My passion for craft beer goes back to my childhood. My family moved to London when I was 13 and coincidentally we lived next door to a quaint little brewery. I was mesmerized daily by the sight and smell of the fresh hops and grains that were brought in from area farms. I loved the earthy aroma of the brewing process.
Throughout high school and college, the memories of those sensory experiences were imprinted on my brain and beer became a calling. Just three years after completing college, I found a kindred spirit in Richard Pfeffer. We both wanted to create something new and continue a tradition while putting our own mark on the process and the product.
In 1988, we established Gritty McDuff’s in Maine and I earned a degree in Brewing Technology at the Seibel Institute of Technology in Chicago. We set out to create small-batch, craft ales in the true English tradition. We have intentionally remained small so I could continue to personally oversee the brewing process. I believe it results in a finer product and, let’s face it, it’s fun.
Being small also means being part of an incredible community. The local brewers have a very cooperative spirit. There’s a sense of competition, but there’s also a sense of shared success.
At Gritty’s, we also enjoy being a part of our bigger Maine community. We stay involved in a variety of events and fundraisers throughout the year. A highlight for Gritty’s came in 2009, when we were asked to be the official beer of the Dempsey Challenge, a cycling event founded by actor Patrick Dempsey to support The Patrick Dempsey Cancer Center for Hope and Healing here in Maine. It was a fantastic event that had great energy and we were thrilled to be a part of it.
Today, Gritty McDuff’s is Maine’s oldest brewpub since the end of Prohibition. I’m proud to say that we’ve earned some very gratifying awards over our last 21 years including first place wins at the Real Ale Festival in Chicago and a silver medal at the 2007 Great British Beer Festival for Gritty’s cask-conditioned version of 21 IPA.
We’ve also been fortunate to gain recognition of our pubs from outlets such as Condé Nast Traveler, The Boston Globe and Playboy.com. I’m probably most flattered that Gritty’s has been voted Maine’s Best Brew Pub and Maine’s Best Bar in a couple of statewide polls conducted every year. We’ve also been voted Best Maine Microbrew. It means that our hometown really appreciates us and that matters very much to me and the rest of Gritty’s team. At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure I have the best job in the world.
Visit Gritty McDuff’s to learn more.
Last Updated: November 24, 2009