The Great Lost Bear

The Great Lost BearThe Great Lost Bear
188 Ratings
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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Ratings: 188 |  Reviews: 110
Photo of Fishersold
2.85/5  rDev -32.9%
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 FoolCircle
3.35/5  rDev -21.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

This place is cool. You walk in and everything is about beer, food & music. This was my first time here to Great Lost Bear and I already felt like I fit in. If I lived in the Portland area, this would be "my bar".

They had a really funny wide selection of food on the menu that happily catered to alternative diets - low-carb, veggie (hippie) - and had a great variety to choose from. Also, and I suppose more importantly, was the beer selection - about 50 taps (I didn't count) plus bottles. Two points though, the selection is VERY Maine heavy, followed through with a New England flair, and all is not as "fresh" as they want you to believe.

I tried a "sampler" which is a very cool idea for a non-brewpub to do. This way I was able to try five 4oz. samples of beer for five dollars. I asked the sever several questions about the beer, but she seemed honestly clueless - a cross between flakey and burnt-out. I tried 5 IPA's from the area, they ranged from pretty-good to almost undrinkable. My guess is that said undrinkable IPA wasn't sour when it left the brewery, thanks GLB.
After the sampler I tried a cask-conditioned beer. According to there beer menu such beers (3 on the menu that night) were naturally carbonated, unfiltered, and served at apporximatly 50-55 degrees. Lets just say what I got was force carbonated, well-filtered, cold and again, sour - plus the pint glass had a crack in it taboot.

Anyway - even with the not 100% beer night at the GLB I would more than happily go back to the place - honestly I loved it, well, except for the repeatedly sour beer.

Try the chili, it's great!

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Photo of mtbbaboon
3.48/5  rDev -18.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 4

My wife and I stopped in here while on a weekend trip to Maine. Not the best parking in the world, but fortunately we stopped in on a Monday afternoon and found a spot. Really cool atmosphere inside. Lots of beer decor all over the place. I had fun just looking around at everything. Good beer selection, too. Maybe a dozen Belgian beers on tap to go along with 50 or so micros. Five Allagashes on tap too. Five 5oz Belgian samples for $10 is a pretty good deal if you ask me. The service....*sigh*. We sat at the bar and made the mistake of asking for a minute to decide what to order. It took 10 minutes for the bartender to get back to us, and there were (and I counted) seven people at the bar. Not exactly friendly service when he got to us, too. Maybe we looked too touristy with our Portland maps and shit. Also, I ordered an Allagash Fluxus CASK, and I got a regular tap pour. I wasn't about to complain and wait 10 more minutes. It was still a damn tasty beer and I wouldn't find that on tap 'round my parts. Overall, it's a cool bar with a good tap selection, but the service we experienced could have been better. It wouldn't take much.

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Photo of Sinnian
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3

First bar/restaurant I ever drank in, and the place I met my wife ~ enough said!

However there beer selection for Maine/New England ~ and abroad is quite extensive. Menu has something for EVERYONE ~ whether it be for carnivores, vegetarians, or gluten free!

Might I suggest the Super Nachos with a Funky Bow So Folkn' Hoppy IPA!

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Photo of BeerThursdays
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Photo of markipa1
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Only had a few 5oz samples of beer here while bar hopping, but did not feel like this was a home for true beer afficionadoes. Though they had a very large number of beers on tap (65), what they had on tap was not exactly the best beers of each style. I love that you can order 5oz tasters- $1 each for american, $2 each for belgian, though. If I had ordered a pint of some of the very dissappointing beers I had, I would have been pissed. This place appeals to more than just the the beer nut crowd, especially considering they have Schlitz on tap for $1.99. A very big selection, but did not have the feel of a bar that is dedicated to the best in beer.

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Photo of evanackerman
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of klee44
3.59/5  rDev -15.5%
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!

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Photo of snowranger05
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Just stopped for a couple pints while in town today. Thought I might get lunch, too, but when I saw the prices I thought better of it (e.g. an order of chicken wings is over $10).

I showed up just after opening and had to wait at the bar almost 10 minutes before even seeing the bartender. After that the service was better. The beer list offers something for everyone. I had the "$2.95 pint special" which was Geary's Summer followed up with a North Coast Scrimshaw, which I had just seen at the local beer store, but had never had. From the store I remember it being a pale ale, but they had it listed under the lager category. I figured I'd try it out to see what it really was. Tasted like a pale ale to me. I ordered a side of fries, which came out remarkably quick, but unfortunately lukewarm and slightly soggy, like they were the last bits from the last batch fried up.

Just a quick visit. I'll go back, for sure. Until then I'll be saving my nickels and dimes to help cover the cost of a meal here.

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Photo of Sammy
3.64/5  rDev -14.4%
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 gameface23
3.68/5  rDev -13.4%
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.

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Photo of Hokies
3.68/5  rDev -13.4%
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.

