Fall is the perfect time of year to hit Freeport for shopping at the outlet stores, leaf peeping and ending your day with dinner and homemade brews at Gritty McDuff’s Brew Pub and Restaurant.

Founders Ed Stebbins and Richard Pfeffer created Gritty McDuff’s in the pattern of English-style pubs that the entire family can enjoy, and have locations in Freeport, Portland and Lewiston/Auburn.

The Freeport restaurant boasts two large dining rooms with loads of long tables, plenty of room at the bar, a huge outdoor deck and a playground and Crooked House for the little ones.

With so many hand-crafted, homebrewed beers, it’s hard to choose just one — so try a Gritty’s Sampler. Now that it’s November, it’s too late to try the summer favorite, Vacationland, and the Halloween Ale is moving out in time for the Christmas Ale. But Best Bitter, Best Brown Ale, Black Fly Stout, Scottish Ale, Original Pub Style and 21 I.P.A. are available year-round.

My brother-in-law requests a mini-keg of Gritty’s Best Brown for Christmas every year. It’s not hard to find, because so many stores carry Gritty’s brews. If you happen to be at one of the pubs, you can pick up six-packs, 12-packs, 22-ounce bottles, 5-liter mini-kegs, or quarter and half barrels in the Gritty’s retail stores.

Lots of places have mug clubs, but Gritty’s club is one of the originals. Membership is a big enough deal that there’s a waiting list to get in. Members pay $75 annually and get their own mug at their preferred location, and earn points to be redeemed on food and $2 mug club beers on Wednesday and Sundays.

They also get to use VIP mugs at other locations and — best of all — always get 21 ounces for the price of a pint.

Gritty’s menu is a pretty big deal too. I was craving the pub mac and cheese ($5.99 for a half-order, $7.99 for full) with blackened chicken (add $2.99). I had to be talked into trying the fried jalapenos, but they added a spicy kick, and went well with the accompanying cornbread.

Shepherd’s pie ($8.99) is also on the awesome list of comfort food. Or try one of the many salads, the chicken stacker sandwich, ale-braised kielbasa ($10.99), fish and chips or one of their daily specials. Follow your meal with some Black Fly Stout cake or cranberry apple crisp for dessert.

Gritty’s in Freeport is a large pub with a small hometown feel frequented by devoted regulars, drive-by tourists and families. No matter who’s in the building, you’ll see folks there for the same reason you are — the fantastic brews, good food at good prices, and a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere. 

Amber Olesen is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.