Find Bliss at Beervana

beervana-motif-full-2Every year since its 2008 inception, Beervana has been charging ahead of the pack of the craft beer revolution. You won’t find Budweiser, Coors, Miller, Pabst, or any of the adjunct-filled, low ABV, corporate brands at this festival. Beervana isn’t about reaching intoxication.

I’ve always described it as a craft beer festival with class and a name it not only continues to live up to, but surpass. Since Brian Oakley of Julians and Mike Ianazzi of Nikki’s Liquors began this show, Beervana has set a new standard for the celebration and elevation of craft beer.

For those unfamiliar with this event, this is the festival for real beer nerds. The breweries that appear do so by invitation only, and they must send someone who understands the beer that they are pouring. If you’re a big fan of sours, stouts, IPAs, tripels or barrel-aged experiments, then this is the festival for you. Each brewery is encouraged to bring something to the event that’s unique; most of the beer at Beervana is either a one-time-only brew or it’s a hidden-away rarity saved for special occasions.

And of course, it is the climactic event of Providence Beer Week, with more than a few special events leading up to this celebration.

For a deeper look into the wonderful madness of this year’s show, I caught up with Brian Oakley, the main man behind Julians in Providence and the new Pizza J.

“Every year we try to make it a little different,” Oakley said. “Last year the front foyer went really well, so this year we’re going to expand onto the whole second floor, which will allow us to add 60 tables, a 100% increase from a few years ago.

“Phil from 2 Roads will be the head speaker this year. He will be speaking on how America has become the driving force in craft beer, whereas a decade ago it was kind of scoffed at by other countries as undrinkable. Now you have IPAs being made in Belgium. They really impacted global beer trends. He’s just going to talk about his career through that transition. And of course, being the person who kind of wrote the book on saisons, he plans on showcasing some special one-offs that will not be available at his table. This year we’ll also be doing a glass giveaway as everyone’s leaving the show; that’s something that Brooklyn put together with us.

“Sean Larkin, who’s a dear friend of mine, will be doing the opening talk this year. I don’t know what it’s going to be about yet,” he continued.

“Julians and the Waffle Cabin will be providing food. New Belgium is bringing a photo booth. Sam Adams swears that Utopia will be there this year. They already have that put aside.

“It’s always exciting to have brewers that are not currently in the state. Beer’d is going to be premiering at the show. I gotta say that this year, a lot of the brands are really bringing it. New Belgium is primarily doing their Lips of faith series, Derek Luke and the crew at Newport Storm has a list that’s pretty awesome. I mean, all the local guys have shown well last year and this year. Proclamation’s list looks really good, Revival’s list looks really good, Foolproof and even brands like Long Trail who’s doing a rum barrel scotch ale.”

Brian then went into a mind-blowingly extensive list of great breweries and the tantalizing-sounding beers that the many breweries from all across the country and the world are bringing to bear (see the list on the opposite page).

“Mike Ianazzi and I get along really well,” said Oakley. “We complement each other really well. The first few years we’d have our spats, and it was definitely stressful. But now we have our good core group of volunteers who want to come back every year. They really help make the show happen. We couldn’t do it without their help. So big props to them.

“It’s a lot of inventory, counting inventory, tables … and a lot of email. Luckily with the local guys, you can just stop by and talk to them. But with some of the non-local guys it’s a lot of correspondence or working with and meeting the distributors. Dave Cummings at Craft Beer Guild is awesome, Chuck and Dave at Elevated Spirits are awesome, all the guys, Brian at Horizon, Providence Beverage, Steve at Wine Bros., he’s awesome.

“The goal of the show has always been to make it a sort of an art show, you know, expose lost styles. Weihenstephaner’s coming this year, but they’re not bringing their hefeweizen, they’re bringing a keller beer, a doppelbock, things that most people probably haven’t had from that brand.”

In essence, that’s what Beervana is all about. If you’re a lover of fine craft beer, get your tickets now, as this is a limited event. If you’re new to craft beer, this is a full college education in one night, and if you’re an experienced craft beer aficionado, then this truly is a whole new state of being.

I’ll see you there. Cheers!

Beervana will take place October 14 from 6:30 to 10pm at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston’s  scenic Pawtuxet village. For tickets, go to beervanafest.com.

 

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