by Michael Krapovicky
The more people who want to try craft beer, the more they will turn to Maine’s original, first-licensed brewpub. Gritty McDuff’s opened in 1988, and their Auburn branch opened in 2005 on the banks of the mighty Androscoggin River.
Ray Edgar has been overseeing the beer production at Gritty’s Auburn for two years as the head brewer. Their taps always poured the traditional Best Bitter, Pub Style, Brown, IPA, Black Fly Stout, and a seasonal offering. Their beer selection evolves to keep up with folks expecting different flavor profiles, so they have developed a broader palette of colors and adjuncts. In addition to the aforementioned, Gritty’s has two IPAs, a lager, and in the summertime, a wheat beer is on tap. Scottish Ale, Mt. Abram Red will be offered in the winter, as well as the popular Christmas Ale – with notes of toffee, molasses, and plums.
Gritty McDuff’s has an old English-style brewing system, with temperature-controlled rooms, and is the only Maine brewery to have an open fermentation system. However, they utilize closed fermentation technology as well. Gritty’s finds customers leaning towards reds and lagers, which thrive in a closed-fermentation system.
Gritty’s remains aware of changes in the industry and strives to maintain a cutting edge in its craft brew offerings. It is also a full-service restaurant that serves cocktails, mocktails, sodas, and coffee and has an extensive take-out menu.
Gritty’s remains the only pub in the downtown district of Auburn—within walking distance of the city buildings—and an outside riverfront seating area is a big draw to the brewpub. There are a lot of developments folks can see unfold in 2024, from a coffee shop in their front room to new signage and lighting. Gritty’s continues to evolve while remaining the community staple pub it has always been.
Lost Valley Brewing Co.
The citizens of LA have long frequented the Lost Valley Ski Area, nestled in a lovely forest setting in Auburn. Lost Valley Brewing Company (LVB) was launched on Feb 28th, 2018, at Lost Valley Ski Area with a tremendous pub event. The first emptied keg was affixed to a set of skis and launched off a massive jump on Big Buck trail, adorned with flares.
Lost Valley Brewing Co. beers are enjoyed on draft at Lost Valley’s family-friendly brewpub and helps support the vibe that exists around the ski area. Whether hanging out by the fire pit after a day of skiing or enjoying a pint at one of the numerous summer events and concerts, LVB’s smooth, tasty brews are sure to satisfy. LVB has a small, three-barrel brew system onsite at Lost Valley. In the spring of 2023, they hit the public market with the release of Otterslide IPA on draft and in cans at restaurants, convenience stores, and other retail locations in Maine. Recently, LVB expanded its distribution to include Rhode Island.
Lost Valley’s brewpub has a full kitchen and bar service with food offerings such as burgers, pizza, wings, and other elevated pub fare. The bar has a full array of Lost Valley brews, other local favorites, and wine, cider, seltzer, and mixed drinks.
Lost Valley’s Brewpub is open year-round every day the ski area is open in the winter, and typically Wednesday through Friday in the spring, summer, and fall.
Side by Each Brewing Co.
Side By Each Brewing Co. was founded with the goal of bringing people together over tasty beverages in a welcoming environment. Craft beer has been the main focus of their taproom, with 15 to 18 beers in a wide range of styles – unique and eclectic creations. Side By Each’s full beer lineup is available in growlers, which preserves beer quality better than most bottling and canning lines, but by popular demand, now customers can get four or five of their signature brews in cans, as well.
Along with beer, Side By Each offers a selection of hard ciders and wines and an extensive range of non-alcoholic drinks, from sodas to juice to homemade chocolate milk and mocktails. Side By Each was innovative in offering a full coffee and espresso bar. In 2023, they began roasting their own coffee, hiring award-winning roaster Travis Spear to create a diverse and dynamic range of small-batch, hand-crafted roasts.
Another significant change in 2023 came with the addition of their kitchen, offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a creative brewpub menu focused on pairing with beer, coffee, and our other beverages enhancing the Side By Each experience. As does an evolving lineup of live music, trivia, karaoke, and other events almost every night.
Side By Each is a fair-wage employer with a highly diverse staff. Over half the staff at Side By Each are women, and all but two senior leadership roles are filled by women, including the general manager, operations manager, executive chef, and brewer. Employees are not tipped – Side By Each proffer that customer service is integral to their business, not something for which it’s necessary to be paid extra.
