The Best Breweries, Brewpubs & Taprooms in Manchester
Of course Manchvegas has a cadre of fine fresh beer brewing folks who can supply you will all of the ales and lagers you desire, it's a New Hampshire city after all and that's what they do.
Written by CraftJack | Updated | 6 min read
Geographically wedged in between Concord and Nashua, Manchester is New Hampshire's largest city by population. Its breweries are spread out all over the the 35 square miles that make it up, with a few being found downtown in the city, and some out on the outskirts, like Backyard Brewery & Kitchen.
Sounds very mythological, as if the very ambrosia they make is sought after by legendary heroes whose last names end in "cles". Open only on Friday and Saturday, this millyard nanobrewery is quickly becoming a must-visit in Manchester. Aigean rolls out a small lineup of intriguing, yet approachable craft brews, moving from Session IPA to English/Belgian hybrid.
Sample the Hexan Krieg With Brett if you're looking to expand your palette.
Backyard is a great spot for pretty much everything. With a large dining room, several outdoor spaces, and a lounge, you'd be hard pressed to not think of a reason to visit. We're biased because we enjoyed them, but the loaded pretzel bites were a great snack for casual day drinking. With 12 Backyard Brewery beers on tap, you and two friends could effectively try everything on tap with a few paddles of 4oz pours. Lawnmower, a Helles that Backyard brews is, well, a good beer for lawnmowin'.
You can even scratch your Keno itch or play a round of pool in the lounge. Backyard Brewery & Kitchen is on our list for future repeat visits.
One of the coolest, unassuming taprooms in Manchester is Candia Road. Located at 840 Candia Road (who saw that coming?), the brewery is open 4 days a week, hosting live music on Sundays. When it comes to food, they serve up a variety of hot dogs, sandwiches, and tacos, you know, essential taproom grub.
Homebrewers are already familiar with Candia Road, having opened as a homebrew shop in 2011. You dabble in the craft arts, swing on down to Candia Road for some supplies.
Located in the back corner of an Industrial Park is Great North Aleworks. After years of homebrewing, Rob & Lisa North opened Great North Aleworks, paying tribute to their Canadian heritage (the Great White North), as well as their last name, with the naming of their brewery.
How good was their homebrewing operation? So good that Rob won the Samuel Adams Patriot Homebrew Competition back in 2010. We can vouch for their Moose Juice IPA.
The Holt Ave taproom also features an outdoor beer garden for post work libations, which is especially convenient if you work off East Industrial Ave. Then again, after work beers are tough when they're only open Thursday through Sunday.
If you're into eponymously named beers, Stark Brewing offers the ManchVegas IPA, a Cascade-hopped 5.4% abv West Coast IPA that will cause you to wonder why New Hampshire's largest city, by far, is not the capital of the Granite State.
SBC loves its puppers, featuring a dog breed on most of their cans. And, presumably for easy marketing, they brew the John Stark Porter (Game of Thrones reference?).
If you visit the taproom, you will be treated to 18 beers on tap, 8 of which are core, year-round brews. The other 10+ rotate in and out as the seasons turn, or, if a brewer puts a new recipe on display. This lineup includes personal fave, the Mt. Uncanoonuc Cream Ale.
Swift Current is perhaps the smallest brewery in ManchVegas. They run a 2bbl system and brew a handful of small batch beers. Other than being owned by Stark Brewing (99% sure), we don't know much more about them. This gives us the perfect excuse to visit sooner than later. When we do, we're going after the 101A IPA.
To Share gets literal with its food menu, as its all shareable plates and small bowls. And in the spirit of sharing, To Share Brewing pairs up with breweries such as Nashua's Martha's Exchange to collab on some brews.
We'll just leave you with this quote from To Share ...
"When you walk in to To Share Brewing Company, the music you are hearing is our massive vinyl record collection. Feel free to make a request or bring your own albums."
Able Ebenezer's Merrimack taproom is the kind of place where you can saddle up to the bar on a lazy Sunday and lose two to three hours chatting over beers in a heartbeat. If you'd prefer to be outdoors, they have a few picnic tables on the flipside of the building for your outdoor enjoyment. While it can't promise the grand view of Mount Washington that Moat Mtn has to offer, we can say that it's as relaxing as you need it to be.
