The Great Lost Bear


105 Reviews
Place Score:
The Great Lost BearThe Great Lost Bear

Type: Bar, Eatery

540 Forest Ave
Portland, Maine, 04101-1507
United States

(207) 772-0300 | map

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Reviews: 105 | Ratings: 172
Photo of Sudcutter
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Great restaurant with a great beer selection that is frequently updated. The atmosphere at the bar is always fun and boisterous, but not over-the-top loud and not rowdy. I am a huge fan of their mac n' cheese. Also, the sampler option is a great value for trying up to five beers. I highly recommend this place as the second best beer-drinking option in Portland (second only to Novare Res).

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

My second trip to the Bear on a business trip for work by myself. Roadhouse/chain restaurant feel to the inside of building with a nice deck off to to the back left. The menu is mostly pub grub, but does have some choices that are veggy and/or healthy. I had a hanger steak that was really well done! The huge, Maine focused tap list holds many choices for the casual beer drinker, but I did manage to find a beer or two that excited my inner geek. Service was attentive and my meal was moderately priced for the area. Great place for some beer and food, I wouldn't hesitate to return unless I was sampling some of the geekier beer destinations in Portland.

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Photo of shueyy
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I was recommended this place my a fellow BA member and was glad I took his advise thanks mathematizer. The brick building is a little out of "downtown" Portland but not to bad. I was able to find off street parking which was a plus in their parking lot.
Once you walk in staring in front of you is the bar with dinner tables etc. off to the left as well as and outside patio. The bar is separated from the dining room by a glass wall which is nice the decor is dark wood with a local vibe with lots of yearbook looking pictures.
I was with a group that wanted to sit at table instead of the bar. The service was good maybe a little slow but I wasn't in a rush so it didn't bother me. I order a 5 oz. sample of all the Allagash beers which was great I believe they had 7 on tap.Once I was done with that I order another sampler round of Maine beers which I hadn't had before. With close to 70 taps you can bet there's probably something you haven't had before.
The food was good with plenty left over there was something for everybody. You willn't go hungry or thirsty here.
Overall I thought the place was a great value for the price with a very good tap list. Not being fom Maine I enjoyed all the great beers brewed in Maine that they had on tap. I would recommend this bar/restaurant if you looking for good local beer and decent food.

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Photo of Sammy
3.64/5  rDev -13.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

A big old style bar and restaurant not far from downtown Portland. Many taps, lots of selection of what comes through, not all of it great, but some of it not bad. Environment not bad to have a beer by day, but there were nicer in terms of more modern or snazzy places to have beer by night. Service was fine, though understaffed.Prices were fair so that one can have their fill of beer a fraction of the big cities. A go to place for bar food but lots of beer. Cask occasionally on.Worth a stop if in area seeing the brewers.

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Photo of andylipp
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Stopped for some lunch and beers with the wife last weekend and enjoyed it very much. Lots of taps, with the selection highlighting many interesting Maine brews-all in proper glassware. The bartender was gregarious and offered up several excellent beer suggestions, and didn’t even grumble when I asked for a flight to facilitate trying several. Extra points for the good attitude.
My wife ate lunch, a concoction called Buffalo Mac and Cheese which was very tasty and equally bad for you and your new year’s diet.
The place felt quite comfortable, and they were quite hospitable to us, even though we were only Masshole tourists. Nice folks, great beer and good food. I’m a fan and I’ll certainly be back.

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Photo of far333
3.94/5  rDev -6.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Finally made it to this northern New England craft beer destination and was not disappointed. Great selection of beers, many Maine beers and many New England beers, great to see a place that focuses strongly on local and regional selections. Dark interior, a little gritty, slightly edgy, interesting breweriana and eclectic photos, plaques, banners, etc. on the walls.

Great job of having updated tap lists printed and easily available throughout the restaurant and at the bar, and good categorizations of origins and styles. Nice touch, sorely missing at so many places.

