Portsmouth Brewery

Portsmouth BreweryPortsmouth Brewery

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

56 Market St
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 03801-3705
United States

(603) 431-1115 | map

The Portsmouth Brewery will typically have 6-7 of their own biers on tap, plus usually 3 from their sister brewery, Smuttynose. They may also have a guest tap on, which has seen Moat Mountain and Sierra Nevada as recent "guests". Growlers cost $4.00 for the glassware, then $10 to $18 for the actual brew, depending on the style. Be advised, they don't usually growler any of their stouts. Also available in the pub are 22oz bottles of Smuttynose Big Beers, plus their "Brewers Cellar" offerings, with items such as Chimay and Ommegang. The adjacent store sells a wide array of high-quality clothing, as well as 22oz "bombers" of Portsmouth bier, ranging in cost from $5 to $10.

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Reviews: 198 | Ratings: 350
Photo of PopeJonPaul
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

"So, since we're in Haverhill, we might was well go up to Portsmouth and check out the brewery."

Thus we end up at stop no. 3 on Slander's whirlwind brewery tour, and it was worth the trip. Portsmouth looks like a nice New England weekend town for the summer tourist season, and the brewery is located right in the middle of the quaint old downtown area. This place was busier than Kobe Bryant's legal team, and we had to squeeze into the back corner until a gracious couple at the bar gave up their stools. Small outdoor atrium (which was closed,) octagonal skylight (which was odd,) 3-D wall art (which was probably made by an ex-Tower Records employee.) This place had an impressive selection: nine or ten of their brews on tap, two Smutty's and a guest beer (Old Foghorn.) I had the Scotch Ale, which was outstanding, and the Black Cat Stout, which smelled like a Starbuck's mocha (didn't taste like it but was pretty good.) Service was ok, the waitress that first helped us and the bartender were both good, but the hostess had people skills on par with Mr. T. Looks like they need a larger staff, there were empty tables in back but they couldn't seat people fast enough. The appetizers were good (can't really rate a place on appetizers alone though) but we didn't have time for dinner anyway as, well, 2 pints and it was time to run off to...

Wait, this time I had to make Slander wait outside while I grabbed a growler of the Scotch ale. Damn that was good.

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Photo of Truh
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I had to visit this one by myself on 4/11/2004 – Kumar and Jim had a prior engagement, namely, Fenway Franks and whatever swill the Aramark vendors were whoring to the Nation.

I’ve actually visited the Portsmouth Brewery on countless occasions, and have fond memories of a snowy February afternoon which morphed into evening as I downed countless Black Cat Stouts and waited for a compatriot to slog his way up Congress St. to join me after work. The stouts had worked their magic and I hardly recognized him as he walked through the door.

The décor of the Portsmouth Brewery is largely non-existent. The simple run-down is exposed brick walls, pounded sheet metal ceiling with filigree, and the brewing equipment in the far back corner behind some glass. The bar area is on a raised platform to the right of the entryway. The bar itself, which seats about twelve, was of a warm wood but had a lip that could pose problematic during a serious session. Above the bar to the left is a flat screen and hanging right up above are two paintings of the king and queen of the “Imperial Pint Club” staring down on patrons, almost accusatory, which I didn’t like. The beers use to be listed to the right of the bar but that has been changed up so that it is hanging above and slightly in front of the bar. Poor decision. Anybody sitting at the bar has to lean back and strain his neck to see the selection. Or ask a bartender, but those are precious seconds wasted. There was light techno playing in the background, which was perfectly fine for a Sunday at noon.

Beers on tap this day: the usual suspects (Old Brown Dog, Black Cat Stout, etc.) with an Oatmeal Stout, Maibock, Scotch Ale, Smuttynose’s Shoals Pale Ale, and a guest tap of Anchor’s Old Foghorn, which was pleasant to see. Of course, the Blue Mermaid around the corner has had Bigfoot on tap, so they win the guest tap award, in my opinion. At any rate, I tried the Maibock and found it refreshing. I didn’t get any food this time around, but I’ve never been disappointed by their chili, or the duck breast salad, when it is on the menu. Service has tended to be hit or miss for me, more often than not without a smile, but then again I don’t go to the Brewery for pleasantries, I go for the libations.

