The craft beer culture in New England has been exploding as of late, with some of the most sought-after breweries in the country calling it home. The states of Maine and Vermont have become meccas, as beer drinkers regularly plan destination trips there to obtain coveted beers from the likes of The Alchemist, Maine Beer Company, Allagash, Oxbow, Hill Farmstead and many more. There is more amazing beer available in these two states than any one trip can handle and the builtup hype is quite warranted. Wedged between these two states is the oft-overlooked state of New Hampshire, and one of the other great beer cities in New England—Portsmouth.
Opening it’s doors in 1991, Portsmouth Brewery is deserving of a lot of credit for helping to build a beer culture in Portsmouth, but the brewery that has really put the town on the map is Smuttynose, which was founded just three years later. Well before there was Heady Topper, Peeper, or any Society & Solitude, Smuttynose was paving the way for craft beer in the region and has continued to remain a staple. In fact, Smuttynose has become so popular that it is now opening up the doors to its second brewery just outside Portsmouth, in the smaller town of Hampton. Located on the beautiful 14-acre Towle Farm, Smuttynose seems primed for big things in the near future. With a new 100-hectoliter brewhouse (roughly 84-barrels), they have the ability to almost double their production from the get-go. More important than increasing production, the state-of-theart system, along with a bunch of new brewery toys such as a centrifuge, will help raise the efficiency and quality of all the beer coming out. The new space also opens the doors for them to produce more of their limited offerings, expand their barrel-aged project, and introduce new beers to the market.
The new location gives Smuttynose more than just a new brewery, though. With the property came an old farmhouse which will soon be a pub and restaurant, something they were never able to offer visitors at the older location. They also now have the scenic space to park that vintage trailer from the Finestkind label, with future plans in the works for putting it to proper use. (Sadly, the two older gentlemen from the label won’t always be sitting outside waiting for you to join them for a beer.) Rounding out the property is an apple orchard, helping to keep the old farmhouse-feel of the land.
Towle Farm will definitely help make the Portsmouth region more of a destination, but there is even more going on in this quaint town. There is, of course, Portsmouth Brewery, the classic brewpub located right in the heart of town. Sharing ownership with Smuttynose, the spacious brewpub offers twelve beers on tap, made up mostly of in-house beers, with Smuttynose filling the rest of the lines. The downstairs, Jimmy LaPanza Lounge, makes for an exciting way to end the night with great beers, while you play shuffleboard or pool and watch the games (die-hard Patriots fans up here). They also offer four additional draft lines that showcase some great beers from around the country.
However, the brewery scene goes beyond just Smuttynose and Portsmouth. Redhook Ale Brewery has also long been a staple. The original location is based in Woodinville, WA, and they opened a Portsmouth location in 1996. Located on large grounds right in the Pease Tradeport, the brewery is home to a number of larger festivals and gatherings in the area. Visitors can tour the brewery or visit their pub and sample the experimental beers off their pilot system. That is not all, as the recent additions of Earth Eagle Brewings and Great Rhythm Brewing Company are showing that the brewery scene is continuing to grow. The initial demand for these breweries seems to be quite high, opening the doors to even more new breweries in the near future.
Outside of brewing, there is also a growing bar culture. With the likes of WHYM, Rí Rá, Portsmouth Book & Bar (yes, it’s a bookstore, bar, café, and restaurant all wrapped into one), Thirsty Moose and many more, there are bar options for any liking.
Located just over the bridge from Portland, Maine, the historic town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a logical craft beer destination. Between the blossoming bar scene, the incredible new Smuttynose facility, the classics breweries like Red Hook and Portsmouth Brewery, and the quaint beauty of the town—lined with small artisan shops and beautiful scenery—Portsmouth is becoming an epicenter for craft beer itself.