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Photo of SevaTse
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

This is another must-visit gem for those in Portland, Maine!
The interior is somewhat dim-lit, with stuff like old yearbook class photos from area high schools, along with breweriana on the walls. The selection is pretty huge- lots of locals and quality imports, and themed sampler flights are offered. You can also design your own flight to try several things you haven't had before.
For food they have pretty solid comfort fried foods, with lots of unique(for this area) items.
They have a lot of promos and theme nights.
On a recent visit, they had 5 good to awesome offerings from Allagash(and since they occupied their own draft system, it looked liked a dedicated set of taps), as well as Ommegang Aphrodite and some good stuff on cask!
It's also next door to a homebrew store, so I see no excuse not to hit this place up while getting some supplies.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.4/5  rDev +4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

My first stop in Portland, and what a way to start!

Family restaurant it seems to me (is it next to a brewing store??) with several rooms and a bar. Older looking place--confirmed by my friend who had come here when she was child (like 30 years ago or so). Wood dominates, a bit dark. We got a table in the corner to catch up and chat....and for me to drink.

Yes, the beer selection is the best in the area--for local offerings. Not a huge Belgian, or strong ale, or whatever specialty. It has beer, and plenty of it. I went with a flight of custom selections: all locals!

I got a tuna melt and shared some nachos. Food will fill you up, for sure. Watch it, cuz you'll have to drink more and you better have room. Perhaps my favorite place in Portland. While not the best "beer bar", it's easy to find, easy to get comfy and a good place to chill out

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Photo of dugmar
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Okay, the best thing about the GLB is the beer selection of course. Huge selection of Maine brews and others from around the world make this place a must stop. Not on the waterfront but still in Portland, one of the best cities in New England.

The second best thing about this place is the bar itself. This place is like a museum inside. You can easily spend hours looking at the walls. GLB has a true pub look and feel inside, with millions of things (stickers from around the world, old beer ads, porcelain advertisement signs, vintage posters & photographs, police badges, foreign currency, neon, vintage beer cans, etc., etc., etc...) on the walls and behind the bar to look at. It really sets the right vibe. Well done. If you have ever been to the Dark Horse in Boulder, CO, this has a similar feel. A knick-knack lover's dream bar. Check it out.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Was planning to spend the day in Portland drinking in several places, but due to unforeseen circumstances (fog in Bar Harbor postponing our tour boat a day), we didn't get to Portland until 9 pm instead of noon. Oops. With enough energy for one place, we took a cab to The Great Lost Bear. Hard to compare without hitting other places, but we were very happy with the Bear as our only stop in Portland (and Becky's Diner for breakfast on the way out of town).

Well served and in the proper glasses, our waiter brought us each of the Allagash beers on the extensive draft menu. Ended the night with Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet, which was a great Black IPA. For food, the waiter steered us toward a house made veggie dinner, the Fresh Grizzly Burritto with rice, beans, cheese and veggie chili. We had started with cup of veggie chili (something we found in several NE bars, which I would love to see in the midwest more). Both were really great and topped off the night after a long day being tourists and not having really stopped to eat.

GLB clearly lives up to their reputation as a great beer bar. Our waiter was knowledgeable and helpful choosing the beers, and also got us to meal we enjoyed. After a week of travelling and eating out, we really appreciated a very honest, straight forward waiter who gave us a clear, informed opinion of beer and food when ask. Not shying away from making a statement instead of being a cheerleader for whatever a patron picks is a really great quality that is appreciated.

We liked Portland and plan to return to it and The Great Lost Bear.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

We almost drove right by this location, but once it was spotted we knew we had to stop by for a pint.

This place reminds me of a well diversified beer garden fused with a college town diner. It was approximately 2pm on a Saturday, but the place was fairly packed, especially the bar. However, we still grabbed two bar seats with ease.

Looking around I wondered where they managed to squeeze in 69 taps. However, browsing through the available draughts I realized they provided an incredibly comprehensive selection with both local and classic beer choices. It was no longer my concern where they were hiding all of these taps, more pressing issues concerning my tap and food selection we at hand.
My favorite part about their tap listing was the option for sampling; you could sample one 5oz sample or as many as five 5oz samples on a panel. Because we were literally just coming from the Allagash tasting and tour, I opted to share three 5oz samples instead of completing an entire panel. During the Allagash tour I wanted to try the Grand cru, Black, and confluence and now I would finally get the chance.

The food selection was well priced and included traditional pub fare. I went for the buffalo chicken mac and cheese, while my pub-crawling partner ordered their "famous chili." It was a rainy day, so comfort food was deemed appropriate. My mac and cheese was decent and the chili was delicious.

