A Trip to Portsmouth New Hampshire for Beer Enlightenment

Yesterday I — and 25 accomplices — hopped in the car (post-brunch at Portland’s The Good Egg) and made our way across the border to the town of Portsmouth, NH in search of some much-needed beer enlightenment. Our quest first Peter at the Smuttynose Bottling Linebrought us to the Smuttynose Brewery, which is located in a small warehouse hidden in an industrial park on the outskirts of town. The brewery is normally closed on Saturdays but Peter Egelston, the company’s president and founder (who also owns the famous Portsmouth Brewery and used to co-own the North Hampton Brewery with his sister, Janet), was kind enough to come in on his day off and show us around.

Peter poured samples for us all (including the company’s brand new stout, which is currently only available at the Barley Pub in nearby Dover, NH), then we all wound our way way through the very crampedgrain storage at Smuttynose brewhouse and bottling line. Smuttynose has long since outgrown the space it’s currently in, but Peter told us to expect an all-new Smuttynose Brewery — complete with restaurant, gift shop & expanded tour schedule — within the next 24 months. He wasn’t able to confirm that they would be staying in Portsmouth (due largely to zoning restrictions) but promised to stay somewhere nearby, and still on the Seacoast. The biggest piece of news, however, came when Peter promised that the new digs would be entirely “green” and would meet the highest standards of sustainability.

The Smuttynose tour was one of the best I’ve ever done; Peter took his time and really got into the details of brewing (as opposed to the more common scripted tours, done as a marketing ploy) with plenty of anecdotes and history lessons. The whole adventure wound down with plenty of pours of Shoals Pale Ale and Old Brown Dog Ale and a great time was certainly had by all.

Samples at Smuttynose
After things wrapped up at Smuttynose, there was still one more stop to make – sorry to be leaving Peter, we all went out into the cold, piled in our cars and hit the road towards the Redhook Brewery in nearby Pease International Tradeport. The enormous Redhook brewery in Portsmouth –which was built to look just like the one located outside of Seattle — is a monument to modern brewing, no doubt about it.Bottling line at Redhook We were able to arrange a private tour of Redhook as well and were shown around by Redhook’s tour director Byron (a short, red-cheeked, jolly man who carried his beer in an old Dasani water bottle with him the entire time), who poured us all a big glass of Redhook’s ESB — their flagship brew — before the tour even began.This tour was much different than the Smuttynose tour, but still better than most. While there was a little less technical information, Byron had a great (if not a little drunken) sense of humor and kept everything light and quick. Before we knew it, we had breezed through the the tour (which was abbreviated since we weren’t able to see the brewery’s cellar, which was having the floors redone) and were on to the tasting room.There Byron kept everyone’s small, commemorative glass overflowing with ESB, Redhook’s Blonde Ale, Long Hammer IPA, Winterhook (their current seasonal) and Widmer Bros. Hefeweizen. samples of malt & hops in the tasting room at Redhook

We finished off the day with a late lunch in the restaurant at Redhook, with plenty of clam chowder and pitchers of IPA (and a few glasses of Treblehook Barleywine to boot) to go around.

While I do love all the beer Portland has to offer, it was great to get out of the city and see (and TASTE) some of the fantastic beers elsewhere in New England. Many thanks to both Peter and Byron for helping us all on our paths to beer enlightenment; the day was one I’m sure none of us who were in attendance will soon forget.

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  1. I moved to Portsmouth three months ago and I’ve been enjoying the beer here as well! Just one correction to your post – I think you’re thinking of the Barley Pub in Dover, NH (not Durham). I don’t know of a Barley Pub in Durham and it’s not very big. 😉

    Glad you had fun!

  2. Dover… Durham… you see how I could be confused. Thanks for reading and enjoy Portsmouth!

  3. It was definitely a good time! Next time we’ll go down to Portsmouth Brewery and get some burritos at Loco Coco’s in Kittery! Long live road trips to breweries!

  4. Hey Dude,

    The brewery tours seem really cool and make me want to get out and go to some other than the Sam Adams one I went on way back when. Have you ever been to the Harpoon brewery, and if so, what were your thoughts?

    Also, added you to the blogroll on me and Duff’s site so hopefully you get some more trafiic from that. Feel free to link us up as well if you like.

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