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Photo of twelvsies
3.7/5  rDev -12.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Checked this place out on a recent trip up to Portland, ME for the release of the new Allagash beer, Gargamel. After the brewery tour we needed some lunch and tasty libations so off to the Bear it was. Nice vibe with lots of beeraphenalia and a dark gloomy light. Homey small town restaurant type seating off to the side separated from the bar by a wall with windows. The selection appears to lack any bottles, which is a big of a consolation but there are plenty (60) draught choices to choose from. Decent selection, and points of having lots of variety in local flavors like Geary's, Allagash, Sheepscot, Shipyard, etc... Some Allagash I haven't seen anywhere else too. An ok selection of Belgians but most seem to be the brands you see everywhere (i.e. Delirium Tremens). What I thought was lacking was some better beers from around the country, particularly the west coast. They do have several casks always pumping though, which is awesome. Lots of food options, pretty decent sandwiches. It seems like this is a great place that supports the local beer scene which I always like to see. Would definitely go back happily every time I'm in Portland, I just wouldn't have high expectations of finding anything rare or too exciting beyond Allagash one-offs and the like. A solid, feel-good bar.

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Photo of chuckd123
3.7/5  rDev -12.9%
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.

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Photo of asherchase
3.72/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of coombski
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of mecmd
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of John_M
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Had not been to this place in several years, and have to confess I was quite looking forward to my return visit. Maybe it's me that has changed somewhat since then, but for some reason I was just a bit disappointed in the GLB after my last visit for lunch.

The GLB is a good size beer bar/restaurant, that for all the world reminds me of a TGIF. There are quite a lot of bear related decorations on the wall, as well as some interesting pictures, newspaper articles, etc. It's good enough for what it is I suppose, but there was nothing particularly warm or interesting about the surroundings here.

As before, the beer selection is the real draw here. GLB has roughly 70 beers on tap, although that also includes things like Stella, Newcastle brown ale, Guinness, etc. They also have some interesting Belgian beers on tap, as well as a nice selection of beers from Allagash, but otherwise I wasn't overwhelmed by the quality of the beers I saw on the beer list.

As mentioned above, we were here for lunch, and we got an order of nachos. While there was nothing wrong with them, they were hardly anything to write home about either. The salsa, for instance, was pretty clearly pace mild, and the rest of our food order was about as interesting. In fact the menu is pretty much made up of your typical pub grub, which here consists of various types of wings, nachos, burgers, wraps and sandwiches. Nothing wrong with that, but it's something I would keep in mind if planning to stop here for food.

As for service, it was fine. We were served by a very young lady, who I felt went a bit overboard in trying to be friendly and accommodating. I was literally starting to get a "fingernails on chalkboard" feeling by the time we left, as her excessively caring presentation started to wear a bit thin. She seemed to know very little about the beer menu, and to this day I'm still confused by her explanation as to why certain beers are not allowed as samplers (they have a regular beer sampler price, and a "Belgian beer" sampler price, yet for some reason certain IPA's couldn't be sampled, because the alcohol was too high).

This is still a good place to sample imports and local beer for a fairly reasonable price, but I'd have to think twice before visiting here again. I just wasn't all that thrilled or impressed after my latest visit.

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Photo of mcarroll10177
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

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Photo of Abilow33
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

They have a large selection of local beers. I tried Gritty McDuff's Black Fly Stout and Maine Beer Company's Lunch. The stout was good and the Lunch was great. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed a good meal. They have a large food selection as well. Service was great and the atmosphere was really good.

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Photo of Samichlaus
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Stopped in here after visiting Allagash for the Vagabond release. Parking sucks especially since I drive a full size truck. The place was pretty cool looking with beer shit all over the walls. A pretty standard beer bar atmosphere but there stuff seemed slightly more interesting than most, I don't know why. I think they just might have every beer brewed in Maine on tap! The food is good to. I had a french dip special which was good and my girlfriend had a Philly cheese steak that was decent. Both were hot and fresh and a little expensive. Service was meh, but I'd definitely recommend this place to friends and will definitely return.

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Photo of berley31
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Took a cab to the Great Lost Bear from our hotel downtown, because I had read so many things about it - mainly the huge beer selection. As expected, the number of available beers did not disappoint. We were looking to try as many as possible, so both of us (my brother and I) ordered 5 of their samplers each - at $1 apiece, you really can't beat it. A lot of bars charge twice that for 5 good-sized samplers. When we made our order, our waiter didn't write anything down. 'Fine', I thought; 'He's obviously on the ball with beer orders'. When our samplers came, he had mixed up one of my beers with one of my brothers. Not such a big deal, but the next time we ordered five more, my brother made a point of writing down what he wanted, just in case. THIS time when our server brought the beers, everything was totally screwed up. For example, one 'beer' that he pointed to on my brother's tray, he identified as a double IPA he had ordered... turns out, on first sip, that it was the cider that I had ordered. After that, it was obvious there were more mistakes, and we had no clue as to what we were drinking, which kind of took the fun out of it.

Update: Was back a couple of months ago, so only fair to expand on this review. No mistakes with beer serving this time, although the waitress still admitted she knew nothing about beer. But the selection really is pretty awesome, had a few real winners when I was there, and got to try the food as well. I had a burger, which was pretty great. The menu is quite huge. Now I have to admit that this place, while maybe not as nice an atmosphere as one or two other beer bars in Portland, is always a must-stop for visits to the city.

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Photo of blackie
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
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 hoppymcgee
3.91/5  rDev -8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.75 | selection: 5 | food: 3.75

V: Cool spot; dark and dim. Horseshoe-esque bar.

Q: Excellent beers on tap. Lengthy food options.

S: Not so great.

S: Can't beat their bear (haha) and food selection.

F: Standard.

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The Great Lost Bear in Portland, ME
Place rating: 4.25 out of 5 with 188 ratings
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