A Look at Seacoast Microbreweries and Bars
The Local's Guide to Portsmouth
Portsmouth brewing has deep roots. As far back as 1882, the city had lager bragging rights, with the country’s largest brewery — the venerable Frank Jones — located right here. The region’s current beer scene is a big attraction for visitors who will have no trouble finding their way to the taps, but locals are just as thirsty and tend to know where to look for the freshest new brews. Craft beer staples such as Redhook are still good, but, for the heart of the Portsmouth brewing community, you’ll have to go micro.
Throwback Brewery’s Annette Lee (left) and Nicole Carrier.
Earth Eagle Brewings
165 High Street in Portsmouth
Butch Heilshorn and his brother-in-law Alex McDonald had been homebrewing for a few years when they decided to open Earth Eagle. The Seacoast has no shortage of great nano- and microbreweries, but theirs is the only one that uses gruit. “Back in medieval times, gruit referred to your secret little blend of herbs that you would have for your beer,” explains Heilshorn. But Earth Eagle doesn’t keep their herbal blends secret; they proudly list ingredients such as juniper, coltsfoot and sweet gale on their chalkboard. To keep things authentic, they actually hire a forager to find seasonal plants in the New Hampshire woods. “She came in with these crazy hunter orange berries,” Heilshorn says, remembering the time they made a Mountain Ash gruit, “and I was like, ‘all right, what kind of beer can I put these in?’”
7 Hobbs Road in North Hampton
Throwback Brewery is also famous for its effort to source ingredients locally, creating beers such as their Maple-Kissed Wheat Porter and Rhubarb Wit in a renovated farmhouse only eight miles from Market Square.
Tributary Brewing Co.
10 Shapleigh Road in Kittery, Maine
Tod Mott started Tributary Brewing in 2014 after 11 years down the road at Portsmouth Brewery. It was there that he invented his world-famous Kate the Great, dubbed 2007’s Best Beer in America by BeerAdvocate —and while the rights stayed with Portsmouth, the recipe traveled with the brewer. Try Tributary’s Mott the Lesser for a strikingly similar brew to the award-winning original.
If you like the breweries above then you might want to check out some of New Hampshire Magazine's other favorite seacoast breweries:
56 Market Street in Portsmouth
Beara Irish Brewing Co.
2800 Lafayette Road in Portsmouth
Great Rhythm Brewery and Taproom
105 Bartlett Street in Portsmouth
Want even more breweries and beer news? Visit our New Hampshire Beer Guide at nhmagazine.com/beer
Now that you’ve figured out your beer order, where should you drink it?
The Press Room
77 Daniel Street in Portsmouth
The 41-year-old Press Room offers live music daily on two different stages. Shuffling through the dim brick space feels like visiting an old speakeasy; French horns and violins from the corner, tables tightly clustered together and a standing crowd at the bar make this the place to bump elbows with locals.
Coat of Arms
174 Fleet Street in Portsmouth
If you blink, you might miss this downtown British pub. Look for the bold blue door hidden in the wall, break through the gaggle of smokers outside and walk up the carpeted stairs past the antique phone booth. Here, you’ll find local cask beers, a snooker table and, on Sundays, the best trivia night in town.
The Rusty Hammer
49 Pleasant Street in Portsmouth
Originally owned by Russel “Rusty” Hammer (whom you can still catch manning the bar), this bar has always been a local, blue-collar staple, similar to State Street Saloon or Kittery’s Corner Pub. What sets Rusty apart is that it has changed with the times without losing its original charm. Having expanded the beer taps to include 32 craft and domestic beers, they’re one of the few local bars able to transcend the dichotomy of old Portsmouth and new Portsmouth.