The Portsmouth Brewery, Closed after a Catastrophic Flood, Will not Reopen

Photo courtesy The Portsmouth Brewery

Peter Egelston and Joanne Francis, owners of The Portsmouth Brewery, have made the difficult decision to not rebuild and reopen their iconic downtown brewpub, which was heavily damaged last summer when an upstairs sprinkler main unexpectedly ruptured, flooding the floors below with thousands of gallons of water. Due to the extensive damage, the entire restaurant was gutted down to studs and joists. As a result, reconstruction would have required significant building code upgrades, the cost of which were not fully covered by insurance.

“Our insurance would have paid to return the place to the condition it was in five minutes before the pipe broke, with an additional allowance for code upgrades, but that allowance had a limit, and the upgrades required by the city would have exceeded that,” said Egelston. “Try as we might to find a way around it, at the end of the day, this simple arithmetic forced our hand.”

“Before the flood, Peter and I had already been contemplating the next chapter in our lives and we were exploring the idea of selling our business,” says Joanne. “After all, we’ve been here for 33 years, and we were thinking it might be a good time to hand the place over to new owners. This was not the scenario we envisioned, but it appears the universe had other plans.”

Although Peter and Joanne do not plan to rebuild and reopen The Brewery themselves, they welcome the idea of someone acquiring the business, either as a package with the property, or to reopen it in a new location.

“Entering its 33rd year, The Brewery was going strong right up until a broken water pipe changed everything,” they said. “There’s no reason why it can’t pick right up where it left off.”

The Portsmouth Brewery, founded in 1991 by Peter Egelston and his sister Janet, was New Hampshire’s first craft brewery. Famous for its welcoming atmosphere, award winning beers, and creative menu The Brewery has been a beloved destination for both locals and visitors to the Seacoast for over three decades.

“We always lived by our motto: We Serve All Types. We’ve entertained guests from all over the world, but we took the greatest pride in serving our community,” says Peter. “The Brewery was always a public house in the best sense of the word, where people gathered to meet friends, celebrate special occasions, and even conduct business.”

Since its founding in 1991, over 7.5 million pints of beer have been served at The Brewery. Placed side by side, those glasses would reach from Portsmouth to Washington DC. More than 3,000 people have worked at The Brewery, and millions of guests have passed through its doors. In addition to being the Granite State’s first craft brewing facility, it has led in other ways as well.

During its first five years, The Brewery featured live music in its basement bar, which was remodeled in the mid-nineties as the Jimmy LaPanza Lounge.

“We went smoke-free in 2003, four years before the statewide ban,” says Egelston, “and our menu has always featured a wide range of meatless options.”

The Brewery’s annual release of its award winning Kate the Great Imperial Stout drew thousands of fans from all over the country, and Joanne’s creation, Libeeration Ale, was praised worldwide for its formulation to support menopausal women. The Brewery has also been known for its public events such as the Science Cafes and Mardi Gras Balls, not to mention its notorious staff holiday parties.

The Market Street property that has been home to The Brewery is listed for sale through Duston Leddy Real Estate. It includes 13,389 square feet of living space comprised of street-level and basement commercial space, and five upstairs apartments. Inquiries regarding the property can be directed to Peter Montesanto at Duston Leddy. If the business is not sold, its assets, including furnishings and equipment, will be sold separately. Inquiries pertaining to those should be directed to [email protected]. Special items, including artwork and memorabilia, will be listed for sale on The Brewery’s website in the coming weeks.

Adds Joanne, “A lot of memories have been made at The Brewery. Over the years, people have shared stories about meeting their significant others, celebrating milestones, and wild tales that could fill a book. And while it’s sad to no longer have such a meaningful relationship with our incredible staff and appreciative guests, we’re hopeful our creative and nurturing spirits will find new and different outlets. Cheers to all for the beautiful run we’ve had!”

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