Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By EMMA BOUTHILLETTE
I can remember the day I introduced my cousin to The Great Lost Bear in Portland. I wasn't of legal age to drink yet, but I loved the food and the vibe of the place. He, being a few years older than me, would surely love the beer.
Peter and Kerrilyn Welch, reps for Chickadee Wines, are regulars and enjoy lunch at the Great Lost Bear as Mike Dickson, manager and bartender, draws an Allagash Victor.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
THE GREAT LOST BEAR
WHERE: 540 Forest Ave., Portland
HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; noon to 11 p.m. Sunday
PARKING: A tiny parking lot and on-street parking
SCENE: A big, often crowded, bar on Forest Avenue that draws college kids and old-timers alike with an extensive beer list and never-ending specials
We grabbed a table in the dining room and when the waitress came to our table, he asked, "What do you have for beers on tap?"
She gave him this look of horror. I'm sure she was thinking, "Is this guy serious?"
All she did was point to the tri-fold paper menu on the table. I don't remember how many beers were on the list at the time, but now The Great Lost Bear boasts a total of 69 taps featuring mostly craft beers from the Northeast and 15 Maine microbreweries.
At some point, a list of beers that long can make it hard to choose what brew you'd like to sip. However, with such a long list, you are sure to find something you like.
In addition to the never-ending list of draft beers, the Bear always has something up its sleeve. For example, every Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., the bar has a "Craft Beer Showcase" featuring one of its craft beers at reduced prices and fun prizes throughout the night.
I recently ended up at The Great Lost Bear for a happy hour with colleagues that turned into hours for one of those Thursday nights. We all got raffle tickets; some haggled with the bartenders for a few more. When they started calling out ticket numbers, we were sure to have front-row seats to get a good look at the prizes and the lucky winners.
Of course, as one could expect, there were a number of T-shirts, hats and beer cozies given away, but that makes for a boring raffle. I think I spotted a blow-up clown in the box of goodies, maybe a Snuggie or two, and some other random items.
By the end of the night, one of my co-workers walked away with a giant (and I mean GIANT) jar of pickles.
The Bear also understands if beer is not your style. It's created an interesting drink menu to keep non-beer drinkers coming back for more. One of my favorites was the "Laspberry Rime Lickey." It's your traditional Raspberry Lime Rickey, but for adults only, and named as such because that's how you'll be saying it after drinking a few.
Just a short walk from the University of Southern Maine's Portland campus, The Great Lost Bear certainly attracts college students of legal drinking age. It's not just a college bar, though.
Open since 1979, the place has gathered a following young and old, and seems to keep people coming back with its ever-changing beers on tap, a wide variety of always-yummy food and a little something for everyone in between.
Emma Bouthillette is a freelance writer who lives in Biddeford.