The Great Lost Bear

Not Rated.
The Great Lost BearThe Great Lost Bear
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

153 Ratings
Ratings: 153
Reviews: 104
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: n/a
Taps: 69
Bottles: --
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

540 Forest Ave
Portland, Maine, 04101-1507
United States
phone: (207) 772-0300

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @greatlostbear

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 153 | Reviews: 104 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of gameface23
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Just returned from Great Lost Bear with a few friends. The atmosphere was more restaurant than bar. I believe they had 65 beers on tap. I ordered a Delirium Tremens and a Allagash Victor Ale. Both beers were served in a tulip glass. The Victor Ale was served a little too cold. Both beers were a reasonable $6 per glass. The food list was expansive to an overwhelming extent, filled with standard pub food. I ordered macaroni and cheese and a side of fries. The food was good, not great. I would definitely go back, but there are much better places out there.

Photo of Pamola
4.45/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

After I visit RSVP while in Portland, I ALWAYS head right down Forest Ave and grab a stool at the bar of the Great Lost Bear. There's a reason this place is legendary.

They mostly carry Maine micros, then national micros, and it would seem that they have made it a point to have 6 or so belgian beers on tap at any given time nowadays. In addition to the belgian draft tower, they also have a dedicated tower of 6 taps for Allagash.

To give an idea, last time I was there I had Witkap Pater Dubbel, Kapittel Abt, Deux Brasseurs, and cask-pulled Allagash Black. They also had St. Bernardus Abt 12 and Delerium Noel on tap, but I had had those before (and had to drive home). Usually there's a few amazing brews sitting in casks, from Sheepscot to Grittys to Allagash. I usually get a flight of belgian samples, at $2 each. Samples of normal micros are $1 each, so feel free to try 20 of the 80 or so beers they have on tap.

The food is NOT normal pub food. It's weel beyond that. The soups are hearty and usually made with something on tap, the wings are the best in portland, the burgers are varied, inspired, and delicious. They have an extensive vegetarian menu as well.

Photo of cleeze
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Oh how I miss living by the Bear. I recently stopped by last weekend when I was in town and was quite please to see not much has changed. The atmosphere is off the hook. Walls covered in everything beer, all kinds of vintage stuff too which i really dig. Their quality and selection is what makes the Bear my favorite spot in Portland. Only if they had live music! Their always changing their 50 something taps, and do all kinds of cool promo nights every week. Tues I believe is 2$ beer night, Thurs they pick a brewery and all their beers are on special for like 3$ and they give away all kinds of promo.

Food is typical bar fool. Still the only place i've found delirium tremens on tap around.

Photo of Jayli
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This place is awesome! Cool digs, very comfortable, great atmosphere, excellent service, amazing beer selection, REALLY good food - everything. I tried a few beers here, but the best by far was the availability of Boothbay's Cadillac Mountain Stout. Seriously, the beer selection here is amazing. They have over 60 beers on tap, and then there is their bottled selection - which is how I got the Cadillac Mountain Stout. This is one of my favorite beers that you simply can't anywhere! The food was downright amazing! For an appetizer, we had the terriyaki grilled mushrooms - can I just say, I could make a meal out of this altogether! Since I didn't, I had their Pesto Burger. A little too much pesto, but after scrapping some off - it was perfect.
Next time I am in Portland - this is where I am going!

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Stopped at this place with my wife when we were in Portland over Memorial Day. Place was fairly empty, so we took a seat at the bar and ordered away. The bar itself is pretty nice, and the webcam is fairly cool, but overall the place isn't much to look at. Sort of like a rundown fern bar with a lot of beer paraphenalia on the walls. The bar area seems to be all about beer, but the rest of the place seemed more like a tired restaurant. The bartender was prompt and relatively friendly for taciturn Maine, but he didn't talk much except when asked direct questions about the beer which he seemed to know pretty well. Some of the servers seemed less informed- and less pleasant. As far as selection goes, this place suffers from the opposite problem of Novare Res. Instead of having too little local stuff, they perhaps have too much, or perhaps its just TOO local. No offense, but many of the Maine breweries put out a lot of products that all sort of taste like each other. I would have liked to have seen more regional brews from around New England. There were a handful of Belgians as well, but nothing all that exciting. That being said, I did enjoy trying some local brews, but even though I was driving and limiting my consumption, nothing was really left to try that I really cared about for a second trip here, so we skipped that. One huge prop which increases their score is that they had three casks on when I was there. I applaud any establishment able to do that an keep them fresh, and from what I tasted they were. Everything was impeccable as far as quality goes. I didn't taste any food, so no comment about that. I commend the willingness to serve local breweries, but I think a regional focus would preserve much of that and increase quality. I'm glad I checked it out, and it does sort of serve as the Ying to Novare Res's Yang, but it is a good deal more inconvenient to get to if you are staying in the Old Port. Worth a stop.

