First in the nation image

New Hampshire is home to a lot of firsts. We were the first state to declare independence from England in 1775. In 1961, Derry native Alan Shepard became the first American in space. The Granite State is also the home of the first snowmobile (Ossipee, 1917) and the Segway (Bedford, 2001). But there’s no bigger New Hampshire first than the “First in the Nation” presidential primary.

Primary season is a big part of our state’s identity. Once every four years, presidential hopefuls, their campaign teams, and hordes of national media descend on our peaceful ‘Shire to give speeches, hold town hall meetings and mingle among pragmatic, hardworking Granite Staters. We’ve seen seven presidential elections cycles since Portsmouth Brewery opened in 1991 and both Portsmouth and Smuttynose have been fortunate to host candidates from both parties, plus a few independents.

Being small businesses with relatively high public profiles affords us this privilege. Our guests and staff have had the chance to ask questions, hear candidates’ positions and shake the hands of national and world leaders. Our doors are open to everyone who approaches us; that’s how both Smuttynose and Portsmouth Brewery can do our parts to help further political discourse. The alternative, close-minded approach is intellectually lazy.

In recent years when we’ve hosted candidates, we’ve learned to expect some vitriolic hate mail, and even threats of boycotting our beer. We’re glad that folks feel empowered to share their thoughts with us, but if our hosting political leaders whose views are different from theirs is enough to make them change their beer choices, so be it.

Portsmouth Brewery’s motto, “We Serve All Types,” applies to beer drinkers and burger eaters, but it also applies to voters, candidates and elected officials. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.