An hour north of Boston. An hour south of Portland. New Hampshire’s Seacoast breweries are at the center of a beer culture booming with such force, you can feel the ripple from 60 miles away.
The Granite State is home to many excellent breweries: Henniker Brewing in the West, Moat Mountain in the North, Kettlehead in the center of the state. All over New Hampshire, crisp IPAs, full-bodied stouts, and cheek-squeezing sours flow like the Piscataqua River.
But arguably the top place to go for craft beer in New Hampshire is the Seacoast. Portsmouth, Dover, Newington, and Kittery (a Maine town just a stone’s throw from New Hampshire) all host unique breweries with their own flavor, both literally and aesthetically. Beer lovers can make an entire weekend trip focused entirely on the suds they love.
We did exactly that. Here it is: your definitive guide to drinking beer at Seacoast breweries over 48 hours.
Portsmouth Brewery – 5 p.m.
56 Market St., Portsmouth, N.H.
Coming in at 5? Head straight to Portsmouth. Yeah, it’ll be a pain to find parking, but you couldn’t start in a more appealing city, nor in a better brewpub. Before this rush of craft beer permeated our culture, the Portsmouth Brewery was 20 years ahead of its time. Located right in the heart of downtown Portsmouth, the Brewery serves its house-brewed beer and the brews of its former sister company, Smuttynose Brewing.
The Portsmouth Brewery has fantastic food options and an array of beers that pair with everything on the menu. Enjoy a bitter Smuttynose Finestkind with a fried fish sandwich, mix Old Brown Dog ale with a brewhouse steak, or, when in doubt, have a stout! With the Pots de Creme, of course. Don’t forget to check out the bar downstairs, where patrons can play pool or shuffle board, or simply chill on the couches.
Earth Eagle Brewings – 8 p.m.
165 High St., Portsmouth, N.H.
After you’ve had a chance to digest, walk around Portsmouth’s breathtaking downtown and maybe stop in a pub for another drink along the way. Then head over to Earth Eagle Brewings. Tucked away on one of Portsmouth’s many side streets, Earth Eagle has gone from one of the Seacoast’s best-kept secrets to a skyrocketing success, complete with a patio for al fresco beverages.
In true New Hampshire fashion, Earth Eagle uses many local ingredients. The Engine Joe Coffee Porter includes grounds from a local joint called Old Stone Coffee Co. The New England Gangsta’ (ironically enough, a West Coast IPA) is a treat if you’re lucky enough to order it before it sells out. But make sure you try at least one of their unique sours or gruits.
After that, enjoy Portsmouth’s wonderful nightlife. But remember to pace yourself — tomorrow is big day.
Stoneface Brewing Company – 11 a.m.
436 Shattuck Way, Newington, N.H.
Stoneface Brewing Company is first on the list partly because it’s the first brewery to open on Saturdays. It’s also smart to hit Stoneface and Cisco (see below) early because they are located in or near Newington, right outside of Portsmouth, and Uber is cheap in the morning.
Stoneface carries a variety of drinks ranging from kolsch to weisse to wits, but the IPAs cannot be missed. Whether you try the original, Full Clip, or the Blip, IPA enthusiasts will be in heaven. Both the Double Dry Hopped IPA and Full Clip are particularly exquisite.
Cisco Brewers – 1 p.m.
35 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth, N.H.
Across the highway, Cisco Brewers hosts a number of delicious concoctions. Hailing originally from Nantucket, Cisco offers some beach-area favorites such as the Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, Sankaty Light Lager, and the Grey Lady, a Belgian-style ale infused with spices. Cisco replaced Redhook Brewery in June, but it still carries some of the latter’s finest beers such as the Bicoastal IPA and Long Hammer.
Liar’s Bench Beer Company – 4 p.m.
459 Islington St. #4, Portsmouth, N.H.
Islington Street runs west away from downtown Portsmouth but is a popular spot among locals with coffee shops, burger joints, and yes, beer. Liar’s Bench Beer Company is a delightful hole-in-the-wall that you might drive right past if you’re not looking for it.
