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Got Beer? April Shower May Bring Beer! New brews and events to celebrate spring

SmugElGringoLouGotBeerA coupla months back, we shared the scoop re Community Bruin, Rhode Island’s newest brewery, which is now open in West Greenwich (74 Nooseneck Hill Rd). Carl Mattson boasts that his operation is “the smallest nano-brewery in the smallest state in the US,” with a half-barrel setup. His initial offerings have included Chamomile Blonde, a pilsner with chamomile, honey and vanilla flavors; Pizza II, a pilsner and maize base with Italian seasonings; Wild Bore, an amber clone from Bermuda, malty and with mild hops; and Munich SMaSH, made with Munich malt and Columbus hops; there were two beers on deck: St. Joseph, a copper-colored clone from Italy, to honor the Saint; Gingerbread Cookie, a brown ale with ginger spice; and Honor Flight IPA, a session-style brew with chinook hops. CB is open on Saturdays from 1 – 4pm (with Friday hours on the horizon) and is currently offering samplers (four 4-ounce tastings) and bombers-to-go; keep track of further developments at communitybruin.com

Cinco de Mayo is on Sunday, May … oh yeah, 5. But the Cinco de Madness will be happening all weekend at 401 breweries. Three of ’em have concocted Mexican-style lagers to power the festivities: Ragged Island in Portsmouth has Donde Esta La Biblioteca on tap (and will be opening its outdoor seating area, weather-permitting); Smug Brewing in Pawtucket has El Gringo, which they note “will not dropkick you out of the ring; instead it will let you go a few rounds” (thanks to its 4.9% ABV); and Shaidzon Beer Company is serving Cancun Dave, and will raise the roof of their West Kingston HQ with music by Dudemanbro on May 3 and the Naticks on May 4. And here’s a bit o’ Cinco de Trivia you can share whilst toasting the holiday (which celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War – but you knew that, right?): our pals at CraftBeer.com note that Mexican lagers’ “roots actually lie in Austria, and brewer Anton Dreher, who created the Vienna-style lager in 1836. The style was then brought to Mexico by Austrian brewers in the late 1800s, where it has continued to thrive.”

Speaking of CraftBeer.com, the site is the creative offshoot of the Brewers Association, the alliance of “small and independent” beermakers, and it’s banging the drum for the 14th annual American Craft Beer Week, which runs May 13 – 19. The campaign had more oomph when it kicked off in 2006, in the dark and primitive days when there wasn’t a brewery ’round every corner. But there will likely be some tap takeovers and special releases and other events ’round here; we’ll post ’em at the blog listed at the bottom of this column if we can scare up the intel.

Speaking of the Brewers Association, it just released its State Craft Beer Sales & Production Statistics for 2018. Here are the Rhode Island numbers: The state had 26 craft breweries during the reporting period, which ranks 46th in the US and equals 3.2 breweries per capita (per 100,000 21-plus adults); the beermakers produced 35,398 barrels of beer (1.3 gallons per 21-plus adults), and the economic impact was $152 million (that figure is from 2016; the revenue reports are in the slow lane). Hit brewersassociation.org for a deep dive on the methodology and footnotes and fine print.

And here’s a great way to celebrate craft beer in Rhode Island year-round: the Rhode Island Brewers Guild is offering an Enthusiast Membership, which includes a swag bag, early VIP entry into the Ocean State Beer Fest in September, early bird ticket access to the 2020 Newport Craft Beer Fest, membership beverages at participating breweries and more! Go to ribrewersguild.org and/or drop a note to gary@ribrewersguild.org to sign up.

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




Got Beer? Three Cheers for Beers!: New beers are popping up like spring flowers

ShandyThe 401 beer world is fermenting with activity! Here’s the latest news on our ambitious purveyors of your favorite brew:

On April 5, Long Live Beerworks cut the metaphorical ribbon at their splendiferous new location at 40R Sprague St in PVD. The spacious mill space has been transformed into a beer lover’s palace, with two levels to roam and sit and sip and gawk at the shiny tanks filled with Armando DeDona’s drool-worthy creations. Everything’s bigger and better at the new HQ, including 18 taps, more cans-to-go with the mega-leap in brewing capacity, expanded food options and six days of bounteous taproom hours: Monday/Wednesday/Thursday 3-10pm; Friday noon – 10pm; Saturday 11am – 10pm and Sunday 11am – 6pm. Mega-cheers to the LLB crew!

