PORTSMOUTH — The town’s first brewery since perhaps the 1630s selected a most opportune time for its grand opening: St. Patrick’s Day.
However, Matt Gray, one of the partners in Ragged Island Brewing located inside the Portsmouth Business Park off Hedly Street, said it was a mere coincidence that taps started flowing on beer-lovers’ favorite holiday.
Earlier in the week, Ragged Island received the last piece of paperwork it was waiting on — a manufacturer’s license for brewing — from the state’s Department of Business Regulation. At the same time employees were finishing up the taproom, so it was mere happenstance that the annual Irish celebration coincided with opening night.
“It happened to be St. Patrick’s Day because everything lined up that way, but we’d been working toward opening whenever we could,” said Mr. Gray. “It just so happened that we got all of our licenses and permits and the fire inspection got done. That was all of yesterday, so today’s the day.”
The business announced, via its Facebook page Thursday night, that it would have a “soft opening” the next day from 5-8 p.m.. That that was enough to fill the taproom at 200 High Point Ave. (Unit B6) less than 24 hours later.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Mr. Gray said of the number of people who came out. “We see lots of friends and family and we see a lot of unfamiliar faces, which is even better because it means the words getting out there. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more people who we know, and don’t know, coming in to try out our beer.”
Some of those enjoying the suds weren’t even aware of the new venture.
“I didn’t even know this was here,” said Donna Golden.
Ms. Golden ordered a flight of four samplings and said her two favorites were the Ruggles ESB (“extra special bitter) and the Baulston Porter, named after William Baulston, one of the signers of the 1638 Portsmouth Compact and the first tavern owner in town.
There were three other styles available Friday, all double IPAs: Ragged Island’s signature TwoTree and TwoTree Mosaic — brewmaster John Almeida first concocted them years ago in his basement in Maine — and the Indivisible.
The most popular style on opening night?
“Surprisingly for us, we’re seeing a lot of people have the Ruggles ESB, which is a very popular style,” said Mr. Gray. “I love the TwoTree, but we have multiple varieties of IPAs which may be the reason why we’re not seeing any one of them hit the most. The Baulston Porter is a good dessert beer.”
Customers could purchase two 12-ounce pours or, for those who wanted to sample several beers, a flight of four with the option of buying an additional 12-ounce glass.
The brewery was back at it Saturday, pouring suds from 1-4 p.m., and will be open again from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, March 24.
“We might expand a little bit in the taproom with tabletops and things like that as we go forward,” Mr. Gray said. “For now we wanted to keep it as open as we could so, under the fire code, so we could have as many people as possible inside — especially on these cold, bitter end-of-March weeks here.”