Got Beer? Got Ink? Brew Crews Talk Tattoos

To play along with the fun of the Motif Tattoo Issue, we asked local beer professionals to tell us about their [mostly] brew-related ink. Let’s roll up some sleeves…

Derek_LukepeteAt Newport Storm, co-founder/brewmaster Derek Luke has the Hurricane symbol from the brewery’s logo on his arm. Theresa Malafronte, the Storm PR/events coordinator, says, “He got it in 2003 or 2004 when they were running a program where if you got a Newport Storm tattoo, you got free beer for life. He and a buddy, Ed Carpenter, got tattoos at Federal Hill Tattoo in Providence. Ed still comes by to pick up his free beer.” And assistant brewer/distiller Pete Lanouette sports the Thomas Tew arm. He got it around New Year’s Day in 2012 or 2013 by Victoria Maxwell at Dragon Lily in Portsmouth. “Being only one of the three people who has ever made [Thomas Tew Rum], I felt like I should represent it,” Pete says.

The timing of our tattoo query was serendipitous. A few minutes after we sent our call for ink input, Matt Richardson at Tilted Barn replied, “[Brewery co-founder] Kara [Richardson] is about to get a new tattoo tomorrow! It’s going to cover her upper arm and incorporate a number of different plants and flowers with special meaning – including a hop plant and cones, of course. Pretty much every member of our crew has at least one tattoo. Zac definitely wins for most.”

Michelle_GreySailMichelle Kirms, assistant brewer at Grey Sail, tells us, “I have three – two on my feet and one on my shoulder. I have a dolphin on my left foot because it’s my favorite animal. I got it when I turned 18 in New Jersey (where I’m originally from). I also have the words ‘Let it fly’ on my right foot – I read it on a Frisbee (which was my college sport), and I just think they’re good words to live by. My third tattoo I got a few months ago at Iron Hand in Cranston. It’s a hop vine that I’ve wanted for years.”

Earl Whitford, who is Grey Sail’s Connecticut rep and “overseer of the taps” at the tap room in Westerly, says, “I have several tattoos, but the one that means the most to me is on my left shoulder – my Angel. It’s a constant reminder that there are good things in the world and good people. Each day I try to be the best person I can be. It’s my warrior spirit, my drive – and who wouldn’t want a guardian angel watching over them?!”

Gansett-TatsBJ Mansuetti, the events marketing guru at Narragansett Beer, says, “We actually run a few free tattoo days! At the RI Tattoo Convention a few years ago, we did over 40 ‘Hi-Neighbor! tattoos for our fans. The most tatted of the bunch is definitely our Boston brand manager, Peter Boyd.”

Let’s squeeze in two quick non-tattoo-related notes: What Cheer Tavern, the craft beer outpost on Allens Ave in Providence, re-opened under new management; check their Facebook page for beer lists and other enticements. And a word to the potentially wise: Tix for the Newport Craft Beer Fest, which is at the Great Friends Meeting House on Saturday, April 29, are on sale now. Tickets for 401 beer fests have been selling out at warp speed, so don’t dawdle! Go to to get in on the fun.

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog,, or follow @BottlesCansRI.

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