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Portsmouth is a buzzing metropolis in Rockingham County, New Hampshire. The city features a historic seaport with ample nightlife, a thriving beer scene, and is a renowned summer tourist resort on the picturesque Piscataqua River.
Portsmouth is a fantastic tourist destination, just a mere 60 miles north of Boston.
Portsmouth is particularly well-known for its traditional breweries and brewing practices, producing a diverse selection of beers and unique beer styles. It has played a significant role in the history of New Hampshire shipbuilding and trade, resulting in a massive influx of workers to the region. This influx created a market and deep passion for authentic handcrafted beer. Portsmouth Beer is extremely popular and sold locally, nationally, and globally.
My obsession with quality beer has led me to spend countless hours in bars, brewpubs, taverns, and breweries. I have traveled to 10 countries to expand my beer horizons, including Germany, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Malta, England, and Iceland. I have replicated numerous interesting beer recipes I encountered along the way, and I am positive that you will appreciate the quality and depth of beer produced in this city.
This guide will take you on a tour of the best breweries in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It will look into the different types of beer and breweries that are accessible in the port city, as well as the best beers that are available and why you should try them while on your visit.
Bottom Line Up Front
Portsmouth Beer is highly respected and consumed across the globe. Locals are spoilt for choice in Portsmouth, with the city housing a selection of exceptional breweries producing world-class beers.
Great Rhythm Brewery is my top pick for the best brewery in Portsmouth because it extends the tranquil and laid-back environment that I am be drawn to, offering a magnificent view of the North Mill Pond, outstanding beer, and soulful music. The staff is friendly and efficient, giving you a family feel you might get from your local watering hole.
There is delightful pizza nearby if you want to grab some food while you wait for the next round, and the beer these guys produce is one-of-a-kind and well worth the trip.
Overview: Top Picks at a Glance
- Portsmouth Brewery – Most Historic Brewery
- Earth Eagle Brewery – Best Food
- Great Rhythm Brewing Co. – Best Overall Brewery
- Tributary Brewing Company – Best Beer
- Liars Bench Beer Co. – Best Outdoor Beer Garden
The History of Portsmouth (NH) Beer
When it concerns beer and the brewing industry, Portsmouth has a rich and lengthy history. In Portsmouth, breweries were first officially documented in 1635, with most beers made in local taverns for the next two centuries.
From 1859 until prohibition in 1917, Frank Jones Brewery was the leading brewery. The State of New Hampshire went without a brewery from 1950 until the building of the Anheuser-Busch regional brewery in 1970. Portsmouth has recently been re-established as the New Hampshire brewing capital, boasting the second and third largest breweries in the State.
Some adapt better to change than others, and Portsmouthians do not like change. For many years, traditional and authentic beers were the order of the day, and the modern home, nano, and micro-brewing craft beer movement has been notably slower to catch on in the region. However, change is upon us, and there is sufficient evidence that the modern craft beer culture is rapidly gaining momentum in the city while still staying true to its traditions and heritage, and the results are impressive.
To feature in this guide, all breweries are subject to a stringent yet fair selection criterion. Only the best breweries in Portsmouth are featured, and to be considered the best, each brewery must excel in the following categories:
- Cleanliness: Cleanliness and an effective sanitary program are essential at all breweries, beer rooms, and taprooms. Towards the end of a long night of festivities, establishments that sell alcohol tend to get a little messy. Cleanliness should be a priority to ensure all patrons have a memorable time.
- Quality Beer: All breweries featured produce and sell exceptional and authentic Portsmouth beer. I understand that our love for beer draws us to these establishments, and anything below excellence will not feature in this guide.
- Customer Service: Friendly and efficient service by knowledgeable and customer-focused staff is key to a good evening. All breweries in this guide feature this caliber of staff, with many offering a welcoming and family atmosphere.
- Location: A good site with quality facilities is crucial and should afford patrons all amenities and luxuries possible. Ample parking is not a deal breaker, but I try to feature breweries with sufficient parking, particularly for customers with young families.
Best Breweries in Portsmouth (NH)
Portsmouth Brewery, founded some thirty years ago, is the original craft brewery in New Hampshire. The brewery is mainly utilized for dancing, organizing parties, special occasions, and exploring the world of beer. Portsmouth Brewery is considered a public place where people may congregate and socialize with their neighbors and friends.