Photo of chuckd123
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Visited the Bear on a trip to Portland last weekend. First impression is of total visual overload. The walls are loaded with all things beer, and then some. Selection was very good, not sure how many taps they had, but many solid choices. Atmosphere was not to my liking, the walls and every surface were extremely busy - but selection made up for it. Tried Allagash's Hugh Malone Belgian IPA and was impressed. Bartender was busy but knew her beers. They do 5oz samples of any tap beer for $1, which is great if you are curious but don't want to end up with a pint of something you don't like. Food was fine, no complaints but typical bar food. If in Portland, I'd visit Novare Res before the Bear.

Photo of Hokies
3.68/5  rDev -13.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

On my past trip to Portland I decided to visit this place after reading about it here and talking to the locals. At first glance it seems the place seems lighter than what people have said and the bar had a nice atmosphere and a knowledgeable bartender. I was impressed with the array of local craft beer selection. We had samplers of their Hefe selection, Belgian selection and IPA selection and had a tough time deciding which was the best between the Belgian and IPA selection. I wish they had other craft beers from VT and New Hampshire. The food selection was actually pretty good as was the quality. I would probably go back if I am in the Portland area again.

Photo of evanackerman
3.55/5  rDev -16.3%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3

I heard so many accolades about this place that I had to give it a try while I was in Portland. At first look I couldn't beleive this place had gotten so many rave reviews, it is dark and plain looking, but after a look at the beer and food selection, I changed my mind. good beer service and the food was nothing spectacular but perfectly fine for a bar. I ordered a Cod sandwich which I had no complaints about, and my wife's pesto chicken sandwich was pretty good too. the menu is actually pretty sizeable. Definitely a fun place, worth going back next time i'm in Portland.

Update: after another visit I have to take the food score down a notch, worst nacho's I've ever had at a restaurant. Beer still delicious though, definitely the best selection in the vicinity.

Photo of mltobin
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Stopped here for lunch while heading further north into Maine/

It was a tad difficult to find for someone who was coming from "away", but after driving underneath 295, we eventually came across the Great Lost Bear. From the outside, it looks shady, kind of like a low scale strip club (for real).

The quality was good overall, with the beers presented in proper glassware.

The service was the best feature with a knowledgeable and friendly waitress, thanks!!!

The selection was good, especially good if you want to see what the brewers of Maine have to offer.

Food is good, not amazing, but hey its a bar, so im happy.

Photo of CHADMC3
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

This place was a sleeper. I read so many great things about it, but when I walked in, was a bit taken back. It took me a beer to warm up to the dark atmosphere, but between the courteous staff and the friendly bar patrons, it became a favorite.

They recently added a series of belgian taps to accompany all of the excellent local beers. I had the chance to sample multiple selections and enjoy all the collectible (and humorous) items around the bar.

In typical tourist fashion, we were sure to wave to our bar going friends back home via the webcam.

We only sampled some appetizers, which were decent. If enjoying an entire meal of food, I may be inclined to try somewhere else with so many good restaurants in the area.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Finally visited this staple of Maine beer places.

Place is initially creepy, very dark lighting makes it hard to make things out at first, but once seated, it's a joy to look at all the cool signs they have.

Our waitress was very fast and the food delivered even faster. My girlfriend and I both got cheesesteaks (with a weird kind of cheese sauce, I miss the whiz). When all was said and done, we were in and out in about 40 minutes, certainly one of the fastest restaurant stays I've had, but not in a way that they rushed to get us out.

The tap list is one of the more impressive one's I've seen in Maine. Majority of the selection are from Maine, but also have many others from throughout the country. When I visited, they also had 3 cask selections.

Photo of NJpadreFan
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The Great Lost Bear- Portland

Drove over here on a Fri. afternoon. Mostly empty. Long restaurant with a billion tables. Sat in the farthest room were its a bit cold. The menu is huge and they have so much to choose the tap list is extensive including beers like; Smutty Nose, Flying Dog, Rogue, Long Trail, Shepscot, to name a few.
Had the Grizzly Bearito and the wife had chicken. Food was good, the waiter was quick, friendly and helpful. I had the Boothbay Bitter on cask. Definitely a good restaurant to eat and drink. If you're in Portland you must go here.

Photo of n0rmann
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Loved this place. Located in downtown Portland, the bar area has a nice, homey feel, and the dining area is large enough that you don't feel cramped.

The beer selection puts an emphasis on Maine beers. You gotta respect a bar that recognizes and supports the local brewers.

Also like the fact they had at least three cask condition ales available.

The prices are definitely reasonable, and the food was better than average.

The service was also wonderful. I had asked a waitress for directions to our next stop and she verbally gave them to us. Then, about 10 minutes later, she came back with a hand drawn map, in detail, to where we were going.

