Brewery Wars in Downtown Portsmouth
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Written by SeacoastNH Archive

Portsmouth barroom crica 1911SeacoastNH.com Presents 
Historic Portsmouth #444

Experts in local beer-ology should study this photo carefully. It is littered with fascinating bottles and signs that give us a flavor of the bar scene before Prohibition. The image appeared on a postcard mailed on December 11, 1911. The location of this Portsmouth bar is as yet unknown. (Continued below)

 

The bartender seems none-too-happy to have a photographer in his establishment at eight minutes before 9 pm – or is it more likely 9 am? Only one customer sits to the left of the ornate bar. The wooden case marked “Lager Beer” appears to be topped by a carved Bellamy eagle. A sign at the top promotes Portsmouth Brewing Company with its anchor logo and another suggests customers order a “Tom & Jerry.”  A sign in the middle sets up the beer battle lines in an era when two giant breweries and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard defined the city economy. It reads: “We sell Jones and Eldredge Ales – STATE YOUR CHOICE.” But it was the hand-written sign at the right that drew my attention. Although the barkeep is not in a festive mood, the notice reads: “Try our Holiday Punch: Brim Full of Joyfullness.”  (Booze and spelling apparently do not mix.) The postcard was sent to a sailor aboard the USS New Hampshire with the message “Just keep this to look at when you are dry.” (Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum)

Unidentified Portsmouth, NH bar counter circa 1911/ Portsmouth Athenaeum photo

READER COMMENTS

That is the bar at the Rosa.
-- John Kelley

I think that photo in today's paper is from Jarvis's.  It looks exactly like the Metro bar.  
-- Judy Howard

BONUS CLOSE-UPS

Portsmouth bar detail 01 with Ballamy eagle

Detail of Portsmouth bar 02

Photo (c) Portsmouth Athenaeum,
Text (c) SeacoastNH.com