Today we learned that famed local brewer, Tod Mott, has decided to leave the Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in order to start his own brewery in Southern Maine. Apparently, Mr. Mott will retain the rights to his Kate the Great beer, a world famous Russian Imperial Stout that is a frequent visitor on the top ten list at Beer Advocate, and the focus of an extravaganza that occurs every March on Market Street in downtown Portsmouth. “Kate” as it is affectionately known to beer geeks like me, currently comes in at number seventeen on the Beer Advocate list. Losing the Kate Day will be a huge loss for Portsmouth, along with the loss of the friendly bearded brewer Mott, who has become a Portsmouth icon.
At the same time, the much anticipated opening of the Thirsty Moose Tap House, located just around the corner from PB on Congress Street, appears to be here. The owners announced today on their Facebook page that their liquor license was approved and they will open tomorrow. The Thirsty Moose is offering a high volume beer selection that is unlike anything in the immediate area. Their initial tap list includes some American dinosaur staples like Bud Light and Coors Light along with some popular local microbrews from Allagash, Red Hook, Shipyard, and Smuttynose. To attract high brow geeks like me, they are bringing in some premium national brands too. Green Flash, North Coast, and Oskar Blues will also be represented on the initial list and I am told that list will grow as far as our New Hampshire distribution limitations allow.
Today, Portsmouth is experiencing the agony and the ecstasy of the beer revolution.
Seacoast beer aficionados already know this quite well, but it is less well know to the casual observer, that our beer tastes have received quite a boost on the Seacoast during the past year. A great new Mecca for beer snobs called the Black Birch opened recently just across the river in Kittery Foreside. Boasting one of the best tap lists in the Northeast and perhaps on the East Coast, and fine bistro dining to boot, the Black Birch is a must stop for any beer lover who finds his way to the Seacoast or is lucky enough to live here. On any given day, the Black Birch serves up four or five great Belgian ales and fresh offerings from the best national and regional microbreweries – all to the sounds of vintage music on vinyl. The proprietors Ben, Gavin, and Jake are great guys too, and they have managed to create a terrific little comfy bistro with amazing beer only a stone’s throw away in Kittery, Maine.
Beer life has already been improving steadily in Portsmouth as the Blue Mermaid Restaurant, The Portsmouth Gaslight Restaurant, and the Press Room have each significantly upgraded their beer offerings during the two and one half years I have been living in Portsmouth. If they did it for me I wish to thank them. More likely, they are responding to an improving freedom-centered beer environment in New Hampshire and increased demand for great beer. If you stop by the Blue Mermaid, The Gaslight, or the Press Room today you will always have several premium big beer selections available on either draft or in bottle.
Beer life is indeed getting better in Portsmouth.
Tod Mott’s departure will certainly shake things up at the Portsmouth Brewery and the Thirsty Moose will do its best to help us mourn that loss with its grand opening to distract us, while the beer options continue to improve elsewhere in Portsmouth. These changes are part of the ever-evolving amazing restaurant scene in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is fast becoming a great beer place to visit. Living here is great too.
I normally write about independent politics. I hope you enjoyed this little diversion into one of my other passions – the culture of beer.
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