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The Great Lost Bear

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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 slander
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

I counted roughly 51 taps, including the 3 casks and a cider. The beer menu breaks it all out for you by beer type which makes for easy reading. Currently, roughly 30 are from Maine breweries, and about another dozen and a half hail from the other New England states. That means the beer's pretty damn fresh.
They have specials nights (Mondays & Tuesdays are "short beer nights", where they serve jumbo drafts at pint prices and then there's the Thursday Showcase where they feature a specific brewery @ $1.99 a pint). You can do a taster paddle or a beer tower, they've got a weekly draft special, it's a beautiful thing.
Service was good and the place was nicely comfortable. They have dining areas along the perimeters with pleasant collectibles posters throughtout. If there's a better beerbar up North I ain't heard about it.

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Photo of Billolick
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
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 NeroFiddled
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This place is awesome! Cool digs, very comfortable, great atmosphere, excellent service, amazing beer selection, REALLY good food - everything. Now, I'm normally a brewpub guy, but I'd much rather stop at the Bear when I'm in Maine. Kudos! Do not miss!

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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 Gavage
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A short drive from the Old Port and easy to find. Small parking lot and plenty of street parking. The building is rather dark when you walk in so your eyes need to adjust from the afternoon light. The bar is a nice big size with plenty of stools with a nice view of the 50 beers on tap. The selection was great - all Maine brews like Allagash, Casco, Shipyard, Sparhawk, etc. and some popular micros like Sierra Nevada. I like the fact they focus on the local beer market. Signs, bumper stickers, breweriana, and beer cans adorn the place.

My wife and I decided to eat lunch here since there was such a big selection of sandwiches. I opted for the Bayou Burger which was one of the best flavored burgers I have ever had. My wife had a crab wrap which she liked but didn't rave about.

The bartender was friendly, but was quite busy serving lunches to the bar and table area just outside the bar. Only stayed for 2 beers, but I wish I could have stayed all afternoon to sample more of the local Maine beers. If you are in the area you must visit this place.

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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 sholland119
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

We stopped in here early Sunday afternoon for lunch and a couple of beers. Nice place.

Great Lost Bear has a great bar vibe, appropriately dark and welcoming, with a long rectangular parquet bar and a good sized dining room on the left and behind. A bajillion or so taps, very focused on Maine breweries. Lots of Allagash (Curieux on tap and cask!), Sebago and others. We had a couple of reasonably priced sampler trays to start, followed up with a local pint.

Service was good as was the food, especially the Thai Yi Yi (fried flour tortillas with a thai chili dip-simple but yummy). Definitely worth a stop.


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Photo of Bierman9
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This is one of my favorite bier-bars anywhere. Can be viewed as having a bit of a divey aspect to it, what with Christmas lights and odds 'n' ends stuck to the walls, but it's really a gem. Many bier-related items like trays, cans, coasters also dominate the decor. They serve 50-plus (is that the right number?) draft biers, with the majority being fresh Maine biers. Nothing like Geary's Hampshire or Gritty's Halloween from cask! Service is quite good, though if you don't want a lemon in your Hefeweizen you'd best be letting them know beforehand! Otherwise, "major faux pas!". Food is varied, tasty and comes in ample portions. A MUST visit if you're in the area!

Zum Wohl!!

overall: 4.5
atmosphere: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$


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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
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 jjboesen
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

This wonderful place is worth the trip to Portland; even if you do not make it to Gritty's or Sebago or simply do not want to go to Three Dollar Dewey's, the Great Lost Bear is the epitome of beer bars in that it truly offers a representative selection of Maine's diverse styles of handcrafted beers. A warm and comfortable bar area amid a nostalgic trip through a large assortment of beerphanalia, a large (almost too large) menu with food beyond compare, food beyond belief ... and the beer! I know why it is called the Great Lost Bear: it is a great place to drink where you could just get lost and you cannot bear to leave. On my recent visit, I put in a good 6 hours - took a cab back to my hotel with a big, beery smile. If you love beer and have not been here - get here. Now!