Portsmouth Brewery has been a preferred location for both business and pleasure since 1991, and in 2022 it was voted Best After Work Bar and Best Business Lunch destination.
Portsmouth Brewery is committed to minimizing its environmental effect by partnering with Mr. Fox composting, a locally owned firm committed to organic excellence. Compost is delivered to nearby fields and subsequently converted into fertilizer. Once harvested, all produce grown on the farms can be purchased from the Portsmouth brewery. I love and appreciate initiatives like this.
Portsmouth Brewery also offers a variety of food options, including nachos, gigantic pretzels, burgers, and sandwiches, simultaneously catering to your sweet tooth with smooth and creamy signature Gelato.
The Portsmouth Brewery is a lovely brewery to spend an afternoon or evening. I like that the brewery is a public space, and it seems like everybody knows each other. It is Portsmouth’s Original Craft brewery, with loads of history and heritage.
What Is on Tap?
Weizenheimer is a classic American wheat beer with an average of 5.1% ABV and just happens to be the most popular summer beer in Portsmouth. It has a mild, crisp flavor that is easy to drink and refreshing. The Weizenheimer grain bill features a make-up of 55% wheat malt and 45% barley, which is an uncommon combination, but the end product is remarkable.
Typical of wheat beers, Weizenheimer is exceptionally smooth with a soft mouthfeel and complemented by malty notes from the barley. It is the perfect beer for hot summer days but is just as satisfying on a cold autumn evening by the fire.
Weizenheimer pairs well with most food and goes down well during the day, and at night, it is easy to understand why it is the most popular beer in Portsmouth.
With a moderate 5% ABV, 80s Shillings Export Ale is as robust as William Wallace and his warriors and was built to withstand extended transatlantic trips. This beer style originated in Scotland in the late 1800s, and this version is an excellent example of an original Scottish Export Ale.
The 80s Shilling Scottish Export is a fruity, medium-bodied Ale brewed with traditional Scottish Golden Promise malt. It is a fine Ale imparting rich notes of creamy caramel, toasted bread, and raw honey, followed by a full-flavored, crisp, and dry finish.
80s Shilling Export Ale is surprisingly refreshing and thirst-quenching. It pairs well with just about food, particularly old-fashioned fish and french fries.
Coffee Milk Stout
Coffee Milk Stout is sweet, full-bodied, and rewarding. Displaying creative craft, Coffee Milk Stout is elegantly infused with premium cold-brewed coffee from Port City Coffee Roasters, resulting in a delightful creation that sends your senses into overdrive. Coffee Milk Stout delivers an average ABV of 5%.
This English-Style Milk Stout was originally a limited-edition offering at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, the perfect foil for Ryan Bros Coffee Beans from San Diego. The addition of Milk sugar lends a touch of sweetness and creaminess to the smooth, easy-drinking mouthful. The sweetness beautifully balances out the bitterness of the coffee while gently enhancing the prominent malt qualities. The finish on this Stout is rewarding and memorable and leaves you licking your lips and wanting more.
Coffee Milk Stout is an ideal after-dinner beer and pairs well with home-baked desserts and tarts.
Pros and Cons of Portsmouth Brewery
- Gorgeous Tap Room
- Impressive Selection of Quality and Authentic Craft Beers
- Numerous Tasty Vegan and Vegetarian Options
- Excellent Service and Super Friendly Staff
- Fantastic Location
- Trendy Merchandise Store
- Slightly Expensive but Well-Worth It
Earth Eagle Brewing
Earth Eagle Brewing opened in Portsmouth in 2012. There is plenty of outside seating, including a large beer garden that welcomes leashed pets. The décor is warm and inviting, with various splashes of color.
There is a wide selection of beers on tap, including ice-cold cans, cocktails, and wine.
Earth Eagle Brewing does not require reservations, and there is also a good menu with burgers, a hot dog menu, hot pretzels, and numerous other options.
Earth Eagle Brewing also hosts several events, including an annual sausage fest in September. It is a spectacular festival and not to be missed, offering plenty of outstanding beer, tasty street food, and great music.
What I like most about this brewery is the outstanding food. It is simple, good old American comfort food made with oodles of love and the freshest homebrewing ingredients. Add a couple of cold beers to the mix, and I know you will be back for more.
What Is on Tap?
