The Great Lost Bear


109 Reviews
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: 109 | Ratings: 185
Photo of mynie
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
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 Sound_Explorer
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

my first stop on a sweeping New England tour this really hit the spot after a long travel day. Cool to see all the Maine offerings and some national brands. Good vibe and food too. Really set the bar nicely for my trip.

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Photo of Oldportwine
4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

One of the original Portland Beer Bars. Extensive selection of craft beers, number aprox. 80 on tap. Proffessional and knowledgable staff in a very busy environment. A seemingly endless food menu covers all realms of bar food. Always a good spot to find new craft beers.

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

Love this place. My favorite vibe in town. Colorful, neighborhood and non of the pretense of some other big beer spots. Still attracts tourists and people from all over without getting watered down. Selection is just crazy and changes. Wings are the best in town. I've had a bunch of the menu and would go for a slab and crab or a one eye bacon cheeseburger right now. Place has been around for about 35 years and I hope it's around for another 35.

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Photo of scxcrunner
4.01/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Great selection of beer including Allagash, Bissell, and Foundation. Service was a bit slow and disjointed and i wasn't really crazy about the food i had but would give it another shot just for the tap list.

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Photo of BillRoth
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
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, 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 hoppymcgee
3.91/5  rDev -7.8%
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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Photo of hudsonheat
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

My first exposure to the craft beer scene (many years ago). This place will always be something special for me. Always an interesting tap list, and their sandwiches are awesome!

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Photo of bosshop
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

It was great to finally get in a visit. Funky ass place, great vibe and character. Beer list was impressive and balanced. Service was friendly, knowledgable and prompt. My food was rather disappointing, steak fajita with four huge chunks of very tough 'tips'. But, overall a nice experience and a great spot for a beer geeky couple with three kids in tow.

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Photo of Tajmohol
4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Very laid back and chill atmosphere. I enjoy sitting in the lounge area which is always busy. The selection of beers is incredible and the food menu is quite large. The service could have been faster but I'm sure that my server just had too many table which happens sometimes. I like the wings and choosing many different beers each time I come back to the GLB.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
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 Abilow33
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
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 Sinnian
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
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 supercodes
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

The Great Lost Bear is an unusual place. It is designed and maintained to be a local watering hole, with memorabilia focusing on local Portland history, and a palatable food selection, but also happens to have the largest tap selection of Allagash in the state, and a literal who's who of New England craft brews. Literally, if you want to sample the best of what New England has to offer, while drinking in a completely unpretentious atmosphere, the Bear is the place to go.

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Photo of Sudcutter
4.46/5  rDev +5.2%
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 -7.1%
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 +2.1%
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 -14.2%
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 -2.6%
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 -7.1%
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 +1.4%
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 +3.8%
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 +6.1%
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 +9.2%
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 -1.4%
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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The Great Lost Bear in Portland, ME
4.24 out of 5 based on 185 ratings.
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