Along with the Vermont Pub and Brewery, the now defunct Commonwealth, and maybe Federal Jack’s, this has to be one of the longest running brewpubs in New England, and is well worth the stop. Portsmouth is a great small city (or large town), with the Coat of Arms, the Muddy River Smokehouse, and the Blue Mermaid right around the corner, not to mention Redhook down the road a bit. I’d recommend a crawl that began with a pint and tour at Redhook, parking yourself in Portsmouth with reservations at the Marriott or a mattress at a fellow BA’s place, then hitting the Muddy River in the early afternoon, The Brewery next on your list, and finishing up at the Coat to take in some real local flavor. Sunday morning I’d suggest brunch at Molly Malone’s with a pint of Guinness or Old Thumper.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

2004 - As anyone who lives in the area can attest, the revitalization of downtown Portsmouth began in earnest at the time Portsmouth Brewing came into being. Coincidence? I think not!
The pub has multi-level floor plan that gives the allusion of being larger than it is. Oh heck, maybe it is big. It is always crowded when we go there. Crowded and on the dark side.
There are always at least 10 fresh beers on tap, and always a good seasonal brew to try. I like Portsmouth beers and always pick up some to go. The food is good and plentiful, as pub-fair goes. We have always received prompt and courteous service. Lucky I guess, from what was written previously.

2011 - I returned this fall with my sons and couple of their friends. It was early afternoon and not as crowded as our previous evening visits. The beer-battered Fish & Chips was better than I remembered it. Simply the best around this old seaport town! We sampled quite a few lovely ales. The Pumpkin and Rye beer were really outstanding.

Portsmouth Brewery should be on every New Englander's "Must Visit" list.

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Photo of tommy78
3.4/5  rDev -19.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

The Portsmouth Brewery is one of my favorite spots in all of New Hampshire. The brewery carries an impressive line of brews and food. Brews such as the Oatmeal Stout, Murphy's Law Red Ale, and the India Pale Ale are excellent picks. The only draw back is that they tend to be hit-or-miss; the only constant has been the India Pale Ale. As for the food, the pizzas are very good. I highly recommend the Route 66 pizza, and the nomar garciapizza pizza. Having the India Pale Ale compliments these two pizzas.

However, if there's one thing I dislike about the Portsmouth Brewery, it is their service. The servers tend to be rude, unappreciative, or downright bad. I once asked the server for the India Pale Ale, and he brought me the I Do Ale. Another time, my girlfriend took a sip of her drink and it turned out to be the wrong one. She asked the server to return it for the correct drink, and she refused. Unfortunately, we had to ask the manager to step in, and he did. Aside from those two specific moments, our time at the Portsmouth Brewery has been good.

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Photo of WesWes
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

This place is located in downtown Portsmouth, NH. It must be a popular spot, because I could barely find a spot to stand let alone eat. It was split into two floors. The top floor was for the 30+ drinker. It was a typical rest/sports bar. The tables were placed around the perimeter while the bar stretched the entire eastern half of the bar. The bottom floor was for the 21-30 year old drinker. It was more of a lounge with a pool table and shuffle board.

The service was quite good considering the fact that it was slammin' busy the entire time. There was a second bar below that served the runoff business. The selection was good. If you are a fan of Smuttynose beers, you're in. This is the sister brewpub.

The atmosphere was great. My friends and I had a great time not only enjoying the beer and food, which was really good, but also hanging with the local crew. This was a really cool place to go. I'll be back.

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Photo of charlesw
2.88/5  rDev -31.6%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 2

The main part of the brewpub (where I ate) is tall and long. At 5pm on a Saturday night it was also extremely loud (the acoustics could use some work). The tables appeared full yet there was no wait and we were led to a booth as soon as the hostess bothered to notice us (this took a minute).

There is a largish selection of their own brews up on the big board (~ten beers) in plenty of different styles. All brews sampled were just fine, thank you!

The menu seems reasonably varied and mostly avoids standard pub fare. Sure, you do have fish and chips, but you've also got a pepper steak. The specials sounded really good and so we ordered them...

A cup of soup is pretty small, but tasted ok. The fries of the cheese fries were soggy and the cheese gooey. The romaine in the caesar was wilted and the salad was WAY overdressed. The tuna (one of the specials) wasn't what we'd expected from the description given by the waitress - it was very lightly seared (as stated) but was covered with a sour relish that (unfortunately) penetrated into the fish giving it an unpleasant flavor. In addition, the tuna steak was poorly cut and fully 1/3 of the portion was entirely inedible (we were unable to cut through the gristle/fat of that section and so couldn't even attempt to eat it).

