IPA drinkers will soon find it easier to find a good option on the beer shelves.

Maine’s Best IPA from Gritty McDuff’s is not a new beer, but it has a new name and packaging.

For the company’s 21st anniversary in 2009, Gritty’s introduced 21 IPA, and since then it has sold very well in pubs and in 22-ounce bottles — which are brewed and bottled unfiltered in Freeport.

But the 12-ounce bottles sold in four-packs did not sell well.

“We decided we needed an upgrade,” co-owner and brew master Ed Stebbins said when I called him last week. “So we are putting it out in the six-pack and 12-pack format.”

Nancy and I both liked the IPA. Nancy does not like the bitterness and intensity of a lot of the West Coast-style IPAs I bring home sometimes, and she was wary about this one. But she found it “quite nice and drinkable.”


It poured a nice amber color, had a good stiff head, an aroma of pine and citrus, and just a little bit of bitterness at the end. I enjoyed it a lot.

“At Gritty’s, we like to say we brew session beer,” Stebbins said. “Our IPA (at 6.8 percent alcohol) is not a session beer per se, but this is one you can drink a couple of.”

Stebbins said the reason West Coast beers have a lot of hops is partly because that is where most of the nation’s hops are grown — although East Coast production is increasing.

When I mentioned to Stebbins that I really like his beers but do not write about them often because he so rarely introduces new ones, he countered that new beers appear regularly at the pubs — just not on the shelves at beer stores.

When we spoke, he had just started serving an oatmeal stout at the Portland Gritty’s, and said there might be some available by the time this column appeared in print. “This is a meal in a glass,” he said.

But the Freeport pub regularly serves its Special Oatmeal Stout, and it is the same beer except for the differences that come from different brewing systems and the way the yeast has transformed differently at the two sites.


To find out which new beers are coming to the pubs, just “like” Gritty’s on Facebook.

Stebbins also wanted to remind readers that Vacationland Summer Ale will be coming out soon.

SEA DOG BREWING CO., with pubs in South Portland, Topsham and Bangor, is going to be coming up with a lot of new beers in the near future.

Sade Peters, who is doing marketing and communications for Sea Dog, Federal Jack’s and the Shipyard Brew Pubs, said Sea Dog will be introducing a new beer on the first Monday of every month and offering a firkin of a new beer on the third Friday of each month.

The beers introduced on the first Monday will be around for a month, she said, but the Firkin Friday beers will stay around only until the firkins (about 72 pints each) are gone.

“We are trying to have more fun,” said Peters. “We are growing, and we really want beer to be the focus again.”


The Firkin Friday beer last week was an Imperial Stout infused with organic Peruvian Dark Roast Arabica coffee beans from Adventurous Joe Coffee in Falmouth, with a bit of maple syrup as well.

When I first drank it, I didn’t like it, finding the coffee overpowering. As I got to the second half of the glass, however, I began to like it more.

I also had the regular Imperial Stout, and it was a flavorful and potent beer, but after the coffee beer, I couldn’t detect a lot of nuances.

Peters said all of the first Monday beers are going to be varieties that have never been done before. She did say they brought back the Cabin Fever Reliever created by Peter Camplin at the original Sea Dog brewery in Camden.

“Everyone was excited to see it again,” she said, “and it probably will come back.”

The beer for April is scheduled to be an Extra Special Bitter.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:



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