Meanwhile, the Beer On Earth duo – Adam Henderson and Paul DiBiase – are setting up shop at Long Live’s former home (425 West Fountain St). They told us: “We have officially closed the North Kingstown brewery and are in the process of designing the Providence location with the help of local artists. The increased brewing capacity will allow us to can beer and send some into local distribution and, to help with the production, we are actively looking to bring on another brewer to join the team. We also plan on hiring a few craft beer enthusiasts to work the taproom. We hope to open by the beginning of summer with a few of our favorite beers on tap alongside some newbies.” Follow their progress at beeronearth.com.

Meanwhile, on April 4, Ragged Island Brewing Company announced they “received unanimous approval from the Portsmouth Zoning Board” for the plans to build a farm brewery, “a full year since we made the decision to pursue this opportunity.” All systems go for yet another magnificent beer destination in 2020 (raggedislandbrewing.com).

Meanwhile, the folks at Narragansett Beer are looking into launching a multi-purpose attraction – a brewpub/taproom with other beery elements – in the building (owned by Brown University) next to the Hilton Garden Inn near India Point Park. A hearing for a special use permit will be held on May 8. We tried to get some specifics about the proposal from the “Hi-Neighbor!” brain trust, but they’re keeping mum for now. But in other ’Gansett news, they just unveiled the latest mashup with Del’s Frozen Lemonade – Watermelon Shandy. It’s a sure sign of summer…

Lightning round: The Newport Craft Beer Festival is alllll sold out. But if you want to extend your beer-absorbing fun after the sessions and/or drown your sorrows if you didn’t score a ticket, head to Norey’s on Broadway (a few blocks from the NCBF), which is staging a Proclamation Ale tap takeover starting on April 26 at 4pm. Hit noreys.com for the lineup… The Rhode Island Brewers Guild has updated its RI Brewery Passport program to include 27 (!) breweries, and will soon announce some more RI-centric incentives for 401 beer enthusiasts. Go to ribrewersguild.org for the intel… Apponaug Brewing Company will be opening its outdoor beer garden in early May, with casual seating and dining, plus a firepit and cornhole; a new beer will debut to toast the al fresco option (apponaugbrewing.com)… Whalers Brewing made the Brewers Association’s list of the top 50 fastest-growing craft shops in the US; much of their growth is due to expanding their base of retail accounts… A slew of new brews are on deck: Shaidzon Beer Company will unveil Sea & Sand, a pale ale dry-hopped with Simcoe and Mosaic hops; Matunuck White, which will be an exclusive for Matunuck Oyster Bar (and at their tasting room in West Kingston); and Hazed and Blazed, a DIPA that will debut at a release party on 4/20, featuring music by the Rival Roots reggae band (facebook.com/shaidzonbeerco)… And Foolproof will drop Pickelodeon, a cucumber gose, this weekend, and Mango Vango will be available on April 26 (facebook.com/FoolproofBrew).

Go get ’em!

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




Got Beer? Raise a Glass: A boatload of beer news

WhiteDog In the Spring Guide edition of “Got Beer?,” we noted that the details re: the 3rd Annual Bacon & Beer Fest were TBA – but we can A ’em now! The best-of-both-worlds bash, brought to you by the folks from Beervana Fest and RI Food Fights, will take place on June 16 from 2 – 5pm at Cranston Print Works (1381 Cranston St; The Steel Yard, which hosted the first two gatherings, is closed for renovations). Culinary superstars (including Julians, Boru, Salted Slate, Diego’s, Warwick Ice Cream and 20 more) pair small bacon-centric dishes – sliders, waffles, soup, fritter, whathaveyou – with a single beer (breweries TBA), and the outstanding combo is decided by popular vote. Early bird tix went live on the 18th; check eventbrite.com for the regular bird admission papers.

On June 28, 2016, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed House Bill 8100 Substitute B and Senate Bill 3053 Substitute A, which allowed breweries to sell 288 ounces of beer for off-premise consumption, in any combo of growlers, bottles and cans — a significant increase from the former 72-ounce limit – and sell 36 ounces in-house. Last week, the Senate hosted a policy roundtable titled “Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island,” unveiling a passel of notions to goose economic development. One of the bills would up the ounces-to-go limit at breweries to 384 ounces, greenlighting sales of a 24-count case of 16-ounce bottles or cans. A legislative note re: the package of Senate proposals says that the proposed change “seeks to allow additional growth in an industry that has recently gone from 14 to 30 craft breweries due to an earlier law addressing this issue.” We assume the bill will sail through and be enacted in a few months – so start saving up for those $90 – $120 cases of tallboys!