Inside, however, is a great place to hang out and try some delicious pilsners and saisons. Liar’s Bench also serves bar food such as chili cheese dogs, hummus with pita, and falafel. They’ve also got a foosball table in case you’ve been sitting at the bar for too long.
Great Rhythm Brewing Company – 6 p.m.
105 Bartlett St., Portsmouth, N.H.
Great Rhythm Brewing Company is hidden from the main roads, but the brewery is massive and offers the best views of any place on this list. Tucked behind the businesses of Islington Street, Great Rhythm takes advantage of its fantastic location with an open-air concept overlooking the calm waters of North Mill Pond — perfect scenery for beer drinking.
The brewery boasts a number of terrific beer options but takes special pride in its IPAs. From the crushable Squeeze to the cloudy Tropical Haze to the fruity Citrillia, the IPAs at Great Rhythm are refreshing and unique for hops lovers. Even the Resonation, which is technically a pale ale, tastes similar to a West Coast IPA.
By 8 p.m., some of the breweries start to close. This is another opportunity to hit some of the great bars in downtown Portsmouth. The vast majority of watering holes carry local beers, as well as beers from around the state, which is a delicious way to give back to the community.
Chapel + Main – 11 a.m.
83 Main St., Dover, N.H.
With one day left, it’s time to explore some towns a bit father outside of Portsmouth. Dover is an up-and-coming beer town less than 15 minutes north of the Port City, but it’s worth driving to because of its college town vibe, walkable streets, and a plethora of restaurants.
Start at Chapel + Main. The brunch options are divine, and if you cheat on the beer tour with a bloody mary or a mimosa, we can’t blame you. But you can’t go wrong with any of the beers here; the Woke Coffee Porter is great for a morning perk, the Vision of Cornelius brings the taste of strong Belgian golden ales, and the Dragon in the Seas delivers the perfect recipe for a classic IPA.
Garrison City Beerworks – 1 p.m.
455 Central Ave., Dover, N.H.
Located right down the street from Chapel + Main, Garrison City Beerworks is nanobrewery with an excellent tasting room and huge windows for people-watching in downtown Dover. Garrison City has continually rotating taps and usually has plenty of cans available for purchase. Our recommendation? Sample everything. Whatever they’ve got on tap, taste it. Even if you’re not much of a gose fan or you’re not particularly fond of IPAs, you won’t regret expanding your palette here.
Deciduous Brewing Company – 3 p.m.
12 Weaver St., Newmarket, N.H.
For the last stop, take a nice drive through some Seacoast towns to make it to Newmarket. Deciduous Brewing Company sits at the top of a large hill right off the main street. The brewery hosts a modern setting with options including Shine and Gleam, two outstanding berliner weisse options; the Won’t Back Down porter; and delicious double IPAs including Life-love and Research 3.0. The beers at Deciduous will leave a lingering taste to make sure travellers don’t forget what the Seacoast has to offer.
MORE SEACOAST BREWERIES
Of course, due to travel and time constraints, we had to leave out some other great breweries in the area. Here’s a quick list of some others worth visiting if you’ve got the time:
Bad Lab Beer Co.
460 High St., Somersworth, N.H.
Beara Irish Brewing Company
2800 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth, N.H.
Loaded Question Brewing Company
909 Islington St. #12, Portsmouth, N.H.
North Country Hard Cider
3 Front St. #160, Rollinsford, N.H .
Smuttynose Brewing Company
105 Towle Farm Road, Hampton, N.H.
SoMe Brewing Company
1 York St. #3, York, Maine
7 Hobbs Road, North Hampton, N.H.
Tributary Brewing Company
10 Shapleigh Road, Kittery, Maine
Woodland Farms Brewery
306 Route 1 C, Kittery, Maine
For a complete roundup of Seacoast breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries, click here.