Federal Jack’s Restaurant & Brew Pub, known fondly to locals as Feds, is a great little stop in Kennebunk’s Lower Village. During the summer months, the bar and restaurant is typically packed with tourists wandering about Kennebunkport and over the bridge into Kennebunk, but it’s open year round for regulars and locals who want to visit without all the crowds.
From the bar area, the views are obscured by restaurant seating, but if you grab a seat outside, you can get a good look down the Kennebunk River and admire all the fancy boats in the marinas. The building itself is on the site where Kennebunk’s historic 19th-century shipyards built schooners known worldwide — one of which was named the Federal Jack.
When Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley established Kennebunkport Brewing Co. and Federal Jack’s in 1992, one of Maine’s first brewpubs was born. The demand required more space, and eventually the brew operations moved to Portland and became Shipyard Brewing Co.
Today, the bar at Federal Jack’s still offers a full spectrum of brews from Shipyard.
One of my personal favorite brews is Old Thumper, but during the summer months there’s Summer Ale, and come fall, it is hard to top Pumpkinhead.
Of course, with creative bartenders, it’s hard to stick with just beer. One of the bar’s June drink specials was “Peach Sweet Tea.” The drink starts with Jack Daniels Honey mixed with unsweetened iced tea and topped with peach schnapps.
Federal Jack’s is busiest in the summer months, but I can’t remember a time I’ve gone that it’s not been busy. The wrap-around bar usually has patrons in every seat and sometimes standing. The back room with pool tables often has a couple of games in progress.
When it is warm out, waiting is a non-issue because you can grab a drink and sit along the bar rail outside. I know the views and vessels probably enamor people, but my personal favorite is looking down to the parking lot. People will drive all the way in and discover there isn’t a spot available. Then they have to turn around or back out. That alone is quite funny (and I say this fully realizing someone upstairs has probably laughed at my driving skills whilst I tried to park).
If you’re in the area for a Friday or Saturday night, stop in for live entertainment. The bar has some great bands ready to kick off at 10:30 p.m. both nights for some good music and dancing.
There’s also a mug club you can join, which means if you’re a member, you can enjoy $2.50 mugs all day on Mondays. See the bartender if you’ve got Mondays free and want to drink on the cheap.
If you go in soon, wish the bar a happy 21st birthday — the place that serves you tasty brews and cocktails is finally of age as of June 15.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.