Armadillo Danger is a delightful American Single Hop Pale Ale featuring the highly-prized Amarillo Hop. This Pale Ale is full-flavored and refreshing, delivering bold tastes and aromas of orange and freshly grated citrus zest. Subtle undertones of fresh apple accompany you along a refreshing and satisfying finish. Armadillo Danger Single Hop Pale Ale delivers an ABV of 5.6%.
Armadillo Danger is the perfect after-work beer and a great way to de-stress and wind down. It pairs well with pub grub and bar food like sticky buffalo wings and sliders.
Birds from Mars
Birds from Mars is an outrageous IPA-Style beer, bursting with bold notes of exotic tropical fruits. Brewed with a dangerous combination of Mosaic, Simcoe, and Zythos hop, this IPA offers fresh tastes and aromas of grapefruit, citrus zest, and resinous pine. Initially, it is sweet, with a smooth oatmeal base and a soft mouth feel. The finish is moderately bitter and thirst-quenching, with a hint of fresh citrus. Birds from Mars IPA delivers an average ABV of 5.1%.
Birds from Mars is a borderline session IPA and is refreshing during the day and at night. It pairs well with pizza and pasta and goes down well as an after-dinner beer.
Piscataqua is a classic light and refreshing American Lager, featuring the finest quality barley, hops, and corn. It pours yellow-amber and looks inviting in a glass. The flavor profile is unique and complex, delivering delicate tastes of floral, biscuit, and baked bread. The finish is silky smooth and rewarding, with a trace of mild hop bitterness. Piscataque offers an ABV of 4.2%.
I enjoy a cold Piscataqua around the barbeque and while watching sport with my mates. It is a fun beer, and the low ABV allows me to slightly over-indulge.
Pros and Cons of Earth Eagle Brewing
- Laid Back Atmosphere with Loads of Entertainment
- Exceptional Beer and Outstanding Food
- Comprehensive Beer Menu with Ten Varieties on Tap
- Cozy Outdoor Seating Features Fire-Pits and Blankets in Winter
- World-Class Service and Welcoming Staff
- Excellent Facilities
- Parking is Limited in Peak Times
- Indoor Seating is Limited in Peak Times. Best to Phone Ahead and Reserve a Table
Great Rhythm Brewing Co.
Great Rhythm Brewing Co. is an independent craft brewery immersed in coastal tradition. The brewery strives to become self-sustaining and dedicated to helping its beloved community. With a traditional and modern approach, this brewery has so much to offer and is one of the finest breweries I have visited. The atmosphere is welcoming, laid back, and tranquil, and the beers are remarkable. Great Rhythm Brewing Co is a great place to spend the afternoon with your family.
Great Rhythm Brewing Co. features classic lagers, sour ales, ales, and many more beers in addition to its distinctive squeeze and tropical haze. There is an authentic tasting room, and cans and kegs are available for pickup.
Great Rhythm Brewing Co. also sells its products, including trucker hats, glasses, t-shirts, and hats. All are available from a beautiful merchandise store catering to all ages, shapes, and sizes.
I adore the outdoor seating area at the Great Rhythm Brewery. Immersed in nature and overlooking a glorious pond, it is a great brewery to chill out and de-stress.
What Is on Tap?
Perpetual Grüven is a remarkable Kolsch-style creation and, in my opinion, their signature beer. Expertly crafted and perfectly balanced, it is expressive of rich caramel and gentle hop characteristics. What intrigued me about this beer is the unexpected finish, which is dominated by hop flavors and bitterness, with a hint of fresh clove. It is clean, fresh, and very drinkable. Perpetual Grüven delivers an ABV of 4.6%.
Perpetual Grüven is a fantastic beer for business lunches and celebrations. It is classy and not your typical everyday beer.
Haulin Oats is a delicious and easy-drinking Stout, delivering a smooth and chewy mouthfeel with a long, smooth, and rewarding finish. Haulin Oats pours black and thin with a medium soft white head. Upfront, you encounter roasted malts and bittersweet cocoa, followed by soft undertones of a light roast and toasted barley. Haulin Oats Stout is lactose-free and delivers an average ABV of 5.2%.
Haulin Oats is a sublime Oat Stout and an excellent after-dinner beer and pairs well with home-baked desserts and tartlets.
Citrillia is a magnificent Double/Imperial Hazy IPA loaded with fruity tastes and aromas, perfectly balanced by a ludicrous amount of fresh hops. Citrillia gives off excellent aromas causing you to pause and appreciate it before your first sip. It pours a rich opaque yellow with a small head and is delightfully hazy from the intense dry-hopping process.
