WHYM Beer Cafe
Don't forget to eat something
Alex Gilbert Aviles with the highly recommended pretzels.
Photo by Susan Laughlin
The confluence of craft beer and food has never been better. At WHYM Craft Beer Café in Portsmouth, owner Alex Gilbert Aviles and his wife Gretchin search for the best local “neighbors” and regional/global “long distance relationships” beers to offer up on tap. WHYM (pronounced "whim") serves only 10 selections on draught, but they are rotated frequently, and Alex works hard to keep the lines clean for the freshest-tasting beer.
A recent selection ranged from Allagash White to Founder’s Rubaeus and local brews Blue Lobster Express and Throwback Amber’s Amber — this in addition to a nice selection of bottled beers, including Stone Sublimely Self Righteous and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout on Nitro.
Many craft beers are so full of flavor it seems redundant to eat, but at WHYM, Alex works with the kitchen to create beer-inspired food. Of course, pretzels are a favorite accompaniment and here they are baked fresh with a salty crust and served with three dips that include a smoky Gouda laced with craft stout beer and a hopped-up mustard ($7).
Other beer-inspired selections include a fresh salad with a hoppy vinaigrette and a veggie burger made with spent barley grains from Smuttynose Brewery. Mussels are steamed up with a malty Belgian-style beer to add a touch of sweetness.
Food that goes with beer need not be clever. It’s time-tested that burgers and fries do the trick nicely.
WHYM does have a nice juicy burger ($13) ground from rich beef shoulder and topped with caramelized onions, bleu cheese and pancetta. Additions such as a bit of truffle oil or poutine on their house-cut frites up the ante too.
The charcuterie and cheese board changes daily, and selections are customized at $4 an ounce for a simple beer pairing. The servers are knowledgeable "beer geeks" and are happy to suggest the best matches. Manager Kristie Martin is a big fan of hoppy IPAs with bleu cheese.
WHYM is now open for lunch at 1 p.m. offering sandwiches on their own brioche-type buns and a PLT on a freshly baked croissant, where the P stands for pancetta.
Beer and bar food have mingled nicely here, creating a relationship that should last.
Open Monday through Wednesday 3 p.m. to midnight and Thursday through Sunday 1 p.m. to midnight.