Update: I'm going back in September!

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Photo of BillRoth
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Had been touring and tasting @ the Allagash/Industrial park breweries while on Beer Safari in Portland , Maine. Some locals said that I would probably like The Great Lost Bear if looking for supper and some more regional beers. Who was I to doubt?? And very glad I didn't. What a great place. Really cool fairly spacious semi-dark comfortable crowded restaurant with a huge big fun bar. Full bar with wine and cocktails moving regularly with a busy wait staff on a busy Saturday night. But this place was clearly beer centric with an excellent beer menu. Well constructed to guide choices by style, good descriptions...but mostly a heck of an exciting tease. Because the choices were extensive, varied and high quality. Flights were available. Staff were very friendly and cross covered each other to be sure you never lacked help or had an empty glass. Food wise menu was equally extensive with great choices ranging from a broad restaurant menu of appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, etc..to just great bar food. .Just a great place to eat. drink and have a bunch of conversations with staff (Mike) and others (Elena) at the bar. For me this would be a must stop if visiting Portland.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.83/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

THE beer mecca of Portland. A wonderful atmosphere with a few cavernous dining room areas and a long L-shaped bar. Breweriana is all over the walls, lending a local flare to this place that simple can't be beat by ANY of the other local establishments. Wow, is this place cool looking inside. Damn! The quality of the beers is spot on and the prices are superb. I was here on short beer night, and what a deal that is! They also have a bunch of Bottled brews from Bar Harbor, so I opted for the awesome Cadillac mountain stout as my first brew of the night. I also tried their famous chili. Damn was that f'in good and filling or what!? Service was fast, friendly and knowledgable as well. I can't add much to what others have said. This is a true beer bar mecca, and anyone who has easy access to this place, or even better lives up the street, is truly truly lucky. One of many great beer establishments world-wide that I would love to have as "my local". It hurts having no good beer bars within thirty minutes of your home :-( Oh well, I have to get back to Portland sometime soon and quaff here again. The gem of my beery trip to RI, NH, and ME! Do not miss!

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Photo of mynie
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

A big, homey restaurant with a great deal of character. If you're not looking directly at the bar or a beer menu, it would be easy to think this was just a large, New England-style family restaurant.

The decor is woody and softly lit, with a good amount of beer swag and some kitchy/rustic bear-related decorations. It felt like the last major renovation happened sometime between the early 1960s and mid 1980s. This, to me, is a good thing, as it goes against the pretentious, prefab homogeneity of seemingly every beer bar that's been opened this decade (you notice how EVERY place looks like an ikea set piece?)

The staff is large is attentive. Meaning, there's lot of staff members (they weren't particularly big). Again, I like this. Restaurants have been cutting down on staff nationwide in an attempt to cut costs, and that leads to crappy dining experience. GLB don't mess with that.

The beer selection was fantastic. Second best in the city, after Novare Res. They have a heavier focus on American beers than Res, however, meaning they're more likely to get in rare stuff from US brewers, wheras Res gets in Cantillion and whatfor. The Bear also does semi-tap takeovers every Thursday, which they call "Microbrew" showcases.

Their website beer list is updated pretty regularly, but it's not perfect. Printed lists are done up daily.

Overall, a venerable institution that's basically a must-stop if you're in Portland.

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Photo of rjp217
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.25

Photo of ZEB89
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of mattmarka1
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of mltobin
4.08/5  rDev -4%
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.

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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 Hibernator
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

During this past weekend, I stopped by the Great Lost Bear for lunch. This was my second time here and I have grown to like this place even more with each visit. The atmosphere is very comfortable and cozy. Various beer and random artifacts decorate the walls. Old vintage photographs, antique items and other paraphernalia make up the decor here.

The waitstaff and bartenders are personable and kind. The waitress I had on Saturday was timely, friendly, attentive and genuine.

