Pints of Portsmouth Is Your New Designated Driver to Seacoast Breweries
From Portland, Maine, to Burlington, Vt., to Western Massachusetts, New England has several buzzing beer scenes for adventurous drinkers to explore. But given the nature of the excursion—to try as many new beers as possible—the weekend trips can add up fast, between Uber receipts and an Airbnb rentals. That is, unless you have a sober friend willing to cart you around. Enter the brew tour bus. Companies like New England Brewery Tours, City Brew Tours, Maine Brew Bus, and others have launched in recent years to solve the problem of finding a willing designated driver.
This spring, Pints of Portsmouth hits the road. The upstart gives Boston-area beer fans a convenient option for visiting the burgeoning brewery scene along New Hampshire’s Seacoast, with monthly trips leaving from Assembly Row.
Allo Gilinsky launched Pints of Portsmouth after he took a day trip to the city last year and discovered the Seacoast’s sudsy bounty. “It was more immense than I thought it was,” he says.
A hospitality industry veteran and California native, Galinsky was previously a guide for North Bay Brew Tours in the San Francisco area. He now lives in Boston. Granite State Growler Tours is already helping thirsty New Hampshirites sip the Seacoast, but Galinsky wanted to share it with people like himself.
“It’s a Boston-based company bridging the gap between the Portsmouth beer scene,” he says. “Who wants to drive up and hit these places, and then have to drive home at the end of the day?”
Pints of Portsmouth has given a handful of tours so far this year. Its four initial partners are Smuttynose Brewing Company in Hampton, Earth Eagle Brewings and Beara Irish Brewing Co. in Portsmouth, and Throwback Brewery in North Hampton.
“I curated this list with what piqued my interest and to make a cohesive tour, because they all have a tie-in with local agriculture,” Gilinsky says.”The way I’ve curated my route is that you’re not spending more than 10 or 15 minutes on the bus, once you’re [up in New Hampshire].”
But there’s room to grow: Deciduous Brewing, Garrison City Beerworks, Portsmouth Brewery, and others are within a half hour’s drive, he says. “Right now, my focus is building relationships with the breweries I’ve contacted first.”
Pints of Portsmouth begins the day with a formal brewery tour and sampling session at Smuttynose, an old guard New Hampshire brewery that moved into a new, LEED-certified facility in 2014, its 20th year. Next, they stop at Earth Eagle in downtown Portsmouth, where they learn about the funky brewery’s focus on gruit ales, made with herbs rather than hops, and the company’s foraging practices. The tour includes lunch at this spot, too. Beara Irish Brewing’s taproom in an unassuming strip mall is the next stop, which hosts live, Irish music on weekends. To end the day, Throwback Brewery’s owners talk with the group about their ingredients, which they take care to source from within 200 miles of North Hampton.
Each visit is about an hour long, and Gilinsky curates three or four samples of each brewery’s specialties for his guests. Pints of Portsmouth’s rented passenger van leaves Somerville by 10 a.m., and it returns by 5:30 p.m. On board, the guide provides water and snacks to help sustain the marathon day of drinking.
“You’re going to be getting a good buzz on,” Gilinsky says. But it’s not a pub crawl, he says. “It’s an educational and social experienced for people. You’re learning about beer, and sharing your enjoyment of beer.”
Pints of Portsmouth is currently booking tours by request, with seats available for May 1, May 15, and June 5 excursions. Gilinsky plans to offer regular tours on Saturdays and Sundays this summer. The inclusive day trip is $110 per person.