Again, constructive tips might include keeping a closer eye on quality. Establish some standards, write them down, ensure that everyone knows what they are (signs off on them) and then enforce them.

Now, that said, would I go back? Well, my beer was pretty darned good, so maybe I would for that. But I would have to go at a slower time or to a different part of the establishment where the noise was more muted. I would not recommend it as a place to eat! But, heck, I might even eat there again. Next time I'll order my salad with the sauce on the side and something safe - like fish and chips.

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Photo of yosh
4/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I visited this place this past weekend for a few beers. We went to the downstairs portion as upstairs was pretty crowded. The people I was with knew the bartender (even though he wasn't the normal one) so that may have influenced our service a bit.

The atmosphere was great for a brewpub. The bar had a nice clean appearence and was smoke free, which was a plus.

There were 11 beers on tap, nine from the brewery and two brewed across town (Smuttynose). I got a peek into the back where the brewing took place as the door was open part of the time.

The service was excellent at the bar and the bartender had a great personality and was very helpful as needed.

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Photo of Longstaff
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

This place has a great clean, bright atmosphere and I especially liked the multi level seating areas and the raised bar section. All the food we tried was quite tasty especially the mussels steamed in Weizenhiemer. Great Suttynose beers included the Shoals Pale and Lager. I tried Portsmouth's IPA (on nitro?) and was unimpressed, but was impressed by their Imperial Stout - same mouthfeel as Smutty's but just a little more roasted flavor. They had a wide range of food choices and didn't try to be too upscale for a brewpub - just right with some unique appetizers, basic sandwiches, pizza, and solid full meals. Service was decent, although a little rushed, and our waiter could have been a bit more friendlier. Parking garage is just around the corner and only charges 50 cents an hour. I'll be back many, many times.

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Photo of kelticblood
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Although the selection of beers was low I still managed to find two I never had before so I could review them.This was second time visting and eating at the Portsmouth Brewery.Being the same as the Northampton Brewery in Massachusetts there is still many differences such as,the food,and beer served.The atmosphere was kind of quiet with nothing really going on.The service was prompt and friendly.The beer list had a ton of beers of which werent available and dissapointed me.They served on coasters and logo pint glasses which was a plus.Set in downtwon Portsmouth it is a nice stop for lunch after a long day of checking out the area.We sat on the top level looking over the whole downstairs eating area.There is a big window in which you can view the brewing room.A small store which is right next to the brewry offers T-shirts,hats,glasses,and bombers to go home with.I will surely visit this brewery again.

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Photo of ecoboy
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

A pleasing layout greets the Portsmouth Brewery patron: three levels of seating/bellying-up choices. The bar area with glittering glassware and mirrors is to the right. Booths that fit six to the left and downstairs, a really fun niche find that includes, bar, overstuffed chairs and hipster games, including that raised sand shuffleboard game whose name I cannot remember. This is a downtown Portsmouth place, so expect a more downtown vibe than Northern New England might lead to to expect.

One of the more tony aspects is the menu: much more fine dining restaurant than straight pub. I've never had a bad meal there, from delicious home-made zucchini fries with mango chutney to the nomar garciapizza - black beans, roasted garlic, roma tomatoes, caramelized onions, cilantro & mozzarella cheese. Yes. Black beans on a pizza. It works.

Portsmouth brewing has an association with Smuttynose (as well as with Northampton brewing in MA) so they have a real extensive stable of seasonals to lean on. They take a shot at Europe-wide styles. You can read about it on an "everything-we've-ever-brewed" card at each booth. If you do not slap your forehead at least once at a style that is not on tap that day, you haven't had enough beer in your life. Rest assured that the daily on-tap offerings number eight or so. The range certainly suites those who want an all-beer session or are diving into the menu.

Old Brown Dog ale being a long-time flagship brew, it remains one of the few Browns an old hop-head like me will order. Solid, really solid example of the style.

