patio and dodging puddles as I ducked into the front door. It turns out I couldn't have asked for a better place to wait out a summer storm.

The long bar greets you the moment you walk in, and a half dozen small tables sit in a large, open area on your right. David and I found two open stools and cozied up to the bar. One of two bartenders, Charlene, greeted us within minutes.

The Lewiston Village Pub offers more than 40 beers on tap on a rotating basis, with prices from $4 to $7 a glass. There are almost three times as many bottled selections, with most ranging in price from $2.50 to $4. Overwhelmed by options, I asked Charlene for suggestions. She didn't hesitate, asking my taste preferences and responding to my pitifully vague "not too dark, not too light" with four different samples she thought I might enjoy. I sipped on each and chose a glass of a delicious English pale ale called Monty Python's Holy Grail. David chose Smithwicks, an Irish red ale.

We sipped on our drinks, enjoying the casual and welcoming atmosphere. Beer logos and signs decked the walls, and seven huge, flat-screen TVs showed baseball and soccer games. The music blaring from the large, wall-mounted speaker over the door ranged from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Coldplay to Arcade Fire, and a lounge area tucked in the back of the building offered a pool table, several arcade games and darts.

There was roughly a dozen people at the bar and a table of four buddies enjoying some Bud Lights when we first arrived, a crowd Charlene said was light for a Thursday night, but more people filtered in as the night went on. She added customers at the Village Pub are in large part Lewiston locals, many of whom she knows by name and favorite beverage. The crowd is eclectic in age range -- everyone from twentysomethings to retirees would feel welcome.

After spotting the girls to our left digging into a platter of chicken fingers, David and I decided to indulge in a basket of sweet potato fries. I'm so glad we did -- they were the best I ever had, fried crispy and tossed to a mouth-watering honey-butter glaze.

The Village Pub offers a full menu and dining room until 10 p.m. on weekends and 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, but its late-night menu -- boasting standards like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks and pizza logs besides those heavenly fries -- is served until the bar closes. I washed them down with a cool, refreshing Harp Irish Lager.

Though I'm no local, the Lewiston Village Pub's friendly and knowledgeable bartenders and fun, casual atmosphere are enough to make anyone come back for a second visit. With hundreds of beers to choose from, this is a perfect place to while away a summer night.

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Lewiston Village Pub

840 Center St., Lewiston 405-7017

Scene: A friendly and casual beer-lovers paradise for locals and out-of-towners alike.

Drinks: Beers galore, both draft and bottled, plus a good amount of wines and liquors.

Dress code: Casual, from jeans and sneakers to polo shirts and sundresses.

Entertainment: A bar-friendly playlist full of rock, punk and alternative hits, plus a pool table, arcade games and darts.

Hours: Opens at 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. Friday and noon Saturday and Sunday.