The Brewers Association, the trade organization that represents small and independent American craft brewers, has released its list of the top 50 craft brewers and top 50 overall beermakers in 2018. Narragansett Beer is #32 on the craft list and #42 overall. The “Hi-Neighbor!” brand has made steady progress in the past five years; in 2014, ’Gansett was #47 on the craft list and absent from the top 50 (they made the ’15 tally at #45). Congrats to Mark Hellendrung and his crew. And ICYM our previous mentions, go to narragansettbeer.com for the skinny on their BuyRITour (spoiler alert: free beer!).

Shaidzon Beer Company has a trio of fresh brews to entice you to their West Kingston HQ: London Dungeon, a porter that was among their very first offerings is making its triumphant return; a new saison; and Ocean Lust, an IPA which should be ready any day now.

A tasty Pawtucket collab is in the works: Crooked Current will be aging one of its OG beers, oatmeal rum raisin, in a White Dog Distilling barrel that previously spawned Puppy Bourbon, Cornucopia Whiskey and Aged Rum. Check CC’s socials for updates on when the brew will be tapped.

The waiting, which is the hardest part, natch, is almost over: Long Live Beerworks says that the “buildout of the new space is basically done.” and they’re hoping for an early April opening. Go to loglivebeerworks.com for links to alla their hoppy platforms. And Ragged Island is thisclose to getting approval from the Portsmouth planning and zoning boards so they can finalize the purchase of the land that will be the home of their new farm-based brewery. Cheers to all!

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




Got Beer? Spring Beahs A’Bloomin’: And the pros keep a’brewin’

The clocks spring ahead on March 10, and in this edition of “Got Beer?,” we’re springing ahead to guide you to some of the season’s notable gatherings, plus some more immediate pleasures.

The 8th Annual Newport Craft Beer Festival presents its VIB (Very Important Beer) session on April 26 from 8 – 10pm at Newport Craft Brewing Co. and the big bash under the big top on the 27th at the Great Friends Meeting House from noon – 3pm and 4 – 7pm. The NCBF is highlighting sour beers, but every other style will be pouring, natch. Get tix at newportcraftbeer.com – and get ’em soon, ’cuz beer fest tickets tend to go fast these days.

The Greenwich Odeum (59 Main St, East Greenwich) is throwing a fundraiser for itself on May 11 at 4pm. Little Rhody: Local Bands, Local Brews boasts four tribute bands (Allmans, Monkees, Doors, Neil Young) and an original headliner (Chapell), and a baker’s half-dozen of local breweries: Apponaug, Foolproof, LineSider, Proclamation, Revival and Wailers (and the Guild-affiliated Wash Ashore). Admission includes eight beer sample tickets; get more details at greenwichodeum.com.

The 3rd Annual Bacon & Beer Fest, brought to you by the folks from Beervana Fest and RI Food Fights, will take place at a soon-to-be-announced location on a TBA day in June (The Steel Yard, which hosted the first two events, is being renovated). Follow the organizers’ socials for the TBA reveals.

And as we noted a couple’a columns ago, Narragansett Beer’s BuyRITour is underway, and will run through spring, summer and fall, with events in each of the state’s 39 cities and towns, in alphabetical order. The ’Gansett folks will buy you a beer in the next couple’a weeks in Charlestown (March 7), Coventry (the 14th), and Cranston (the 21st and 22nd); hit their website for more dates and follow ’em all over the Biggest Little.

Okay, here are a few great reasons to hit the 401 beer trail in the next few weeks: Ragged Island Brewing in Portsmouth has a BIG can release party on March 13, with fresh batches of Two Tree DIPA, Old Boys Vienna Lager, Baulston Porter, Surfer’s End, Aquidneck Pale Ale and 5th Ward Stout. And the latter beer will be the brew o’ choice at a launch party at Midtown Oyster Bar in Newport on the 15th, with a slew of Irish-themed music and revelry in honor of Saint Patrick. Check raggedislandbrewing.com for a slew of other enticements. Whalers Brewing in Wakefield has a trio of new brews on tap: Sirius, a tropical Berliner Weisse; Pretender, a golden-colored stout; and Olneyville Megazord, a dry-hopped brown ale. And Foolproof Brewing is unveiling Tatou, a new rosé saison, in 12-ounce cans and on draft.

