The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Great Rhythm founders Kristen and Scott Thornton. Photo by Matt Berkowitz

Great Rhythm grand opening 

When: Saturday, Aug. 13, noon to 8 p.m. 
Where: 105 Bartlett St., Portsmouth 

A brewery of their own
Great Rhythm Brewing holds grand opening

By Angie Sykeny

 After four and a half years of brewing in rented space, Great Rhythm Brewing Co. will finally have a brewery to call home. The new brewery, located on Bartlett Street in the west end of Portsmouth, will hold its grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 13, with new beer releases, beer flights and products available for purchase.

It’s a highly anticipated event for the nearly 2,000 Great Rhythm fans who have been following its Facebook page since construction got underway last fall. Brewery founders Scott Thornton and his wife Kristen have been posting updates and photos of their progress every week.
“Since we’ve been [under construction] here the past few months, people have been stopping in and asking, ‘When are you opening?’” Scott Thornton said. “That’s a neat thing to hear. A lot of people are excited about it.”
The 11,000-square-foot facility includes a 10-barrel brewhouse, fermentation tanks, a canning line, a keg washer, a warehouse and cold storage area, a lab and water treatment space. Eight hundred square feet belongs to an open concept tasting room overlooking North Mill Pond on one side and the brewery on the other, with a giant window where visitors can observe the brewing process.
“It’s much like one of those restaurants where you can see your food being prepared,” Thornton said. “There’s an excitement to that. People want to see that interaction.”
The tasting room will feature four taps to start and has two 12-foot communal tables to seat groups of friends or serve as a space for socializing with new people. There are also some smaller tables to accommodate families; Thornton said the brewery is intended to be a family-friendly environment.
Prior to Great Rhythm, Scott had worked in the industry for years as a commercial brewer.
“I always loved beer and homebrewing and really enjoyed the mechanical side to everything,” he said. “I was brewing for other companies and helping them realize what they were trying to achieve, but [my wife and I] knew we wanted to start our own, and it was one of those moments when we just said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and decided to dive in head first. Four years later, here we are.”
They first started brewing at Mercury Brewing Co. in Ipswich, Mass., but wanted to “bring brewing closer to home,” Thornton said, so they moved their operations to the original Smuttynose Brewing Co. facility on Heritage Avenue in Portsmouth. Even without its own facility, Great Rhythm has become a familiar name in the New Hampshire beer scene with products available at retail locations throughout the state and appearances at many local beer festivals.
Their trademark brew, Resonation, is a dry hop American-style pale ale. Other brews in their collection include American IPAs Hop Harvest and Hopstock IPA and double IPA Doublestop, an amber ale called AMPLIFIED and an American stout called Grateful Stout.
“Our philosophy is to showcase the hops flavor and aroma,” Thornton said. “We try to make all our beers really approachable in the sense that you can have a few of them because they’re modest in terms of alcohol by volume, but still have lots of flavor.”
Another characteristic of Great Rhythm beers is that they are canned. Cans, Thornton said, act like “a mini keg” and are more protective than glass bottles against light and oxygen, which can compromise the freshness of the beer. They’re also more practical for people with active lifestyles.
“Great Rhythm originated from the idea of living life to the fullest and enjoying time with friends, music and local craft beer,” he said. “We’d hate for people to be limited because [the beer] can’t travel where they want to go.”
The grand opening will feature Resonation plus the new beer releases on tap and packs of 16-ounce cans available for purchase. The new brews are a surprise, Thornton said, but will follow the same hops-forward style as Great Rhythm’s existing lineup.
In the future, Great Rhythm may offer food options and guided tours, but Thornton said they’re taking things one step at a time.
“Right now, it’s just about getting the doors open and being able to share our new space with everyone,” he said.

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