Gritty McDuff’s is a brew pub and restaurant in southern Maine and an Old Port staple. I have a sentimental attachment to Gritty’s, so I felt it only fitting that it be featured in my first “real” post (and no, my “sentimental attachment” is not due solely to the fun I had there once I turned 21).
There is something about Gritty’s that, it seems to me, embodies the spirit of Maine. Maybe it’s the wide, scarred tables that invite you to sit down with friends and strangers alike; maybe it’s the way it manages to seem like a rough, tough brew pub and still be welcoming; maybe it’s the way it represents the entreprenuerial spirit of the people of Maine; or maybe it’s a combination of all of these. Regardless, Gritty’s is special and unique – even among the many and varied bars along Fore Street in the Old Port, the original Gritty’s location stands apart with a character all its own.
Gritty’s has been serving fine, handcrafted ales and traditional pub fare since 1988 – when I was just two years old. Today, they have three locations, with breweries in Lewiston-Auburn and Freeport, Maine. All three of their locations are done in the traditional style of an English brew pub, and the original brewery in Portland was actually designed and manufactured in England by Peter Austin & Partners. Their beers include: Maine’s Best IPA, The Original Pub Style (my personal favorite, “a fresh, classic pale ale… a beer that captures what made people fall in love with craft brewing in the first place”), Best Bitter, Red Claws Ale, and Black Fly Stout. They also brew a number of seasonal beers, their Halloween Ale, Christmas Ale, and the Vacationland Summer Ale, as well as their Scottish Ale, a nod to the robust brews of Scotland.
While their various craft brews are their focus and have won multiple awards, what I love about Gritty’s is not just the beer or the food, it’s the atmosphere. As a little girl, we frequently met family there for a meal (and for the adults, a brew or two), and so I have fond memories of devouring chips and salsa with my brother, sitting at one of those wide, scarred tables by the window that overlooks Fore Street.
Why did we eat there so often, you ask? Well, for many years, my father and my uncle owned the building that Gritty’s occupies in the Old Port, and one of the perks was eating for free. As an adult, my fondness for Gritty’s chip and salsa hasn’t faded, nor has my appreciation for the atmosphere at Gritty’s – it has a comfortable, broken-in feel, and is stocked not only with great beer, but also with friendly bartenders ready to serve up your favorite of their craft brews.
I hope you’ll visit them soon! Their locations’ addresses – and a few links to neat spots on their site – are below. Be sure to check out their Mug Club!
Old Port – 396 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04103 P. 207-772-BREW
Freeport – Lower Main Street, Freeport, ME 04032 P. 207-865-4321
Lewiston-Auburn – 68 Main Street, Auburn, ME 04210 P. 207-376-BREW