The Session #87  

The Session this month is asking us to give a little history about a 20+ year old brewery in our local area.  Conveniently, I just had to write up a history of Portsmouth, NH beer for my job so I’m going to cheat a little here and show you the basics of the Frank Jones Brewery.

This month’s Session was orchestrated by Tale of the Ale over on Blogger. His requirements and such can be found here:

the session logo

A Brief History of the Frank Jones Brewery:

1858 saw the founding of what would become the Frank Jones Brewing Company. At the time, Frank Jones was a part owner of the brewery with Englishmen John Swindell. Jones had been raised in Barrington, NH, as the fifth of seven children. At the age of 16, Jones apprenticed in Portsmouth at one of his brother’s stove stores, and then late took over the business in 1854.


From there, he quickly moved his way up in the business world.  By 1859, Jones had bought Swindell out of his share of the brewery (whether he swindled Swindell is not specified…). For much of its life thereafter, the Frank Jones Brewery (FJB) competed with another local Portsmouth brewery, the Elridge Brewing Company, for dominance in the area. FJB arguably became the more dominant of the two, and soon became a big name in the brewing world of the US.


From its small beginnings, FJB continued to expand and grow till it was making 150,000 barrels of ale a year, and had several of its own malt houses on premise. At the time, FJB was actually called the largest ale producer in the US by some in the industry. The brewery even opened up a satellite brewery in Boston in 1886, and had train tracks leading straight out of their Portsmouth brewery and down into Boston.


What were generally believed to be the largest ale and porter storage cellars in the world were built at the Portsmouth FBJ in the early 1880s. Frank Jones eventually sold the brewery to British investors, who had taken a great interest in American breweries just before the turn of the century. The brewery continued to run until 1917 and prohibition when all good things came to an end.


The physical brewery was reopened after prohibition by the FBJ’s rival company, the Elridge Brewing Company. Elridge continued to brew the Frank Jones Ale under a different name, but quickly changed the name back to the Frank Jones Ale to appease the public. The brewery eventually closed for good in 1950 due to the rise in popularity of lager beer in the US. New England was actually one of the last hold outs against the lager, and thus was able to support the brewery up until 1950.


In 1991 Janet Egelston, Peter Egelston, and Mark Metzger opened the Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, NH, founding the first brewpub and craft brewery in the Granite State. Then, in December of 1993, Peter Egleston attended the auction of the Frank Jones Brewing company and happened to purchase the assets that formed the basis of what became Smuttynose Brewing. In this way, Smuttynose continued the legacy of the Frank Jones Brewery.  Smuttynose released their first beer in July of 1994 and have been going strong ever since.


Strange enough, in all my research I could not discover where the actual location of the Frank Jones Brewery was, nor whether Smuttynose’s Heritage Avenue location was built on top of the old brewery. This is especially strange for me since I grew up in the area, and one would think I would recognize a large set of buildings that used to be a brewery and have railroad tracks running out of them…? Perhaps one of you fine folk on the internet can fill me in.


For now, that is my brief history of the Frank Jones Brewery.






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