Raising the Bar
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Long time no blog! Between transitioning into a new career, trying to stay some semblance of fit, and life in general, 2019 is already shaping up to be a year filled with excitement and opportunity. So with St. Patrick's Day upon us, and my all-time favorite pub $3 Dewey's making its grand return, there's no better time than to talk about what Portland does best: booze! More specifically, the cozy brew pubs tucked away in centuries-old brick buildings and the liquor-soaked hovels hidden underground all across town. I'm going to go over a few of my favorites, and why they should be yours too!
Three Dollar Deweys
Gotta start off with the aforementioned king of the Portland brew scene. Over 40 years old and boasting one of Portland's largest selections of beers on tap, from near and far, $3 Dewey's holds a special place in my heart. ($1 Lookie, $2 Touchy, $3 Dewey!) I've been coming here for as long as I can remember. The free popcorn, always buttery and ever-flowing. The old wooden booths and long communal tables that encouraged conversations with strangers. Everything about Dewey's feels like home, and so perfectly Portland.
My mainstay dish was their turkey club with a side of Kraft mac 'n cheese (yes, off the kid's menu) Nothing felt finer. That is of course until the owner, Alan D. Eames, announced that after four decades of service that Dewey's would be closing down. Eames was a self-proclaimed 'beer anthropologist' who prided himself on traveling the world to find the best brews to bring back to us lucky locals back home. It felt like such a travesty for Portlanders.
So when the sign 'Returning Soon' went up in the windows, it was like releasing a long held breath of relief. Joe Christopher, founder of Three Rivers, Inn by the River at The Forks and the recently acquired Sugarloaf Inn, is the man to thank for bringing this treasure back from slumber. With a new coat of paint, redone hardwood floors, and an extra bar where the cash registers used to be, it was pretty much just as I remembered. Even the popcorn was back!
With an updated menu boasting such treats as English Pub Poutine and Brew Pub Sprouts, I can make peace with letting go of my all-time favorite club and macaroni combo. I even joined their Mug Club! I felt I owed it to them. (Also, free t-shirt and food/drink specials! Can't beat that!) So if you have a free afternoon, go have a frosty brew, get a big bowl of popcorn, and enjoy good company in a small piece of Portland's history.
I. Love. Bramhall. It's everything a pub should be. Small, cozy, and with a plentiful selection. Their mountainous shrine of melted candles, dim mood lighting and old brick walls create the perfect environment to hunker down in during a snow storm or cold winter night. Both the liquor and beer selections are generous and the food is equally as giving in its quality. Wait. Hold on. We NEED to talk about their burger. Bramhall just might have what I consider to be the best burger in Portland. Maybe even Maine? The face of the Earth???
Everything about the Bramhall Burger is perfect from the onion bun to the perfectly pink medium-rare beef patty to the special sauce...Ugh, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Do yourself a favor and try their burger for yourself, because I refuse to fight anyone over this accusation until they've tried it themselves.
Portland's best (or worst?) kept secret: Lincoln's small underground hideaway feels like a Prohibition-era dirty little secret that you both want to keep all to yourself and simultaneously share with everyone. Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, is $5 at Lincoln's. Beer, wine, well liquors, even their mac chili for those who didn't think to line their tummies with carbs before hitting the town. But you better bring physical cash because if you want the drinks you gotta bring the liquid. Not to mention they have a local comedy night every Thursday, so those cheap drinks might come in handy while you're trying to choke down a bad joke or two.
(No link. Go find it for yourself!)
Could I compare thee to a summer's day? I mean maybe because during the summer, there's no better place to be than Novare Res' outdoor deck. Boasting some dope ass Lisa Frank artwork on the walls, twinkling string lights and tucked away between some tall old brick buildings, Novare Res just drips with charm and delight on a warm summer evening. Boasting a massive beer menu with brews from all over the world, there's no better place for a beer geek to get his or her hops on.
From stouts to ciders to mead, there's a delightfully fermented drink for all to enjoy. Also if you love yourself and care about your well being, you'll order their Crab Rangoon Grilled Cheese. Just do it. Don't ask questions. Treat yoself. Also don't share, there's only four slices and you'll definitely want all of them.
Great Lost Bear
Another long time darling of mine, like $3 Dewey's, GLB is a Portland staple that I've been going to since I was in diapers. Boasting 70+ beer taps and a divey-but-not atmosphere that welcomes all, it's one of the city's definitive pub experiences. Charming vintage memorabilia decorates the walls, most of it sporting old Portland sports teams or high school classes from somewhere up in The County.
The menu is 100% pub food but accommodating as hell. You've got vegan options, vegetarian, sandwiches, burritos, burgers, and of course, the BBQ Hot Mess (a mason jar stacked with mac 'n cheese, pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans and a jalapeno popper on top) There's a bite and a brew for everyone at the GLB, just don't ask for a PBR. I once asked for my favorite blue-ribbon award winning beer and was brought a glass of water. These guys know their beer, and take it quite seriously.
I could go on all night about Portland pubs but honestly there's too many to count! And I love them all, but these guys are in my upper echelon. When it comes to food and beer selection, these folks can't be beat in my opinion. Have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day, enjoy some good beer and good company, and I'll be back to discuss another Instagram Story poll topic soon. Frannie out!