We spent about one hour at the great lost bear and thoroughly enjoyed our time. I would have liked to check out their night life, but time would not permit. I shall venture back next time I'm in Portland.

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Photo of Billolick
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

First stop in Portland, after a too long drive from the home base. Multiple rooms, ample room at the u shaped bar to belly up and scan the extensive draft menu...plenty of local micros, highlighted by 6 from neighbor Allagash, further focus on Belgians and Belgian style. I tried the Sebago Full Throttle DIPA, mighty fresh and flavorful. We got a table as things began to thin out....service all around was low key and on the mark, food was a bit sloppy, fish was overcooked and marginally flavorful. So to recap, def. go for the major league beer choices, the relaxed and low key athmosphere...maybe consider having dinner somewhere else

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

I finally just made time and headed straight to the Great Lost Bear for a beer. Most of my visits to Portland wind up with a visit to Novare and/or Gritty's. I keep hearing about this joint, but have never made it... Until now.

The atmosphere is great. Very warm, inviting and with the feel of a local joint. A couple guys told me that they still sell about 20-25% of their beer in PBR and other brands like that. The clientele seems to be a very interesting mix of local hearty souls and beer geeks. The walls are covered with beer memorabilia and other items. Even noticed a Reagan Movie poster from way back. Bonus points.

The beer selection certainly focused on Maine beers, but had plenty of Belgium and other American craft choices. Service was VERY friendly and samples flowed very freely.

I didn't try any food, but the food I saw sure looked great.

Novare is still my favorite in town, but I'd much rather head back here vs. Gritty's

I wish I had time to hang out longer and I know I'll be back. This is a must stop when visiting Portland.

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Photo of bishopdc0
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I have had the great opportunity to live within a mile of this place. For those ever considering a visit to Maine this is a must stop. They currently have 69 beers on tap, over half are Maine made, including a great section of Allagash brews. They also brewery showcases, having on tap 4 to 5 beer from a brewery with sometimes the brewer serving them up. Perhaps the best is the opportunity to try cask selections that are only available here, Geary's HSA comes to mind. The staff are always friendly and will help you with your sampler selection or choose from the huge menu, might I suggest the buffalo wings and the chili, don't forget the special board.

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Photo of rsgcwhite
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Fantastic Place!

Went on Friday mid-afternoon on the way from Allagash Brewing Company tour (also highly recommended). The fairly large bar combines a homey dimly lit pub-feel with 69 taps. You have a choice of sitting at the bar, or if feeling more family-oriented, in their restaurant seating.

I Ordered Geary's London Style Porter, Unibroue Noire de Chambly, and a sampling of local brews. Good services, reasonable prices, and excellent food (the buffalo chicken sandwich was glorious). Service was quick and to the point - the only drawback was that they were out of the Rogue JJ Hazelnut Brown; fortunately,, I had 68 other delights to choose from. Menu is well organized by beer style; I would've loved to spend more time here. Actually, I would have loved to live here; I spent most of my time calculating how I could suspend a hammock conveniently above the taps.

Come for the beer, stay for the food, stay longer for more beer. Further note: $1.25/each for 5 ounce samples if you want to make your own flight from the selection.

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Photo of StaveHooks
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

The Great Lost Bear was recommended to me by a bar tender in Boothbay Harbor. It's a great bar/restaurant in Portland Maine. It's on a main street and very easy to find. I cannot say enough about the beer selection. It was stellar. Four beers on cask including Allagash Black, which was very tasty. Plenty of good quality Belgain's, American, and local beers to choose from on tap. It was more of a "quality over quantity" type of selection. The waitress seemed to know information about the beers. I had 3 different styles of beer and all were served in the proper glassware. We ordered the Jalapeno poppers and were pretty good as well. Highly recommended if you're in Portland, ME.

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Photo of adirondack88
4.78/5  rDev +13%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The Great Lost Bear is awesome! This is my home away from home. If you are away from home you can sit in front of the "Bearcam" and it can be a poor man's version of "Skype". The beer selection is great. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. The food is good and they have a huge menu. If I lived in Portland I would have to live in the neighborhood around the corner so this could be my regular watering hole. I am on their e-mail list so they send me the "Bear's Growl" every week which is a hoot. Can you tell I am a big fan of this place? The Great Lost Bear deserves all the praise I am giving it.