I'll definitely be stopping in again the next time I'm in Portland.

Photo of Hautacam
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Good looking dark pub with tons of stuff on the walls....currency , signs, photos...brew stuff.
We sat out side on their patio.
With 50 plus beers on tap , it was tough to choose...I think they were all American micros... lots of maine beer and New England...maybe a Paulaner in there too.
I chose the Stone Coast IPA on cask...excellent...there were 4 casks ! My girlfriend had a Circus Boy draft.
I just needed a burger and it was done just as I asked. My girlfriend got a Blueberry Ginger cold soup with garlic , cilantro....chili ?....anyway she really liked it.
Our waitress was great and the food came unbelievably fast.
Good experience , we will go back again when in the area.

Photo of NEhophead
3.55/5  rDev -16.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Stopped in for lunch on our way through Portland on 07.27.07. The restaurant is seperated into many rooms as you walk in through the main entrance. Decor is of old beer memorabilia and antlers. The beer menu boasts approximately 50 taps with three casks; of mostly Maine crafts along with a large selection of other New England offerings including: Allagash, Sebago, Gritty's, Geary's, Shipyard, Bar Harbor, Sheepscot, Smuttynose, etc. Other national crafts included: DFH, Rogue, etc. Despite a reasonable selection, the best offering by far was Smutty's Big A IPA (which is a tasty brew, but far from being a "star" in a bar loaded with the amount of taps that the Bear has). Service was slow at best, and the waitress was forgetful with the beer orders. Food was what you expect for lunch at a pub, but nothing spectacular. A good place to stop in while you're in Maine, especially to sample some Maine crafts that you could not otherwise get out of the state, but not a destination in and of itself.

Photo of awall422
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Stopped in with my wife and a friend on our way home from Kennebec County. Lucked out on a saturday night in that a local clam festival had drawn the crowds away.

my buddy had a 60 minute, I went with a big A. Both tasted fresh and great. Nice selection of Maine beers, have to respect trying to support the local breweries as much as possible.

Food was terrific, one of the best cheese steaks I've ever had. My buddy Sean had a Buffalo sandwich and my wife had a grilled cheese that had crab salad in the middle. They were both really happy. Nice eclectic selection to choose from, too.

Photo of mcarroll10177
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Stopped in after a Portland Sea Dogs game. The GLB is a very nice place to have regional beers and some really good food.

A- nice laid back place with the bar a resturant seperated by a glass wall. It also has a patio in the back for outdoor refreshment.

Q- The beers served were all quality and the regional selection was top notch. I enjoyed a magic hat and a wonderful dry stout.

Ser- This could have been a bit better. The GLB was not crowded at the time we were there and our server got the order a bit wrong. But she quickly recified the situation which was greatly appreciated. The fact that she was adorable did not hurt either.

Sel- Good but not quite as good as I expected reading other reviews. That being said they did have a ton of local beers, but they did not have anything crazy. Perhaps the Moan and Dove has ruined me for life.

F- excellent. The super nachos were fantasic and so large we could not finsh them. The burger I had was top notch and the fries with the GLB homemade cheese sause was so so good.

V- for what we got the food was not expensive at all. The bast part was after five beers were served in 23 oz glasses for the same price as the 12oz around 3.50. That is value

I wanted to get a Tee shirt and they did not have my size, but all in all a very good place. I will go again when in Portland.

Photo of klee44
3.59/5  rDev -15.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4.5

Visited for a beer or two on a Friday night. Crowded and very warm to the point of sweating. We had a space outside of the bar and were surprised when twice, we were offered seats at the bar by a couple who knew we came in ahead of them and then from a couple who were leaving. Nice people in Maine, can't see that happening in most places in CT. If only the staff, or one in particular, were as nice.

We sat at the bar and were overlooked a couple of times, not offered a menu, and then when glasses were empty, the bartender asked only one of us what we wanted. When she came back 5 minutes later and poured the beer and placed it in front of us she looked past us. Maybe it was the crowd, maybe it was just a bad night but it was a crappy experience.

That said, the beer selection was fantastic and inspiring. I had no idea there was that much home grown beer in the state when I realized that almost all of the beers on tap, probably 30-40, came from Maine! I had the Grand Cru and the Black Bear Porter, my gf stood by her favorite, 60 Minute. I wish the state of CT could boast that many home growns all served in the same place.

I can only dream of Hooker, Cambridge, and Willie Brew on tap in the same bar!

Photo of MTNboy
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

I really liked this place. It had a real crazy laid back atmosphere the worst thing was there was not a whole lot of room for the crowd that was in there. The beer menu is one of the best I had ever seen offering a wide variety of beers especially New England beers. I was trying to hit up as many breweries on my vacation as possible. This joint gave me a chance to try some microbrews that I did not have time to visit their locations. The service was alright. Our waitress was not very friendly but that might just be due to how busy they were. I found this place by accident but I was glad that I did. I had heard good things about this bar and it met my expectations.