Flavors of grapefruit and citrus zest dominate this IPA, followed by a bitter and refreshing finish. Citrillia is robust, full-flavored, and offers an impressive ABV of 8.0%.
Citrillia is a glorious Imperial IPA and goes down well on a hot summer afternoon, the ABV is slightly high, so I can only manage one or two before moving on to something lighter.
Pros and Cons of Great Rhythm Brewing Co.
- Authentic Premium Beers and Beer Styles
- Excellent Location with a peaceful and Tranquil Atmosphere
- Spacious Outdoor Seating Overlooking North Mill Pond
- Excellent Customer Service
- Gorgeous Interior Decor with both Traditional and Modern Touches
- Easily Accessible
- Limited Parking
Tributary Brewing Company
The Tributary Brewing Company is the life-long dream of master brewer Todd Mott and is supported wholeheartedly by his wife and the local community. The brewery opened its doors in September 2014, and the rest, as they say, is history. Todd Mott is a brewing legend in the United States, perfecting his craft at various world-class breweries for over two decades. Todd is responsible for famous creations such as Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout (Portsmouth Brewery) and the celebrated Harpoon IPA.
The Tributary Brewing Company is rustic, soulful, family-oriented, and inspired by nature. No frills, no fuss, just good people and exceptional hand-crafted beer. The staff are super friendly and go out of their way to make patrons feel welcome and comfortable. Live music and a long lineup of quality musicians ensure the atmosphere is always festive, and best of all, the brewery is pet friendly. There is no food on offer, but customers are encouraged to bring their picnic baskets and snacks.
The Tributary Brewery features the finest local and imported ingredients, including high-quality water from the Piscataqua river. It is famed for producing authentic, full-bodied, and well-balanced beers, and its bold India Pale Ales and Seasonal Pumpkin Ales are up there with the best.
The Tributary Brewery Company produces exceptional beers, but the soulful atmosphere and quality live music is what I like most about this brewery.
What Is on Tap?
Mott the Lesser
Mott the Lesser is an outrageous Russian Imperial Stout. After a two-year hiatus, it is back in the brew room and available for you to sample. It is medium-bodied and pours dark brown, with medium carbonation and a medium cream-colored head. Mott the Lesser delivers intense tastes and aromas of rich malt, toffee, and sweet chocolate. The finish is silky smooth and satisfying. Mott the Lesser offers an impressive ABV of 10.5%.
Mott the Lesser is a delightful Russian Imperial Stout. It fairs well as an after-work beer and pairs with home-baked desserts and Belgian chocolate, an ideal Stout for a chilly winter’s evening in front of the fire.
Red Head Lager
Red Head Lager is a crisp, dry, refreshing Red Ale or American Amber Ale. It is expertly lagered, resulting in an exceptionally fresh and refreshing beer. Red Head Lager is easy to drink and goes down like cooldrink on a hot sticky afternoon. It pours dark brown, slightly darker than traditional Lagers, with light carbonation and a small white head.
Red Head Lager delivers sweet fruity notes with rich malt and yeast tastes and aromas.
The finish is crisp and clean, with a healthy dose of hop bitterness. Red Head Lager offers an ABV of 5.8%.
Red Head Lager is refreshing and thirst-quenching, an ideal beer for hot summer days. It goes down well, is easy to drink, and pairs well with most foods.
Mocha Milk Stout
Mocha Milk is a decadent Stout-style beer, rich with sweet and creamy tastes and aromas.
It features lactose and premium roasted malts in the brewing process, resulting in a dark pour with little carbonation and a tiny cream head.
Mocha Milk Stout imparts glorious notes of rich malts, freshly ground coffee, and a hint of creamy toffee. The finish is smooth, refreshing, and memorable. Mocha Milk Stout offers an ABV of 5.8%.
Mocha Milk Stout is smooth and delicious and an ideal after-dinner beer. It pairs well with desserts and baked goods but can pair with braised and grilled meats.
Pros and Cons of Tributary Brewing Co.
- Authentic, soulful, and Rustic Brewery
- Spacious and Comfortable
- Comprehensive Selection of World-Class Beers
- Festive Atmosphere with Good People, Live Music, and Talented Artists
- Family Oriented and Pet Friendly
- Friendly and Efficient Staff
- No Food on Offer, but Customers are Encouraged to Bring Their Own
Liars Bench Beer Co.
