The NH Seacoast Beer Scene
Our seacoast may only boast 11 miles, but it sure is packed with breweries, beer lovers and even beer history
Beer sampler at the Portsmouth Brewery
Photo by P.T. Sullivan
At 6:45 p.m. on March 4, 2012, the last drop of that year’s Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout poured from the taps of the Portsmouth Brewery. Little did beer fans across the world know, it would be the last they would see of that beer for the foreseeable future. A few months later Tod Mott stepped down as head brewer to begin his own venture. For many, Kate the Great, a beer brewed by Mott, was the anchor that held the craft beer scene together on the Seacoast. The beer ranked as the number two most-sought-after beer in the world by Beer Advocate Magazine and lines stretched far beyond Market Square in Portsmouth just to get a taste on the annual Kate the Great Day. Would the Seacoast craft beer scene survive without the “great” beer? Fear not, weary beer drinker — there was never a doubt.
In August of 2011, Nicole Carrier and Annette Lee opened the tasting room at Throwback Brewery. This brewery was met with much fanfare and plenty of thirsty and eager beer drinkers. From their Dippity-Do Brown Ale to their Fat Alberta Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout, there is a beer for everyone to drink and brag about to their West Coast friends.
In November of 2012, Alex McDonald and Butch Heilshorn opened up Earth Eagle Brewings at the same location as A&G Homebrew Supply (owned by Alex and his wife Gretchen) in Portsmouth. Earth Eagle’s main drive is the gruit, a style of beer that goes as far back as the 11th century, using spices and herbs in place of hops. Their take on the style allows for amateurs and hop heads alike to come together to enjoy a local and flavorful beer.
As for the Portsmouth Brewery, when Mott left, his assistant brewer Tyler Jones took the reins. Jones maintained the momentum that some feared the Brewery would lose by brewing the kind of great beer that still fills up the LaPanza lounge with beer geeks.
The craft industry on the Seacoast is continuing to grow with the solid foundation set by local breweries. With plenty of beer already pouring from Seacoast breweries Redhook, Smuttynose, Portsmouth Brewery, Throwback Brewery, Earth Eagle Brewings and Blue Lobster Brewing Company, beer enthusiasts are still always looking for more interesting flavors and places to visit.
The thriving beer scene in Portsmouth is also has deep historical roots, from late-1800s beer distribution pioneer Frank Jones to local taverns Pitt and Stoodley’s where some early sparks of the American Revolution caught fire. Learn all about the 300 years of beer history at Strawbery Banke Museum’s “Tapping Portsmouth” exhibit running through the end of October.