About

A Little Gritty History

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Since 1988, Gritty McDuff’s has been creating fine, handcrafted ales and traditional pub fare. From our humble beginnings as a small brew pub in Portland’s Old Port, we’ve grown to become the brew pub of choice for Mainers and folks “from away”. From the start, Gritty’s was at the forefront of the brewing renaissance in the Maine. Founders Ed Stebbins and Richard Pfeffer had two simple goals in mind: to create a true, English-style pub serving fresh ales and great food, and to have fun doing it.

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Ever since we opened our doors, the accolades for Gritty McDuff’s have been piling up. Gritty’s has frequently been awarded the titles of “Maine’s Best Brew Pub”, “Best Maine Microbrew” and “Best Bar” in statewide polls. Gritty’s ales have been repeat winners at the annual Real Ale Festival in Chicago and have also appeared as Featured International Selections at the Great British Beer Festival.

Just Ask Ed...

Can you ship beer to me?

Sorry, Maine State Law doesn’t allow Gritty’s to ship our fine ales. Your best bet is to jump in the truck, drive to either our Portland or Freeport Brewtiques and buy your favorite Gritty’s beer. We sell 22 ounce bottles and 5 liter mini kegs in Freeport (but not 12 ounce bottles) and we sell 22 ounce bottles and six or twelve packs of 12 ounce bottles in our Portland Brewtique.

What states are your beers sold in?

We currently sell Gritty’s in Maine (obviously), Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and in upper New York state. You might also be able to find our fine ales in Philadelphia and in New Jersey. We sell very small quantities there on a limited basis. We do not have plans to expand to the west coast, Florida, the Washington DC metro area or anywhere else for that matter. We know our beer is best and freshest if we keep it close to the mother ship in Maine.

Do you sell growlers?

Yes! We sell growlers of Gritty’s at all our Brew Pubs. We sell either glass or plastic growlers and if you bring the growler back, we’ll exchange that “used” growler for a new one. To get started just ask the bartender for a growler. One note: Maine State law doesn’t allow us to fill any growler you bring in for us to fill. We have to use our own containers. (Don’t blame us, call your state law maker!)

Do you offer organized brewery tours?

There is nothing organized about Gritty’s… Seriously, we typically don’t offer organized tours, but you can ask to see the brewery at any of our brew pubs anytime you want. Just ask the bartender or your server. If the brewers are there and they’re not at a critical stage in the brewing process, they would be happy to show you around and tell you all about their craft. In Portland, we recommend you go on one of the tours by Maine Foodie Tours. They stop at our brew pub.

Why aren’t your menus the same in all your locations?

We have standardized as much of the “base” menu as possible between the locations, but there are differences because all our kitchens are different sizes and have different equipment.  For example, we don’t have room for a pizza oven in Portland, but Freeport and Auburn have pizza ovens because they have the space. This means we can’t offer pizza or quesadillas in Portland, but we do offer them in Freeport and Auburn. We also let the chefs in each location be creative with the seasonal menus, so those menus vary between locations. This gives the chefs an opportunity to show-off and be creative – which adds some variety to our food.

Why are some Gritty’s beers only sold on draft or just in six packs or 22 ounce bottles?

It’s a complicated answer, but in a nutshell, the market dictates which packages we offer which beers in. For example, Black Fly Stout is only offered on draft or in 22 ounce bottles. We used to offer it in six packs of 12 ounce bottles. But to do that required us to brew a large quantity of Black Fly Stout. There aren’t that many stout drinkers, so they couldn’t drink that many six packs to keep the six packs from getting old. Which means we had age/quality issues with those six packs. (Ever see a bottle cap explode off the bottle – it’s cool, but we really don’t want that happening…) Anyway, we now brew Black Fly Stout in smaller hand-crafted batches and put it in 22 ounce bottles. This increases the freshness of the beer and ensures our stout drinkers get a great tasting product. Whatever package will ensure you get the best beer dictates how we package it. In the end, the best package is a pint glass from our own brew pubs.

Is it true that Gritty’s is brewed at Shipyard?

Yes, it’s sort of true. The beer you drink in our brew pubs is brewed in house in each pub. You’re never more than 50 feet from grain to glass. In fact, that’s kind of old school these days. Some brew pubs have a centralized brewery and they ship their uncarbonated beer to their pubs. Then carbonate and “finish” their beer on site. We still brew in house. The grain and hops come in, we add water and yeast and voila – a few days later you’re drinking beer. That said, all our six packs and twelve packs are brewed and bottled to our specifications at Shipyard. This is called “contract brewing.” It’s a common practice in the brewing industry. We contact brew with Shipyard because brewing and bottling on such a large scale can’t be done in our brew pubs. We do brew & bottle all the draft beer or 22 ounce bottles that are sold outside our own brew pubs at our Freeport location. These products are shipped all over New England.

How come you guys offer some beers in one location and not in the other locations?

Those crazy brewers pretty much do whatever they want! The straight answer is the brewers like to experiment and innovate. Based on what is currently on tap and how much tank space they have at the time, each brewery might offer a new and exciting small batch brew. If they brew enough, the brewers might share it with the other brew pubs, but that brew pub might, or might not have the tap space to offer that beer at that moment.  So the beers offered at each brew pub are constantly changing – which makes it more fun. You never know what small batch ales will be on tap.

Are your pubs dog friendly?

We love dogs but because we serve food and beer there are rules: Designated service dogs are allowed inside all our locations. “Everyday” dogs are not allowed inside any of our pubs. If your dog is well behaved and will lay quietly under your table, we allow dogs on the patio at our Portland brew pub. We’ll even be happy to bring your dog a bowl of fresh cold water. Dogs are not allowed on the deck or in the backyard at our Freeport brew pub. There are just too many children playing in the backyard or moving around the deck to offer a safe environment for them or your pet. Unfortunately, we can’t let dogs on the deck at our Auburn location either.  Sorry, no cats, hamsters, boa constrictors, falcons or other pets allowed – just dogs and just on the patio in Portland.

What was the first beer you brewed and sold at Gritty’s?

That’s easy! It was “Best Bitter” and Ed and Richard brewed and sold it on December 21st, 1988.

What the heck is that brick thing on your logo?

That’s a brick lined, copper-topped brew kettle. There is one in every one of our brew pubs. The brew kettles are the heart and soul of what Gritty’s is all about.

What are all those mugs hanging above your bar for?

Those mugs belong to the mug club. For an annual fee the members buy a mug. The mug hangs above the bar and only the person who owns it, gets to use their mug. Each mug is numbered on the bottom of the mug. In return for forking over an annual fee, we offer the mug club members some benefits. On certain days of the week a full mug of beer only costs $2 and on non-mug club days, they get roughly 21 ounces of beer for the same price as a 16 ounce pint. We also offer discounts on food and merch, go on the occasional field trip and play in the mug club olympics.

When are you going to build more pubs?

We get asked this question all the time. Several factors come into play: it has to be the right time, the right location, the right building and the right market. Rest assured if we decide to build a brew pub in your area, you’ll know about it.

If you have a question that was not answered here, you can send your question below.