Photo of Grundle20
4.63/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

GLB, as it's come to be known in my family, is far more than a damn good place to grab a beer to me. It's a place I used to beg my dad to take me to as a child so I could eat their "Super Nachos" which at the time was a molten heap of meat, cheese, and nachos comparable to the size of my head. I still get them every time I stop in.

It was only recently that I got to go back and fully enjoy all of it's beers and given the high number of bars and restaurants in the area the GLB still dominates all of them. It has an overwhelming selection of good american beer and decent pricing on everything. The food is pretty much standard pub food but its done so well and it's given witty little names that bring your mind back to the late 60s early 70s like Chevy Chase's Love Me Tenders which beats out "chicken fingers" in my opinion.

GLB exudes a presence of local importance and tradition. It's been a staple in my family since I can remember and the same is true with nearly every Mainer in the area. If you're looking for a really unique and telling place to grab a meal or a beer in Portland then I can't help but say you'd be a fool to pass on the opportunity to stop in.

Bottom Line:
Decent food and decent beer for decent people, the very lifeblood of Maine.

Photo of simmons
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

We came here after drinking at Gritty Mcduffs and was surprised to see all the taps and the enormous selection that they had there. After drinking tons of Maine beers (beers with ringwood yeast) i was SOOO happy to see some hoppy beers i was familiar with such as Dogfish Head and Harpoon. There also was a great selection of Maine beers that I have never seen before and specialty local beers as well. The food was ok, I just bought something small for a respectable price. The one thing that I noticed was while talking to the bar tender and telling him that My friends and I were from out of state they gave us samples of whatever we asked for without cost. This place is just great!!! number 1 place to go in Maine Id say.

Photo of lordofthewiens
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A great place to visit. Clean, a little dark. Several separate areas, so noise does not appear to be a problem. The obligatory summer outdoor seating. Huge beer list (over 50 beers on tap). The list changes frequently; when we went there it was almost entirely Maine microbrews, which was fine with me. There is good turnover, so go another time and you'll find other New England beers. Service was good, never had to ask for another beer. Menu is huge, mostly pub food, mostly under $10. There are some dinners, as well as a few vegetarian selections. I left feeling like I had eaten well, and certainly had some excellent beers. Try it.

Photo of nase
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3

Pre-gamed here before last night's doubleheader. Went in with high expectations which were nearly met. I thought my food was fine though a little pricy. My burger was $10. My friends specifically requested their burgers medium rare and they came back well done. Not sure whose fault that was but the service was definitely good. One said he wouldn't care to go back anyway.

I also went with the five beer sampler where I'm fairly new to Maine micro scene where I'm only 21 and was glad I did. I tried a couple cask beers but don't think I will do that again until fall/winter hits. What the Bear has on tap changes a lot: took off a few porters/stouts and added some summer drinks recently. The site hadn't updated that as of this review.

No complaints from me though. I'd definitely go back.

Oh, and for what it's worth, Hadlock Field (home to the Portland Sea Dogs) has 8-10 regional micros on tap including a few from Casco Bay Brewing. The stand is currently located on the right side past the concessions area as you enter the park. Couldn't tell you prices as I just peeked around the corner but my friend paid $4 for a (12 oz.?) Bud Light draft.

Photo of maccroz
4.83/5  rDev +13.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

What can you say about the Great Lost Bear that isn't wonderful? From the cool Greatful Dead bear bumper stickers "Support your right to arm bears", to the 50+ beers on tap, to those french fries that are to die for - this place rocks.

Only a miserable, cold, dreary environment like Portland, ME could create such a warm hospitable environment. It's by far my favorite place to grab a beer anywhere in the world. I recommend trying the 5 beer sampler as you'll most certainly want to try everything. Great Lost Bear does a good job of picking out the best beers out of the hundreds of micro brews in the New England area.

Photo of dougnboston
4.58/5  rDev +8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I had their Wings with a Greek Salad. Both very fresh. The Salad was big and with wing platter was piled high!

Beers. I had Geary's Winter, Gearys Anniversary (cask) and a wonderful Sheepscot Boothbay Bitter (cask). All fresh, clean and very tasty.

The bar is easy to find. Lots of parking on street or in their parking lot. Big bar with very good service. The selection is large. Look for their specials, they are priced to move. This week was a Long Trail Hibernator for $2.50 a pint.

Their mix of taps change weekly. Most are Maine brewers and several other New England brewers are mixed in along with a scattered few from the rest of the US or world. They have a nice sampler tray of glasses.

I'll be back. This is a very, very good beer bar with a menu of fresh good food.

The Great Lost Bear in Portland, ME
94 out of 100 based on 153 ratings.