Food Interview

Raising a Pint in Portsmouth

Brewer Rob DaRosa pours out some details on what’s new from Ragged Island, the East Bay’s only microbrewer


In a nondescript industrial space where Route 114 meets Route 24 in Portsmouth, Ragged Island Brewing Company has quietly been making standout beers. The East Bay’s only microbrewery has been specializing in IPAs since they opened to the public last March. Since then, head brewer Rob DaRosa has seen both the capacity at the brewery and the number of days the taproom is open more than triple.

Is there a sense in the nano-brew and micro-brew world that you are the beer of your town? Do you feel like you are representing Portsmouth at Ragged Island?
We certainly hope so. If we can’t satisfy our own town, how can we please the state or even the nation? We feel we are representing Portsmouth very well by bringing the community together and some of our beer names have Portsmouth historical references.

When I visited the brewery there was only one non-IPA style available. What is it about hops that makes so many American brewing aficionados get so excited?

The hop phenomenon is just magical. Hops are essentially the spice of the beer. These magic flowers give off so much aroma and flavor. It’s fascinating. There are thousands of varieties of hops and all of them are uniquely different: woody, spicy, floral, citrusy, to tropical. I don’t believe there’s another thing on this planet that is so diverse. Don’t let the English and the Germans fool you. Nowadays they are right along with America – in on the hop craze.

Ragged Island will be canning beer soon, after starting with growlers and sample pours. How do you personally rank cans, bottles, growlers and draft pours?
I rank clean draft lines as my number one, cans as my number two, bottles as my number three and growlers as my number four. I believe draft lines taste the best, but are hard to transport. Cans keep light and oxygen out and are easy to transport. Bottles let some light in and have the potential of broken glass. Growlers let air and light in, so you end up with flat beer that doesn’t taste very good.

Your taproom has seats, a bar, a view into the brewery, friendly faces and most importantly, your beer. What one other thing do you wish you could add?

The one thing I wish I could add to the brewery would be food readily available. People stay longer when there is food and they don’t have to go out to a restaurant after a visit. We have pop-up restaurants and food trucks, but it’s not all the time. Also maybe a pinball machine or two.

What flavors and styles do taproom visitors have to look forward to this year?
For the next year we just want to perfect what we’re doing and send out more styles that people are not used to trying, like sour ale or farmhouse saison: things people wouldn’t normally try, but I know they
will like.

Ragged Island Brewing Company
200 Highpoint Ave, Unit B6, Portsmouth