Based on the artwork on the cans, we think Kelsen would be good friends with Daydreaming. Kelsen Brewing has won some awards over the years at various brewing competitions, which is pretty cool. Their Paradigm Brown Ale won a few golds on the 2014/2015 circuit, including the U.S. Open Beer Festival and the Great International Beer Festival.
Direct quote from Kelsen, "If you like complex malt profiles and unique combinations of hop flavors and aromas, you might want to pick up a bottle of Kelsen and try us out. Your taste buds will appreciate it."
The brewery logo reminds us a ton of toddler book star Pete the Cat. The craft beer quality is anything but toddler. For instance, Long Blue Cat brews a fruited Mexican lager. That's not an everyday IPA. We had the Radioface DIPA and it was tasty.
We're drinking in our school shoes. We're drinking in our school shoes. We're drinking in our school shoes ... is what we'd probably sing to ourselves if we ever visit the Londonderry taproom.
Bitchin' Blonde ... yes, no, maybe.
- Yes, that's a Pipe Dream beer.
- No, we haven't had it
- Maybe they're fans of 80s hair metal.
Updates to follow. Hopefully soon.
Brewery tours are always a blast. Enjoying some samples, learning about the brewing process, meeting actual brewers on-site. Let's put it this way, there are way worse ways to spend a Saturday. Whether you're touring breweries in Boston or touring breweries in Tahoe, or even Manchester for that matter, no two brewery tours are the same, and that's what we appreciates about them.
If you're looking for a guided brew tour in the Queen City, check out the Manchvegas Brewbus. If you want something a little more intimate, Stark Brewing on Commercial Street offers a handheld tour of their brewing and distilling operation. Or, if you're like us, you can wear out the soles on your sneakers and conduct your own walkable brewery crawl. The choice is yours.
Highly reviewed and widely appreciated is the Manchvegas Brewbus. The owners provide top notch customer service and are as friendly as they are knowledgable. Captain Bill even runs trivia at Backyard Brewery in the off hours.
Your 4 hour brewery tour will run you $60 and include stops a 3-4 breweries, pretzels and snacks, water (in case you need it), and an awesome time carousing in and around Manchester-area breweries - Hint: all of the ones above ... well, 3-4 of them each trip.
If you want to schedule a private tour, reach out to Captain Bill at email@example.com.
Every town or city needs a good craft beer bar. Though microbreweries and modern taprooms are slowly putting them out of a business, they won't go extinct. For Manchester, we recommend the Strange Brew Tavern.
815's core beer selection is good, but it's not what separates them from the pack. What does is their rare beer menu. 815's vintage offerings will run you $20-40 per bottle, but they are well worth it. What's more, most of them are specialty brews from local New England breweries.
Strange Brew has slung craft beers across the bar for over 20+ years in the Queen City. Beyond their impressive craft beer lineup are two other equally (almost?) important lineups they offer, a lineup of burger-building materials and live music artists who play 3-5 nights per week. On the food side, it's traditional pub grub in the best way. On the music side is a mix of blues, acoustic singer/songwriter, and even open mic nights that keep Strange Brew rocking every other night of the week.
They've received a NH Magazine award for best beer selection, and feature a rotating lineup of craft brew and cider from breweries all around New England, including Lone Pine Brewing Company out of Maine and Upper Pass BeerCompany out of Vermont. You can even snag a Mt. Greylock from Worcester's Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company on tap.
Pretzels, Pretzel sandwiches, Pretzel hot dogs, stuffed pretzels, so many pretzels that Rold Gold, Snyder's and Utz would be jealous. As for their beer menu, it's filled up with local New Hampshire brewers, brewers like Concord Craft Brewing, Moat Mountain Brewing, and To Share Brewing, which is just a mile down the street.
Fun fact, Four Peaks Brewing in Tempe, Arizona brews Hop Knot IPA. You know, in case you were wondering.