Bar Review of WHYM Craft Beer Cafe in Portsmouth, NH.
For anyone that is familiar with Portsmouth, NH you already know it’s a really good beer town. When you’re walking around downtown Portsmouth there are several great breweries and beer bars to choose from, so being thirsty isn’t a problem. For most people, that’s where their beer search begins and ends, because the downtown is “where it’s at”, but I’m here to provide you with another option.
The locals may already know this, but travelers heading to Portsmouth most likely don’t, and it’s to their detriment. Roughly 5 miles south of downtown Portsmouth on Route 1 there is a slice of beer heaven called WHYM Craft Beer Cafe. I live in Massachusetts, so I’m always driving up from the south and I go right by this establishment on my way. Some of you may be thinking “I also drive that road on my way to Portsmouth and I’ve never noticed it before”, and that’s because you’re blind. Just kidding, it’s most likely because it’s set back from the road and is actually part of the Wren’s Nest Village Inn property.
Finding a bar with a good craft beer selection isn’t that hard these days, but finding a bar that is centered around and devoted to craft beer definitely is. WHYM is one of those places. Their name is literally and acronym for “Water Hops Yeast Malt”, so I’d say they’re pretty serious about it. The bar itself is a nice melding of old-world European styling with some hipster elements. It feels like a cozy beer bar in Bavaria somewhere, but the background music comes from a record player spinning vintage vinyl records. In fact there are several crates full of records for patrons to peruse and select, which allows them to set the soundtrack for their visit. There is some outdoor seating for when the nicer weather shows itself, and enough seating inside for when it doesn’t. WHYM isn’t big, but it does fit the “cafe” moniker in terms of size/seating, so you should be able to find a table or barstool and nestle in for a while without much difficulty.
Now on to the most important thing, the beer. WHYM offers 10 rotating draughts from a variety of local and nationwide brewers. The selection is diverse, rare and balanced considering there are only 10 options. If you don’t believe me you can look at their current beer list here. Any beer bar that can satisfy the cravings of most craft beer lovers with 10 draughts knows what they’re doing. They also have a small menu of upscale pub food (see menu here) that is excellent and should keep you in your seat a little longer, which is why I always make WHYM my first stop on my way to Portsmouth. It’s an awesome lunch location, and will put you in the right mindset for your long vacation weekend. WHYM can act like a decompression zone, helping to unwind you and set the mood for what’s to come. Petula Clark insisted that “things’ll be great when you’re downtown“, but it turns out things can also be great when you’re not downtown.