TAPPING PORTSMOUTH: How the Brewing Industry Shaped the City

Strawbery Banke Museum’s 2013 exhibit “Tapping Portsmouth: How the Brewing Industry Shaped the City offered a “pub crawl through 300 years of history” as brewers and tavern keepers kept “something brewing” in Portsmouth. Brewing helped shape Portsmouth’s history from the beginning, when beer and hard cider were the healthier alternative to water and European settlers frequented four taverns in nearby New Castle and three more in Portsmouth. During the American Revolution, Pitt and Stoodley’s taverns (both now part of Strawbery Banke) rang with the impassioned voices of loyalists and patriots, including Paul Revere. In the 19th century, thanks to entrepreneur Frank Jones, Portsmouth became synonymous with beer, delivering the nation’s largest output of beer (100,000 gallons per year) across the country. The Frank Jones empire helped shape the seacoast’s hospitality by drawing guests to Wentworth By the Sea and The Rockingham hotels; while other brewers followed suit.

With major breweries and brewpubs helping to put Portsmouth on New Hampshire’s Beer Tour map, the city is a favorite stop for thirsty travelers and both micro brewmasters and home brewers. The gardens of Strawbery Banke provide constant inspiration and ingredients for the mash. Smuttynose Brewing Co., Redhook Brewery, The Portsmouth Brewery, Earth Eagle Brewings and A&G Homebrew Supply, along with Kennebunk Savings Bank helped fund the exhibit and hosted collaborative beer tastings in Pitt Tavern and discussed beer and brewing techniques through history.