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Photo of Kinsman
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Was able to make my first visit to GLB yesterday when Jason and Todd were in town to brew with Allagash. Fellow BA "cjbmcdon" as well as Rob(founder) and Jason (brewmaster) from Allagash were there too.

We were there about mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, so understandably they were not very busy. Right away the bartender gave us all a chance to try Brewers Blackbeard IPA, a Black IPA from the Sierra Nevada Brewers Camp. A great opportunity to try a beer that only a few people will ever get the chance to try. I also gave Peeper Ale from Maine Beer Co. a try and was fairly impressed and look forward to more from them.

The beer selection was pretty solid, with a heavy focus on Maine/ New England Breweries. Jason (from Allagash), pointed out the tap tower that was installed just for Allagash brews, making it possibly the best place in town for Allagash on tap.

Overall, a great experience with a great group of people.

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Photo of gtn80
4/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

I have been going to the GLB for about ten years now, and for better or worse, it doesn't seem to have changed a bit.

In the past few years, the beer list has been modified to include a very solid and much larger Belgian section. The rest of the taps are all craft beers, and the selection is crazy.

"Allagash Row", the section of taps dedicated to Allagash beers, means you can get some Allagash drafts in one place that usually you have to go searching for. For example, we were there Sunday night and they had Allagash Blonde and Fluxus 2010 on tap, two beers I haven't seen in the same place before.

Now the big weakness for me at the GLB is the service. Slow, slow, slow and understaffed. Definitely not Novare Res in terms of knowledge of the staff, I had an argument with a waitress when she brought me Rogue Dead Guy when I ordered Rogue Half-E-Weizen. I don't expect staff to talk about rare lambics with inticate knowledge, but knowing a hefe should be cloudy, come on.

The food is very solid pub food. Nothing amazing, but the prices are really solid. The beer is what shines here.

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Photo of mmonagh1
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Great folks and great beer selection (69 taps), many you don't see anywhere else in Portland. PBR and Narraganset in cans. The Bear is the type of place where you sit at the bar with good friends drinking great beer: Stone, Rogue, Dogfish Head, Victory, Leffe, Monk's, Ommegang, Chimay, Delerium Tremens, St. Bernadus, Hoegaarden, Unibroue, Smuttynose, Harpoon, Long Trail, Magic Hat, Loose Cannon, North Coast, Brooklyn, Southern Tier, Sierra Nevada, Red Hook, Abita, etc. and Maine beers like Allagash, Geary's, Gritty's, Shipyard, Atlantic, Sheepscot, Andrew's, Belfast Bay, Sea Dog, Peak, Marshall Wharf and Run of the Mill.

Food is just alright compared to the beer. Not to sound odd (for a Mainer), but I'd add some cheeses and meats, hummus and smoked salmon plates - like the Ginger Man in NYC or the Flying Saucers.

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Photo of blackie
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

GLB was chosen as a last minute dinner spot due to a relatively high rating and easy drive from the hotel before taxi-ing to other downtown spots

very much unassuming from the outside, the inside of the place is huge with various dining rooms and a bar area separated by glass partitions, dim and heavily musty with lots of kitschy crap hanging about - mostly beer related and lots of old playbills and neons and such, skipped the outside patio due to a passing thunderstorm and took our seats in an abandoned corner inside - the place was very much dead on an early Friday evening, mostly older couples eating, music questionable to tolerable

draft selection was pretty good, mostly Maine and regional locals with a heavy Allagash representation - which was by far the best local on the list as most others were pretty average in the ratings department, small selection of Belgians, my first selection was kicked so I settled with the so-so Marshall Wharf Big Twitch IPA, current taplist available online

service was friendly and quick, but the waiter was unable to offer much helpful advice about the beers offered, perhaps the bar would be a better bet for this

not really impressed with the food, my guacamole burger was fine but uninspired - patty (cooked as ordered), guac not terribly fresh, lots of bun, and the vegetables completely forgotten; the chicken fajita would have hardly been passable at any chain Mexican food joint, okay but shallow in flavor, fries were fine

food was expensive for what was received, $10 and up, while the beer was pretty cheap, $2.99 for the Hooker Lager on special and $4.50 for the Marshall

I'd stop in again for beer, but would eat elsewhere

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.58/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

The Great Lost Bear is an outstanding restaurant and pub. Long bar serving about 50 taps on my visit, with a dual focus on Maine breweries and Belgian beers - Allagash being the middle of that particular Venn diagram. I enjoyed a couple of their offerings on cask, which was a pleasant surprise.

