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Claire Jeffers

Claire Jeffers is a freelance writer living in Portland, Maine. Follow her on Twitter: @claireeats

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Posted: May 23, 2016

Cozy, beer-centric Mash Tun is a chill hangout on Portland’s Wharf Street

Written by: Claire Jeffers
The beer list at Mash Tun. Claire Jeffers photos

The beer list at Mash Tun. Claire Jeffers photos

At Mash Tun on Wharf Street, owner Ricky Binet says you can be sure that Bissell Brothers, Foundation, Maine Beer Co., Rising Tide, Allagash and Oxbow will have something on tap “99 percent” of the time. The narrow bar packs in about 40 seats and boasts an affordable food menu, like the $6 grass fed burger that comes with a big serving of fries.

Open since Feb. 12, Mash Tun – the name refers to the vessel used in the first step in the beer brewing process – is Binet’s vision to create a similar pub he used to own in Waterbury, Vermont.

“It’s a pub house, a hangout kind of bar,” he says, “not a formal place, has a relaxed atmosphere and the kind of place where conversations are just kind of going.”

Binet is also minority owner of The King’s Head on Commercial Street with his business partner Justin O’Connor. The two met at Vermont Law School over 10 years ago, and bonded over their love of quality craft beer.

But unlike The King’s Head, Mash Tun is truly a bar, not a restaurant, and while there are 18 rotating taps, the beers here are more in line with Binet’s personal taste preference.

“It’s what I like to drink,” he says, “but there’s going to be plenty of overlap with other places.”

Beer on bar.

An Allagash White and Brussels sprouts at the bar. Claire Jeffers photo

Binet’s favorite Maine craft brews include Allagash, Austin Street, and Maine Beer Company, and points to Mikkeller (Denmark) and Evil Twin (Brooklyn) as some of his choices outside of the state.

In addition to the 18 taps, there are a half dozen bottles, $8 cocktails, prosecco on tap, and a small but adequate selection of bourbon and Scotch. And every day there are $5 mimosas.

There’s a long rectangular chalkboard listing the daily taps, and Binet is comfortable if a few lines go empty during the week. “It allows us the flexibility to change the draft list around every week,” he says.

The bartenders are friendly and can tell you about every single beer, and are happy to give you a sample of as many as you’d like. If beer’s not your thing, Mash Tun gets it.

“Some people are not 100 percent into beer, they like to mix it up more,” Binet says, “Younger people want to drink a little of everything on a night out, and usually you have one person in a group who doesn’t like beer at all. You don’t want to have a group where one friend is here with nothing to drink, and that’s fine if beer is not for them.”

Weekend nights are busy for Mash Tun, and expect to stand or potentially share one of the communal booth seats in the back. Open early most days (3 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and noon Thursday through Sunday), there will be a handful of folks hanging out during the afternoon.

The entrance to Mash Tun. Claire Jeffers photo

The entrance to Mash Tun. Claire Jeffers photo

Mash Tun

WHERE: 29 Wharf Street
HOURS: 3 p.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday; Noon through closing Thursday through Sunday
AMENITIES: One large flat screen TV, additional communal seating, open kitchen, readable chalkboard, friendly staff
PARKING: On-street
BOTTOM LINE: Mash Tun is a relaxed, 40-seat bar on Wharf Street in Portland with 18 rotating drafts including anchor breweries like Bissell Brothers, Foundation, Maine Beer Co., Rising Tide, Allagash and Oxbow almost always on tap. There’s a $6 grass fed burger, other bar food, and $5 mimosas every day.

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