Tag Archives: Portsmouth

Portsmouth Blues

The very last thing we expected to find while looking for parking in downtown Portsmouth, NH, was a submarine.  But there it sat.  Smack dab in the middle of the grass just to the left of our wrong turn.  It wasn’t on our agenda for the day, but what the hell?  Happening upon unexpected stuff is something we always hope for.  So that is how we ended up on the USS Albacore, a 1950s experimental submarine.  Mostly what we discovered onboard is that neither one of us is cut out for submarine duty.  This thing makes our RV look like the Taj Mahal, only with worse plumbing.  Over the past month we’ve learned to make the most of our holding tanks by conserving water, but when out to sea, sailors on the Albacore were limited to “one shower per week, whether needed or not.”  Whether needed or not?  There were fifty guys crammed into a really tiny space with poor ventilation.  I suppose once everyone’s olfactory nerves are destroyed from the stench, nobody really needs a shower any longer.

After that short detour we eventually found our way to downtown Portsmouth.  This is our kind of city; small enough to be manageable on foot but large enough to have the vibrant pulse a city should.  With it’s smattering of attractive colonial architecture, we could easily envision settling down here, at least for the summer months.  Portsmouth also reportedly has one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per-capita in the country.  I’m doubtful of the distinction, but they do have a lot, which is certainly a plus.  We, of course, chose Portsmouth Brewery for dinner where we had a couple of craft beers that were delish and pulled pork sandwiches that were just ah-right.

The “anchor” of the evening was live blues and jazz music on Pleasant Street performed by T.J. Wheeler & The Smokers.  For eight years now, Pro-Portsmouth, has arranged a free, open air, concert series called “Summer in the Street.”  They stage several concerts over the course of the summer with music ranging from “Texas Swing” to Jazz.

Pull up a chair and enjoy the show (or at least a very short sampling) . . .

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

After the debacle in Boston, Shannon the Wise planned our next brewery stop so that it coincided not only with a tour, but also a buy one case and get the next case for half-off promotion; known in some quarters as four-for-three.  Hooray!

The actual tour of Red Hook’s Portsmouth, NH, brewery was pretty standard fare; really nothing more than a perfunctory review of the beer making process and a quick look at the stainless steel brewing vats.  It’s not exactly the theme park experience you get at the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam, but we didn’t go there for a Six Flags ride.  We went to taste great beer.  And on that front, Red Hook delivered.  On tap was a golden ale, two pale ales (an IPA and an ESB) and a seasonal summer pilsner.  All were terrific.  I expected the ales to be good, but the pilsner surprised me with a little more malt than you usually get from a “summer brew.”  Very tasty.

It was also nice to see Red Hook harkening back to the days when tasting rooms were run to distribute promotional samples rather than as profit centers.  No tightly controlled pours here.  Tour admission costs a single dollar.  And had our guide simply filled our four ounce tasting glasses with each beer, we’d have sampled a full pint.  A pretty good deal.  But he didn’t just fill our glasses, he filled pitchers and let us have at them.

But it got even better for us.  A well-placed question encouraged our pliable tour guide to pour a pitcher of the company’s current “brewer’s selection” beer (available only at the on-site pub); an oatmeal stout.  It wasn’t planned, but it should have been.  After the bitter hoppiness of the two pale ales, the stout hits you in the face with a sweet, chocolate, coffee flavor that goes down like liquid desert.  What a way to finish the tasting.

That was the most fun I’ve had for a dollar since The Doll House in 1989.

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