Autumn is always a busy time in New Hampshire thanks to the annual leaf show. But it’s not the necessarily the foliage that travelers come to see — it’s also the colorful presidential candidates who campaign throughout the state in the months leading up to the February primary.
“Anecdotally, the primary campaign trail in New Hampshire will become increasingly busy in the coming weeks and months,” says Amy Bassett, acting director of New Hampshire Travel and Tourism, “with the peak coming in January/February, and the days leading up to primary day.”
Political tourists typically hit the traditional spots — the must-see-and-be-seen diners that the candidates swing by for photo ops with locals and some homemade coconut cream pie.
And this election cycle there’s something new brewing — many of the candidates are visiting New Hampshire’s popular craft breweries.
Here’s where you can get a slice, some suds, and a selfie with a presidential candidate.
Throwback Brewery in North Hampton was open during the 2016 election, but things are quite different this go-around, says co-owner Nicole Carrier. “Since we’ve been open here at the farm, we’ve had our fair share of local candidates stopping by — for example, those running for the Senate, Congress, or to be governor,” says Carrier. “However, this election cycle is really the first that we’ve seen so many presidential candidates reaching out wanting to hold an event here or even just to stop by to do a ‘meet and greet.’ ”
And why not? “Breweries tend to be very relaxed, community-oriented gathering places that are also typically pretty busy,” says Carrier. “As a result, when a candidate comes into a brewery, he or she can very quickly meet a lot of people and, given the atmosphere, it’s much easier for a candidate to come off as authentic and real — not just someone that sticks to stump speeches and pre-canned lines.”
Not all the presidential hopefuls sample the beer, but some do. “The last candidate here was Elizabeth Warren, and she drank a 4-ounce She Sells Seashells,” Carrier said. (That’s a salted blonde ale.) www.throwbackbrewery.com
Liquid Therapy in Nashua, which opened just last December, has also had many requests for presidential candidate visits, says co-owner Amy Vetrano-Palmer, including Kirsten Gillibrand, who stopped by to sip a Citra Ale and play a game of cornhole. (Gillibrand has since dropped out of the race.)
The brewery is housed in what was the town’s original fire station, and naturally is a popular spot for retired firefighters who used to work in the space — the fire pole is still here. And if the candidates don’t swing by for a beer — they might stop in for the homemade beer ice cream. The brewery also hosts a monthly trivia contest — on tap later this fall is a politically themed trivia contest. www.liquidtherapynh.com
No matter your point of view, Hobbs Tavern & Brewery Co. in West Ossipee has lovely views of the White Mountains, beer, of course, and a full menu (think house-marinated steak tips and haddock piccata). The tavern has seen a few candidates over the years, but the request to use the tavern “has gone up exponentially” in this election cycle, says co-owner Robert Finneron.
“None of the candidates have actually imbibed,” says Finneron. “The majority of our guests that have gathered to hear the candidates speak have enjoyed their time with a beer in hand, though. Only Andrew Yang posed for a photo with a beer in hand.”
Later this fall, Hobbs will unveil Blueberry Peach, a new Gose beer in the “Salinity Now” series, and early next year will also debut a new production brewery and tasting room nearby. www.hobbstavern.com
Many of the presidential candidates naturally swing by the State House in downtown Concord, and that’s perfect for Concord Craft Brewing, just one block away.
A number of the beers poured here are politically themed, like the Senatah (American IPA) and the Gov’nah (Imperial/Double), and there’s also a “soap box” in the taproom for any candidate to use to make their message heard, says co-owner Dennis Molnar.
This fall, Milk Stout and Mocha Frozen Beer Slushies will be rolled out in the taproom, Molnar said, and “we are hoping to keep our Soap Box well-trodden as well.” www.concordcraftbrewing.com
A favorite stop of the presidential candidates through the years: The Common Man family of diners and restaurants, including The Common Man Concord, The Tilt’n Diner in Tilton, The 104 Diner in New Hampton, and Airport Diner in Manchester.
Owner Alex Ray opened the first Common Man in 1971 and gave it that name because he wanted people from all occupations and economic backgrounds to be comfortable coming in for a meal, says Erica Auciello Murphy, director of communications and community relations.
“We have definitely seen earlier campaign stops and more frequent campaign stops in this New Hampshire Primary cycle, due to the larger field of candidates,” says Auciello Murphy. “Both Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders held their own town hall-style events at our Common Man Inn & Restaurant in Claremont, N.H., this summer and our Common Man Concord has had lunch guests including Senator Kamala Harris, who dined with us shortly after she announced her candidacy.” Governor Bill Weld also visited the Airport Diner, she says. www.thecman.com
Dan Posternak, owner of popular Roundabout Diner & Lounge in Portsmouth, says he expects this election cycle to be “the biggest campaign season ever,” thanks to the number of candidates and the interest this election has generated.
“Often we don’t get notice till the day before or even the day of, so the greeters are usually customers who happen to be in at the time,” says Posternak, adding that when a candidate does post that they’ll be visiting, the diner sees more supporters of that candidate coming in, for sure.
And what do they eat? “I’ll always push the Reuben or a piece of incredible homemade dessert,” says Posternak. www.roundaboutdiner.com
Laurie Wilson can be reached at email@example.com.