Dimly lit, log-cabin-like feel indoors. Unique enough posters and such on the walls. The bathroom was uniquely filthy, enough to lower my atmosphere score, actually. The quality of the beers on tap is good - I love the local focus, and if I had to pick one country to highlight, Belgium would be it in the brewing scene. Our waiter was very nice and very prompt, but he didn't seem to know a ton about beer.

Of which there was a lot. I was only interested in probably half the menu, but that's normal. The food was outstanding, with many options for vegetarians. We loved the Great Lost Bear and would recommend it to anyone in the greater Portland area.

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Photo of Imstillthegman
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

The last of three stops during my evening in Portland. Could have easily been my first and only. I really dig the "dive" bar feel the place has going for it. The foreign money tacked up above the bar is interesting. Beer signs, stickers, and whatever else they had laying around adorns the walls. The menu looked very tasty...Almighty Cheesus would have been my choice...but we had just ate dinner before coming here. Next time I will eat here, for sure. Big selection of brews available. Lots of locals on tap, which I enjoy seeing when traveling. Some Belgians and Germans, too. Bottle list is a nice mix of locals, micros, and imports. Spring Peeper was my choice and a good one it was. Our bartender was very helpful and friendly. She made us feel like we were regulars. I would highly recommend a visit if you're going to be in the area. Can't wait to get back next year for a longer stay.

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Photo of Fishersold
2.85/5  rDev -32.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2.5

I want to really like this place. I live in Portland and I have tried on a number of occasions to make this place, "my place", but I can't get passed some basics that the GLB lack.

Most importantly is the selection. At a quick glance, this is the best selection in the state and possibly the region with 60 or so regional beers on tap. But I believe the GLB commits the greatest sin of bars with huge tap selections: not keeping fresh beer. I've had the Sebago Frye's Leap IPA hundreds of times, but I had it at the GLB and couldn't drink it. I even asked them to take it back because I figured it must have been the wrong beer, but they brought back the same gross smelling/tasting thing. This wasn't the first time I've received a beer that seemed "off". Now I'm too scared to try a beer I haven't had before because of the fear of hating a beer I possibly could love.

The atmosphere is kind of cool. It has the real deal version of what places like TGI Fridays go for with the "put any piece of junk up on the wall for decoration" thing. It's part charming, part dirty, which is ok. The food is fine, very fried, very cheesy.

Again, my main concern is the beer freshness. I take great pride in my state's brewing, and would hate for anyone to get the wrong impression by having one of those beers here. If you want to really taste a local brew, go to their own beer bar (Sebago Brewing Co, Gritty McDuff's, etc). Most have them, or try Novare Res.

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Photo of CapnStuBing
4.83/5  rDev +14.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I was highly impressed with the Great Lost Bear. I headed up there from Salem, MA for the Dogfish Head Life & Limb party. Was a bit disappointed in that they'd run out of that and Limb & Life by the time the party was supposed to begin. That's where my disappointment ended though! I'd gotten very excited upon reading reviews by other BA members and this place lived up to my expectations. The beer selection was incredible and I was very happy to have the chance to try some brews that I'd not had before, especially on tap. The beer prices were very reasonable, especially compared to what's charged in the greater Boston area.

I was equally impressed with the food. There was a great selection to choose from. I went with the Almighty Cheesus (especially after reading what others had to say about it). That as well lived up to, if not exceeding my expectations! I certainly couldn't eat them too frequently, but the usage of grilled cheese sandwiches in place of a bun is genius! I wasn't disappointed by the service that some others seemed to be. There were a few times where we waited a bit for Shane to return, but given the crowd there, it wasn't unreasonable.

I wholeheartedly recommend you visit The Great Lost Bear. I certainly will be making return trips up there.

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The Great Lost Bear in Portland, ME
94 out of 100 based on 105 ratings.