56 Market St
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Visited on May 16, 2016
Mark this down as the second brewery I’ve ever visited in a town called Portsmouth. The first was in a tiny town on the north bank of the Ohio River during a job interview way back in graduate school roughly eight years ago. Sufficed to say, I expected more out of the version in a cute little New Hampshire downtown.
Portsmouth Brewery reminds me of many such establishments I’ve visited in historic downtown areas. A few that quickly come to mind include Grizzly Peak in Ann Arbor, Front Street in Wilmington, and Court Avenue in Des Moine. A long, thin, brick room greets you at the entrance with a bar taking up one side and numerous tables and booths flowing down the other.The lighting and decor all seem to be updated and yet retain their historic feel. A side room splits off, filled with more tables but less character.
Unlike many of the breweries I’ve been to recently, this edition actually serves food. This seems to be a fading segment of the industry, especially with the rise of their natural ally, the Food Truck. But true to form of a typical historic downtown eatery, the menu is expansive and focuses on American fare.
Being on the coast, I opt for the fish and chips. Being on the coast, my wife opts for the mussels. As usual, she wins the round of ordering. The fried fish is ginormous and thus, to me at least, the ratio of friedness to fishness is all off. The mussels are expertly cooked and a tasty curry sauce perfect for dipping french fries.
As for the beer, I fear it also falls within the typical American brewpub. Lots of styles to choose from, with nothing making you cringe, but nothing sticking out in your memory as well. We went through two flights to get through all of their options, and did eventually settled on a couple of pints to sip on — double IPAs for both of us, as it was the one with the most flavor, shock and surprise.
Being seated in aforementioned side room, the service was a bit on the slow side and it took us forever to get drink and cash out. But all in all, it’s a solid little spot, and worth your time if you live in the area. I wouldn’t seek it out on a trip, though.