Side By Each continues to evolve, but the dedication to its values remains the same – creative and top-quality products, commitment to community, and offering a great place to work and to visit – trying to do good.
BAXTER Brewing CO.
Baxter Brewing has always identified itself among Maine breweries with innovative production measures and consistent, accessible varietals. Founded by Auburn native Luke Livingston in 2011, Baxter became the sixteenth brewery licensed in Maine. Baxter was the first brewery in Maine to produce more than 4,000 barrels in their inaugural year. Baxter was the first New England brewery to be all-can and create a West Coast IPA, Stowaway, which is their flagship offering. Their Window Seat Porter won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Fest in 2015 and remains a constant favorite of Baxter customers.
In 2019, Luke Livingston retired from Baxter Brewing and appointed Jenn Lever, Auburn native and fellow ELHS graduate, as president. She and the entire Baxter team are seeking ways to involve craft beer in different food offerings, specials, and functions, employing creative individuals from the LA community. Lever is a strong advocate for the community here in LA, and is always partnering with other breweries for charitable and entertaining events throughout the year.
Initially providing a small tasting room in the Bates Mill, Baxter expanded their footprint and officially rebranded the space as the Pub at Baxter. The space has a beautiful, communal ambiance and is adorned with some old mill equipment for a unique view of the historical significance the building has to LA. The Pub at Baxter provides a versatile location for special events such as fundraisers, wedding receptions, wakes, and other gatherings.
Baxter is planning a February 2024 non-alcoholic release, reflecting their commitment to serving all members of greater LA, including its growing sober population.
RUSTY BUS BREWING co.
Downtown Lewiston’s newest brewery is Rusty Bus Brewing Company. Very passionate about being in the industry, Rusty Bus seeks to create fine craft brews as well as support as many of the other breweries in LA as possible.
Nikki and Peter Ouellette had been given a home brew kit for Christmas, brewing their first batch in March of 2016. The couple decided to check out the industry and started visiting small breweries around Southern Maine. Over the next couple of years, they honed their skills and recipes and started planning to open a small brewery.
In 2019, the Ouellettes purchased a complete turn-key brewing system from Grateful Grains Brewing in Monmouth. They then started picking up more equipment and supplies and looking for a space to open.
In July of 2021, the Ouellettes entered a contest through the Downtown Lewiston Association and the LA Metro Chamber to attract new businesses to the Lower Lisbon Street area. The couple was awarded one year free rent for the spot at 120 Lisbon St., one year of legal advice and assistance from Skelton, Taintor, and Abbott, and an advertising package through Warp and Weft. Build-out was completed in November of 2022, and Rusty Bus Brewing opened its doors on December 10, 2022.
Nikki Ouellette is a member of the Maine Chapter of the Pink Boots Society, an organization for women in the industry. She handles the administrative duties, organizes events and entertainment, and works in the taproom.
Rusty Bus offers seven beers on tap and is open Thursday through Saturday. Rusty Bus celebrated its first anniversary by brewing a special Annual Inspection Coconut Anniversary Ale, with the sweet, fruity flavors of coconut and vanilla and the warmness of cinnamon.
Like you need a reason to visit and sample the best from LA’s craft brewhouses, but we are offering an incentive to check out these five brewpubs during the first quarter of 2024.
Up to three group trails will be hosted by LA Metro Magazine, allowing individuals to experience all five in one day with provided transportation. One will have a pickup and drop off location locally in Lewiston Auburn, another leaving from the Brunswick area with a stop likely in Lisbon Falls, and one more from Oxford. Tickets will be $50 per person, including transportation, one 12-ounce beer from each brewery, and prearranged snacks. Group trails are tentatively set to happen in March.
People completing the Beer Trail on their own will use this page to get stamped at each brewery. Once they have patrolled each location, they can come into the LA Metro Magazine office to submit their sheet.
Each person who completes the Trail, either in a group or individually, will automatically receive a General Admission ticket to the 2024 Great Falls Brew Fest.
Participants are encouraged to post on social media during their experience on the Trail for another “chance-to-win prize.”
The finest of Maine’s brewhouses are right here in LA; come visit the Trail and see for yourself!
Want tickets? Call 207.783.7039 or Purchase online
visit: 2 Great Falls Plaza Suite 1B, Auburn