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Photo of Hhawk06
4.43/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Came here with about 20 of my family members. We were kindly moved into a section with a huge round table that would have made King Arthur proud. The beer selection was incredible, as there were about 9-10 beers on tap in every style you would care to drink. All the selections I tried were well crafted and quite good. I enjoyed the atmosphere as well, but that was probably due to the fact that I had 20 of my family members there drinking just as much beer as I did. I had jambalaya for dinner, which was fantastic. The service was also great, attributed to the fact that I always had a full pint in front of me!

Overall, I highly recommend this brewery, especially if you're travelling with a big group of friends!

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Photo of kunzbrew
4/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I really enjoyed this place. It was a midday on a Thursday so it was not really busy, so the bartender was all over me and jebrock. The beer was good and fresh and the food was the same. The brewer was brewing a batch of beer while we were there which made the resturuant smell mighty fine. The high ceilings made it nice with some smoke in the air. This is a great place and I seemed to end up here when I am in town.


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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.22/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I have been going to the Portsmouth Brewery for years. I like it very much, but I tend to avoid Friday and Saturday nights because of the crowds. The atmosphere is pretty good when it is not overly packed, and sitting at the bar is comfortable (more so now that the pub is totally nonsmoking). The quality of the brews is very good, and there is always a good selection on tap. On a recent visit there were 8 beers on tap (which included 2 from Smuttynose), and 1 hard cider.

Most of the floor space is devoted to dining tables, but the bar area does seat quite a few. The bar is wood with bar chairs (with backs). There is one TV near the bar. There is a sky-light over the dining area, and the entire front is glass.

The food is quite good, and is not your typical "bar food".

[re-reviewed 7-7-03]

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Photo of BillyBrew
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

A feather in Portsmouth's hat.

The atmosphere of this spot is a little flashy, but the woodiness and art worked for me. We went around 6 pm on a week night in November, so we missed the tourists, college students and restuarant folks (all of which have been previously poo-pooed upon). In fact, there were very few people at all. The waitstaff was solid, after the shift change anyhow, although well fell victim to 'upselling' (shrimps on a salad). The food was real good with a nice selection for dietary needs. We had a very tastey hummus and baba ganoosh app. and salad (with shrimp) and a great grainy veggieburger. You can get buffalo sauce for your fries too, word up. There must have been about 30 brews on the menu, although most were seasonal, limited and occasional. There were, however, eight brews on tap, including apple cider and two Smuttynoses. The beer was solid and interesting.

Well worth a visit while in the greater area. Good food and lots of changing, solid brews. Cheers!

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
3.28/5  rDev -22.1%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

I've gone here for seven years now and have seen the "cheers" syndrome. That is, a good bar destroyed by tourists. The beer, as always, is fantastic. The place itself is overwhelming. You can not even hear yourself think it is so loud. College students and tourists make up the majority of the clientelle. The food is just average, in fact, sub-par for a city like portsmouth. My advice: drink a beer or two here, than walk up the street to the Press Room, The Muddy River Smoke House, or The Rusty Hammer.

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Photo of Alewife
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Wonderful to sit in the very small outdoor area that is available in nice weather and enjoy the good food and great selection of fresh beers. Even when it isn't nice out and you're 'stuck' indoors, this is a great establishment to visit. The food is always good and the choice of beer won't leave you longing for what you are REALLY in the mood for, cause they'll have it!

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Photo of rosebud
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

This brewpub used to be one of my favorite places to go after work. The food is diverse and there's plenty to choose from, no matter what your taste is. Their beer has in the past been some of my favorites, my favorite being the Murphy's Law Red Ale. I don't see the same quality anymore. I don't know if its because they get too big a crowd on the weekends, and they cant let their beer age long enough to support the crowed, all I know is that the same quality is not there.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I wasn't expecting much from Portsmouth but it turned out to be better than I thought. The decor is very basic "brewpub" with some interesting touches. It's comfortable but can get pretty crowded at night. I recommend stopping in for lunch! The menu is basic brewpub foods which appeal to alot of people, and the food is pretty good and reasonably priced. The service has always been a little bit better than the average and the servers were interested in, and knew about the beers! Ask them what they have, and then ask them what they recommend! They'll steer you right. The beers are good, some better than others, but certainly nothing bad. I've enjoyed everything I've had, and really liked a few of them! In addition, it's located on a hip little street with some interesting shops, so if you're just passing through it might make a nice little stop. I give this place a good recommendation and I'll try to stop back in whenever I can.

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Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, NH
3.82 out of 5 based on 3,369 ratings.
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