Liars Bench Beer Company is a self-owned and operated nano brewery featuring a lovely taproom and outdoor Biergarten (beer garden). Dane Neilson and Dagan Migirditch, college roommates, present an ever-changing collection of carefully made, classically influenced ales and lagers. The beers from Liars Bench Brewing Co. are fresh and flavorful.
Liars Bench Beer Co. features a friendly ambiance and communal tables where patrons are encouraged to share their experiences and listen to those of others. Snacks are also available to pair with your beer of choice. A small and cozy place ideal for recovering from a long flight or long day at work.
I love the simple old fashioned appearance of this brewery. It is simple, rustic, and authentic, with no formalities. I particularly like the idea of communal tables, which encourages conversation and a laid-back atmosphere.
What Is on Tap?
No Dice is a unique German Pilsner Draft that pours a soft yellow straw color with medium carbonation and a small white head. It appears tantalizing in a glass and offers a simple flavor profile that ticks all the boxes of a traditional German Pilsner. The first sip reveals delicate tastes and aromas of creamy malt, floral, and earthy grass. It is perfectly balanced by mild hop characteristics, followed by a mildly bitter, refreshing, and rewarding finish. No Dice German Pilsner delivers an ABV of 5.3%.
No Dice German Pilsner is refreshing, thirst-quenching, and best enjoyed fresh in the taproom. A perfect beer to enjoy at the bar while relaxing and catching up with old friends.
Draught Horse is refreshing and easy to drink, a fine example of a quality Belgian Pale Ale. It is impeccably brewed with a healthy amount of malts, resulting in a rich and creamy flavor profile. Subtle notes of spicy hops shine through on the thirst-quenching and rewarding finish. Draught Horse offers an ABV of 5.5%.
Draught Horse is an excellent beer to enjoy on the beach or while lazing around the pool on a warm afternoon.
Young Upstart is a premium American IPA-style beer, boasting the perfect balance between sweet and bitter. The aroma of leathery rye is brought to life by the fruity flavors of apricot, rye, and resinous pine. The finish exhibits fresh hop characters delivering a moderate hop bitterness and undertones of citrus zest. Young Upstart American IPA offers a healthy ABV of 6.6%.
Young Upstart pairs well with Mediterranean-style chicken and fish, the ABV is only 6.6%, but it packs a punch. An excellent beer to enjoy with dinner.
Pros and Cons of Liars Bench Beer Co.
- Outstanding Craft Brewery
- Exceptional Beer
- Great Food
- Family and Local Atmosphere
- Excellent Facilities
- Lovely Outdoor Beer Garden
- Ample Parking
- An Ideal Location for Parties or Celebrations
- Not Much Merchandise Available
- Quality Food but a Limited Menu
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question:What is the most popular beer in Portsmouth (NH)
Answer: Royal Impy Stout by Portsmouth Brewery is the most popular beer in Portsmouth. A fine example of a Russian Imperial Stout, Royal Impy was once voted the fifth best beer in the United States.
Question:What is the most famous beer in Portsmouth?
Answer: Kate the Great is an exemplary Russian Imperial Stout produced by the Portsmouth Brewery. The Portsmouth Brewery Russian Imperial Stout is undoubtedly the most famous in the area, and many believe it is the best and most sought-after beer in America.
Question:Who is the oldest craft brewery in Portsmouth (NH)
Answer: The Portsmouth Brewery is the original craft brewery in New Hampshire and has been serving outstanding handcrafted beers and fabulous food since 1991. In addition to the comprehensive menus, the brewery is notorious for excellent service and a lively atmosphere.
Conclusion: Best Breweries in Portsmouth (NH)
Portsmouth is a vibrant city in New Hampshire and is particularly well-known for its traditional and authentic breweries, which produce an assortment of beers in various unique styles. Portsmouth Beer is highly respected and consumed across the globe. Locals are spoilt for choice in Portsmouth, with the city housing a selection of exceptional breweries producing world-class beers.
Great Rhythm Brewery is my Top Pick for the Best Brewery in Portsmouth because it extends the tranquil and laid-back environment that I am drawn to, offering a magnificent view of the North Mill Pond, outstanding beer, and soulful music. The staff is friendly and efficient, giving you a family feel you might get from your local watering hole.
There is a delightful pizza establishment nearby if you want to grab some food while you wait for the next round, and the beer they make is one-of-a-kind and well worth the trip.
Continue reading the following breweries guides if you are visiting: