Category Archives: Portland Maine Beer Bars

Barfly’s View: Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub in Portland, ME

Gritty McDuff's Brew Pub in Portland, Maine

Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub in Portland, Maine’s Old Port neighborhood is “Maine’s original brew pub”—it was Maine’s first brew pub since the end of prohibition, and it opened in 1988. I stopped by Gritty’s for a few pints a couple of weeks ago during Portland Beer Week, and it turned out to be one of my favorite watering holes I found in a city that’s packed with quality drinking establishments.

The brew pub is just a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, and you can see the waterfront area through a back window on clear days. The bar is topped with shiny, battered copper. The bartender was friendly and quick to offer recommendations for other nearby bars and attractions. I didn’t have any food, but I Gritty’s offers a wide range of pub grub.

All of the “real ales” at Gritty McDuff’s are brewed on premise, and it shows; the beers I had were extremely fresh. I’d had a few different Gritty’s beers before my visit; Gritty’s Black Fly Stout isn’t difficult to find in my home city of Boston. But the draft version I had at the brew pub was even more delicious, a truly fine stout.

Gritty McDuff's Mug Club mugs

Gritty’s Mug Club mugs hanging above the bar

Gritty’s regulars can pay $75 a year to join its Mug Club, which gets you a 21-ounce, white ceramic mug of your own and five more ounces of brew for the same price as the standard 16-ounce pints. Five-year Mug Club members get special colored mugs that are even larger. And every Gritty’s pub—there are two more of them, in Freeport and Lewiston/Auburn, Maine—offers two-dollar drafts for Mug Club members two nights a week.

If you’re ever in Portland and have a hankerin’ for a real ale, you’ll find a friend in Gritty McDuff’s.

UBN

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5 Maine Breweries That Should be on Your Radar

State of Maine Map

Earlier this month, I hopped a train from Boston to Portland, Maine for Portland Beer Week. And I quickly realized that Portland is not only a beautiful city on the Atlantic ocean, but it has an amazing craft beer scene. Portland and the entire state of Maine are home to a handful of world-class breweries and beer bars.

Here’s a list of five Maine breweries you should be aware of, two of which you’ve probably heard of and three you’ll very likely be hearing more about in the not-too-distant future.

1) Allagash Brewing Co.

Allagash Brewing Co. Dubble Ale

Portland-based Allagash is already well known, thanks to its top-notch Belgian-style white ale, which is available throughout the United States. In fact, many folks outside of New England simply call that white ale “Allagash,” and they’re not aware that the brewery also makes a number of additional high-quality Belgian styles. (I’m partial to its Confluence wild ale and Hugh Malone Belgian IPA.) Read more about Allagash on the brewery’s website.

2) Maine Beer Co.

Maine Beer Company's Lunch IPA

Maine Brewing Company, also based in Portland, is the Maine brewery that I’m most impressed with. I’ve been drinking Maine Beer Co. brews for a couple of years now, and I’ve never met one I did not like. I would be very surprised if the popularity of this small, humble Maine brewery—with the motto, “Do what’s right”—doesn’t spread like wild fire through the United States and beyond. Maine Beer’s Lunch IPA is one of the best IPAs I have ever had. (Read my review of Lunch here.) Learn more about Maine Beer Co. on the brewer’s website.

3) Oxbow Brewing Co.

Oxbow Brewing Co. goblet glass

Oxbow Brewing Co. in New Castle, Maine, calls itself an American farmhouse brewery that makes “loud beer from a quite place.” I attended an Oxbow tap takeover at Novare Res Bier Cafe during Portland Beer Week, and I was very impressed with the range and quality of the brews. I had a fantastic IPA with tropical-citrus flavors and Brettanomyces called Funkhaus, and another solid IPA called Freestyle No. 8, both of which were complex and unique. Learn more about Oxbow Brewing Co. on the brewer’s website.

4) Bull Jagger Brewing Co.

Bull Jagger Brewing Co. logo

Bull Jagger is a newcomer to the Portland, Maine beer scene, but it’s quickly making a name for itself with some solid lagers and other noteworthy brews, including a fantastic porter, called Baltic Porter No. 19. I also attended a Bull Jagger tap takeover during Portland Beer Week, and I was very impressed with a tart, strawberry infused limited-release lager called WILD BJ. Visit the brewer’s website for more information.

5) Shipyard Brewing Co.

The Shipyard Brewing Co.

You’ve very likely heard of Portland’s Shipyard Brewing Co., makers of the insanely popular fall seasonal Pumpkinhead ale. (FWIW, I hate pumpkin beers; here’s why.) Shipyard also brews an export lager that’s widely distributed across the United States. I visited Shipyard’s brewery while in Portland, and as a New Englander, I’ve been drinking Shipyard brews for years. My favorite is probably its Monkey Fist IPA. For more on Shipyard Brewing Co., visit the brewer’s website.

(Honorable mentions: Baxter Brewing Co.; D.L Geary Brewing Company; and Rising Tide Brewing Co.)

UBN

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Barfly’s View: Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

Last week I traveled to Portland, Maine, for a few days to celebrate Portland Beer Week. Portland is an amazing New England city by the sea that’s packed with great restaurants, quality breweries and brewpubs, and top-notch beer bars. I hit up nearly a dozen different bars in Portland, but one in particular really stood out: Novare Res Bier Café.

Novare Res is a dark, semi-subterranean beer bar with brick columns and other brick accents, and Belgian-themed decorations throughout, which make for a very cool, laid-back atmosphere. The beer list is amazing; Novare Res has 25 rotating drafts, two hand-pumped casks and more than 500 bottles—I drank some very hard-to-find Cantillon Lambics, Vigneronne and Saint Lamvinus. And Novare Res spotlighted a number of Maine brewers I’d never heard of, as part of Portland Beer Week. (Shout out to Oxbow Brewing Co. and Bull Jagger Brewing Co., two awesome Maine breweries that put on noteworthy events at Novare Res last week.)

Novare Res Bier Café in Portland, Maine

The bar serves a number of meat-and-cheese hors d’oeuvres, and a few small meals, but it’s the beer not the food that makes Novare Res shine. The bartenders are also very knowledgeable and friendly. In fact, one particularly-cool bartender noticed that I was drinking sour beers and went out of his way to let me know that a nearby Japanese noodle bar had one of my favorite gueuzes, Tilquin, on draft. (If you read this, thanks man, the gueuze—and gyoza—at Pai Men Miyake was awesome.)

Boston is home to some world-class beer bars that I frequent. I travel fairly often, and I make it a point to visit all the best beer bars wherever I roam—hence, my collection of Barfly’s Views. In other words, I know my beer bars. But I was blown away by Novare Res Bier Café. Novare Res is not only the best beer bar I found in Portland, it’s one of the best beer bars I’ve ever been to. If you find yourself in Portland, Maine, you need to get your ass over to Novare Res.

UBN

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