9th Annual Portsmouth Beer Week – from February 24th through March 5th

Portsmouth Beer Week is about, above all else, the love of beer.

We are excited to be celebrating the 9th Annual Portsmouth Beer Week, in just a couple of weeks.   It feels like yesterday, that we were hitting the Portsmouth streets, trying to rally independently owned restaurants to get excited about beer.   [To clarify, there was excitement, but it was limited and not something promoted throughout the city of Portsmouth.]  Portsmouth Beer Week started as the “Craft Beer Long Weekend” with a combined 14 events in the first and second year.

Looking back at the first year, the highlight was a beer, pizza and movie night feature @ the Portsmouth Gas light.  The featured movie was “Beer Wars” –  the David and Goliath story of battling against the beer conglomerates.  I remember a great feeling in the room, which was filled with laughter, ohhhh and ahhhhh, as we were excited about craft beer.    Almost 10 years later, it would be interesting to see Beer Wars – part 2.  Since then, the craft beer community along with the local/national beer laws have changed dramatically.  The battle 10 years ago is no longer the same.


OK.  Fast forwarding [just in case you’ve been out of the country or living in a cave] here is a quick update about the current craft beer scene.

  • New Breweries have opened, few have closed.  Most are smaller in size.  A bubble bursting was predicted by some grump old men, but that term has gone dark (at the moment).   There have been some closings, but unrelated to the bubble theory.
  • If you haven’t moved recently, most likely you live within 10-15 miles from a brewery.
  • Beer Tourism has become an thing, with guided tours to local breweries, distilleries, and cideries.
  • Almost everyone has a cell phone with a camera  and multiple beer applications.  If you think people are texting, at a bar, most likely they are — or they could be updated their untappd profile.  [Nothing like flexing at the number of unique check-ins.  Sometimes, it can feel like a cyber boxing match — or not.]
  • Craft beer styles have come and gone, but the IPA style has remained strong.  Uniquely, the New England IPA fad is increasing, but ultimately, it’s pretty clear that hops smell and taste great; when used in the right combinations.

So, what’s the deal with Portsmouth Beer Week?  Why February?  Why does it end on a Monday?  Well, there’s a somewhat simple explanation. [Cliff notes version]  Back in the day, two of the craft beer pioneers (the Alstrom Brothers from Beer Advocate) featured a local beer as one of the best beers in the world.  That beer was named “Kate the Great”, which was a special Russian Imperial Stout, brewed by Todd Mott and his team.  The beer was released by Portsmouth Brewery on the first Monday in March and coined the day as “Kate the Great Day”.  For that day [and the weekend preceding], craft beer drinkers would flood Portsmouth NH to get their hands on Kate the Great.  Customers would line up for hours, prior to the Portsmouth Brewery opening @ 11:00 AM.

In the first couple of years, the lines would be long, but manageable.  When bottled, the beer would last a couple of days and then remain on draft for a bit.  As the craft excitement grew, you would be lucky if the bottles lasted until 2:00 and there was beer to be sampled before the night’s close.  The Portsmouth Brewery put a ton of time and effort into the release year after year — with a major focus on donating to charity.   Not only was it a great beer, but it was a great way to support the community.

As the excitement grew, so did Portsmouth Beer Week.  We are proud that the 3 day event has grown to 10 days and celebrated with over 60 events every year.  Most importantly, as Portsmouth’s economy is based on tourism, the activities during Portsmouth Beer Week help sustain the economy.

Who were the locals breweries 9 years ago?  (Hummmm…. hope that I don’t miss anyone).  Portsmouth Brewery, Redhook and Smuttynose were within the 20 mile radius of Portsmouth NH.  Now…. you can’t throw a rock without hitting:  Earth Eagle, Liar’s Bench, Great Rhythm, Loaded Questions (coming soon),  Throwback, Beara Irish, Four Pines, Neighborhood Brewing, 7th Settlement, Garrison City, North Country Hard Cider, Decidious, and Bad Lab, in NH and in Maine — Tributary. Woodland Farms, Some Brewing — and in MA Brewery Silvaticus, BareWolf, Newburyport Brewing, Riverwalk.   All within a stone’s throw of Portsmouth, NH.  It’s crazy!

What is going on this year?

  • Portsmouth Beer Week kicks off on Saturday February 24th, with the Seacoast Winter Brewfest @ the Portsmouth Gas Light.   Pre-week celebrations will return to WHYM on Friday February 23rd.
  • After a 1 year hiatus, the Beer and a Movie night is back.  This year’s event will take place at the Portsmouth Book and Bar.  [Unique spot in town, featuring good books and good beer.]
  • IPA night is on Wednesday this year, hosted by Row 34.  One of the dankest events of the week is returning, but switching from Tuesday to Wednesday.
  • Many popular events are returning, including Rare Beer Night @ Thirsty Moose, Sour Sunday @ Thirsty Moose, Funky Friday@ Earth Eagle Brewings, and the Throwback Chocolate, Cheese and Beer pairing.  These are awesome events.
  • There are also some food specials, beer dinners and local beer bus “Granite State Growler Tours” hangover tour.

It’s heard to list them all, so please check out http://portsmouthbeerweek.com/calendar-of-events/ for a full listing.

Since the start of Portsmouth Beer Week, there has been an explosion in craft breweries and restaurants that focus their business around craft beer.   It’s an awesome time to be a craft beer drinker — you can choose your own adventure and the options are endless.

We hope that you can join us this year!



Drink Craft Beer, You’ve Earned It!

p.s.  Visit http://www.PortsmouthBeerWeek.com and stay in touch by following @PortsBeerWeek, #PBW2018 #PBW18 and #NHBeer on twitter.

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