Portsmouth Brew Tours- The Hat Trick
Happy Monday everyone! Saturday morning my girlfriend and I embarked on one brew tour which magically turned into three. Sounds exhausting to some, but it in the end its another adventure we can talk about. Lisa asked me if I wanted to take the Smuttynose tour and I gladly accepted. Living so close for the past couple years I had yet to get down to Heritage Ave to take the free tour, but today was the day.
We got to Smuttynose and much to my surprise the parking lot was full of thirsty tourists wanting to see the inner workings of the local brew. One of the tour guides was JT who I’d first met at the Haverhill NERAX event and now we seem to bump into eachother all the time. This was the first brew tour I had been on that starts with a beer tastings. I thought this was a cool way to wait around for the tour to start. I started off with an ’07 Imperial Stout which at 11am couldn’t have been a wiser choice :). I have seen a smaller facility than Smuttynose (Switchback) but this is no giant brewery. What’s amazing about this ‘little engine that could’ brewery is that it continues to pump and pump and pump beer out with limited space. In fact they were doing some construction at the time of the tour which they said would add efficiency gains to the brewing process, so there was no brewing going on today. They mentioned that in a couple years they will be fully moved to their newly aquired space in Hampton, NH, which is much bigger. Asking the tough questions, Lisa asked JT what Smuttynose’s most failed beer was. While JT wasn’t about to toss the mothership under the bus, he stated the most intersting beer has to be Hanami, which was kind of a cherry sour beer. It’s definietly a love or hate beer (I was not a fan). Their most successful beer is the IPA and there were a lot of kegs filled with it as we were walking around the brewery. As the tour wrapped up we had a couple more tastings before hitting the road.
On the way out I was propositioned with another brewery tour. “Let’s grab lunch at Redhook, perhaps their tour too?”, Lisa said. I had nohere else to go that day, so what the hell, off to Brewery #2!
We have easily been on the Redhook tour 10+ times so we knew the drill, they start every hour on the hour starting at 12. We grabbed some grub and a beer and waited for the 1pm tour. New to Redhook are their beer blends. I grabbed The Long Shoreman which consisted of their Longhammer IPA and their Blackhook Porter, very good. M’lady got the Single Blonde which was a combo of their Single Barb IPA and their Blonde Ale, tasty as well. Our tour was a large one but that doesn’t stop tour guide Biron (I’m pretty sure that’s how you spell his name) from giving an awesome tour. Being a tour regular (once a month) you can catch the repeat stories but that’s why people come back, because he does the tour spiel so well. We grabbed some tastings and the free glass and were on our way.
We knew what had to be done at this point. Two breweries down and there was one left in the area, the Portsmouth Brewery. I had been in there more times than I can count, but not once have taken the tour. They tour at 3pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tod came out of the brewery to welcome us and took us right into the engine room,as it were, of the Portsmouth Brewery. First things first, Tod Mott is a smart guy. The tour was extremely informational and even though he used a lot of big words, it all made sense! They are limited with space but they crank out a lot of beers and continue to invent new ones. They have a staff of 3, Tod, assistant brewer Tyler and another person only for bottling which I will add is one bottle at a time, so nice job bottle guy!
We stopped in the room that delivers all the beer to the taps and it was a tubing wonderland (see photo gallery). It looked like a call center gone bad but this was all good. To top off the tour Tod showed us his private stock fridge which included a bottle of Dark Lord Imperial Stout and an ’09 bottle of Kate the Great. I had never seen or touched a bottle of Dark Lord so the beer lover in me was all a twitter. I had to get a photo with two of the most top ranked beers in the world. Tod was gracious enough and turn his back and grabbed a bottle of Black Albert Russian Imperial Stout which is the top rated beer in the world, to complete the photo. How cool is that?
In summary, Lisa and I invented a new adventure that you must do in Portsmouth on a Saturday, ‘The Portsmouth Brew Tours’ or ‘The Hat Trick’
- 11am- 12pm- Smuttynose Tour (Free Tour. You get a coupon for a free pint at the Portsmouth Brewery)
- 12pm-1pm- Lunch at Redhook Brewery
- 1pm-2pm Redhook Tour ($1 for the tour, free tasting glass)
- 3pm- Portsmouth Brewery Tour (Free tour, receive a 1/2 off coupon for a sampler at the brewery)
You will have time to grab a pint at the Portsmouth brewery (using the free pint coupon from the Smuttynose tour) before the tour starts. All this totals a whopping $1 (excluding lunch)…are you kidding me? What an awesome Saturday! You can check out all my photos from the tours here or by going to the ‘Drink Here’ section up top and click on Portsmouth Brew Tours.