The beer selection is a true highlight here without question. I love their dedication to showcasing Maine breweries. All of the major and not so major Maine breweries will have some representation at The Great Lost Bear. Shipyard, Allagash, Sebago, Sheepscott, Geary's and Atlantic Brewing are just some of the great beers that you'll find here. T

hey offer 54 taps with 3 cask-conditioned options. The cask drafts during my visit were Shipyard Old Thumper, Sheepscott Boothbay Bitter and Geary's Hampshire Special Ale. I tried the Geary's HSA and it was amazing. There is always a weekly draft special too. This week it's the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series (Framboise) for $2.50. What a great deal!

Here are some other draft highlights; Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Stone Coast 420 IPA, Allagash White and Allagash Four. This was the first time I had the opportunity to try Allagash Four on tap and it was memorable.

They offer around 22 bottles as well. Worth mentioning is their selection of Atlantic Coast Brewing 22 oz bombers that include the Cadillac Mountain Stout, Thunder Hole Ale and Peach Ale.

The food is your typical pub selection. Burgers, soups, wraps, sandwiches, salads, etc, but the thing that separates this place from others is that they offer some very creative and imaginative options. They also offer some great vegetarian dishes. It's comfort food and the type of food that works great with awesome beers.

I can't say enough of good things about The Great Lost Bear. The atmosphere is totally unpretentious and welcoming. I had a great time during my visit and was so pleased when I left. I can't wait to get back here for a good night of drinking pints. There are so many beers that I would love to sample throughout the course of an evening. This is certainly one place to stop by if in Portland.

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Photo of Lone_Freighter
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

Somewhat of a place where it all started for me. Some may have called it my "descent," but I called it the place where I took my "red pill" to delve further into the world of beer. Everything I've been in there, always a clean bar. Parking may be crappy, but food was always good to fantastic. Service can be iffy at certain times of the day. Close to 70 taps of beer - mostly New England breweries, but Dogfish Head, Victory, Ommegang, Flying Dog were some of the other breweries that showed their faces for beers to be found there. It's just down the street from RSVP and further back from Bier Cellar. It's worth a stop if you're in the area.

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Photo of Todd
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

The "Great Lost Bear." Just the name alone peaks the interest enough for a visit to this fine beer bar.

The atomosphere is my style. Warm, inviting, dimly lit and sectioned off into little cozy areas. You truly get the feeling that you're in a bear cave. Service wise, everyone seemed attentive and quite friendly, with some beer knowlege thrown in.

Food goes a bit beyond your typical pub menu, and then into overkill in some cases. My favourite is the "Super Burger" ... a big ass burger topped with chili, 4 cheese sauce, mushroom sauce, bacon and a fried egg. Also comes with fixings and a side of their fried chips. Just pick-up your fork and knife and attack it.

Now as far as the beer goes, there must be around 60 +/- beers available. Bottle to tap to cask, and most of them are native to Maine. Hampshire Ale on cask? I'm sold! Most impressive and the quality of the beer and pours is superb.

Great Lost Bear is an absolute must if you are in the area, and by far one of the greatest beer bars in New England ... Tell them BeerAdvocate.com sent you.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
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 Georgiabeer
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Stopped in while waiting for some family to arrive at the airport. This place is right up my alley. Great rustic feel as soon as you walk in the door, with tons of beer paraphernalia plastering the walls, including old photos, ads, and neon. This bar is the perfect balance of dive and beer mecca. Love it. The waitress I had on this particular evening was fantastic. The place was about 50% full, and it was a bit later in the evening, but she was very attentive and helpful. For a place with such a large tap list, she was very knowledgeable regarding inventory and with particular style queries. Great tap list, with a ton of rotating seasonals, locals, and imports, as well as a rotating cask. The food was great. Gastropub style with a ton of burgers and sandwiches, as well as some lighter fare, if that is what you are in the mood for. I had a sandwich and a couple of beers, and the tab was right around $18. Definitely on my list of places to return to on future visits.

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Photo of Gkruszewski
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

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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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