And the new Rhody breweries keep a-comin’: Twelve Guns Brewery will be setting up shop in Bristol (549 Metacom Ave). Homebrewer Kyle Michaud is going pro with a seven-barrel system; he’s aiming for a mid-summer opening (which likely means fall, the way these things usually roll); check the Twelve Guns Fbook page for updates. And Community Bruin is coming to West Greenwich (74 Nooseneck Hill Rd). Carl Mattson notes that his operation “will be the smallest nano-brewery in the smallest state in the US,” with a half-barrel setup; he adds that “the plan is to be small enough to experiment with some five-gallon homebrew-sized batches of beer to sample in the tasting room, as well as increase the volume to a more marketable sized half-barrel to a full barrel of production so customers may purchase some beer to go.” (And FYI, the name is a regional dialect play on “brewin’ some beah.”) Follow Carl’s progress at communitybruin.com.

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




Respect Yr Elders! Don’t forget the classics that paved the way for the craft beer revolution

FlagshipIn January, noted beer scribe Stephen Beaumont suggested that the craft beer world should celebrate venerable, and increasingly taken-for-granted, legacy beers. He tweeted: “Flagship beers are down in sales across the board because drinkers get bored. In the spirit of alliteration, how about we make next month Flagship February!?! The focus would be on drinking faves from the early years, not necessarily exclusively, but frequently. The brands would get a boost and drinkers would be reminded of  what got them here.” Beaumont elaborated in an e-mail to Forbes: “A lot of beer drinkers have developed a sort of ADD with respect to the beers they drink, so going for a glass of beer at the bar or pub becomes less a pleasant distraction and more a relentless search for what’s new and exciting. In this mad rush toward the unusual and unknown, we tend to forget the great, familiar and still-wonderful beers that guided us all along the path to the craft beer renaissance.” He launched flagshipfebruary.com, which has posted daily essays extolling the virtues of long-running brews.

Beaumont’s campaign inspired us to ask our 401 brewers and beer pros about the standard-setting beers that inspired their labors of love.

Chip Samson at Shaidzon Beer Company said, “I was a Keystone Light slugger and then it hit me that beer could have something different going on. I was a Boulderite (CO) for a number of years and Avery Brewing was a regular Friday afternoon haunt for me. We’d bring the cribbage board and have a few tastings. I enjoyed their whole array of beers, but I would say the Avery IPA was a mid-2000s classic for me that stuck. And I know that Allagash White is high on [brewer] Josh [Letourneau]s list of favorites.

BJ Mansuetti, the marketing guru at Narragansett Beer, said, “I do love me a Long Trail Ale. Balanced, flavorful and just enough crispness to be an all-night drinker. A classic for a reason.”

The dynamic duo at Beer On Earth weighed in. Paul DiBiase said, “Anchor Steam was most definitely my ‘gateway beer.’ I remember trying it for the first time at a friend’s house and thinking, ‘What is that flavor?’ It was a huge step up from the mass beers I was drinking at the time, and definitely started me down the road of exploring the world of beer.” Adam Henderson recalled, “I was a big fan of Magic Hat in my college days, especially #9. It was more flavorful than the light lagers I was drinking at the time, and I really appreciated the way that they branded and marketed their beers. They took a funky approach to artwork and design, and that definitely appealed to me as a novice consumer just starting to get into the craft beer movement.”

Beer On Earth is also the topic of this edition’s Big Beer News: “We are planning on moving into the Long Live Beerworks space at some point this spring, where we will have the capacity to brew more beer and package it in cans. We will continue operations at our North Kingstown location until the move happens, but we are excited to be moving to Providence in the near future!”

And speaking of Long Live, Armando DeDona has some welcome post-government openup (y’know, the opposite of shutdown) news: “Now that the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is open, we have our Brewer’s Notice, and we’re just waiting on final inspections and the state license transfer. A few more weeks…” We’ll drink a flagship – say, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or a North Coast Red Seal Ale, or a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, or a Victory HopDevil IPA or an Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale – to that!

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




Show-Down Slow-Down: The government shutdown ripple effect reaches Rhody beer

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Beer is a many-splendored and (responsibly) intoxicating thing, but navigating the beer business is a sobering experience. The beer/wine/distilled spirits industry is controlled by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which was established in 2003 when it was separated from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The TTB issues permits to producers and wholesalers and approves labels and ads. In Brew Your Business: The Ultimate Craft Beer Playbook (an essential read for amateur and pro brewers), authors Karen McGrath and Regina Luttrell note that the sundry processes “can be slowed by many factors, including, but not limited to, a backlog of applications … or other specific reasons. The permit process may take weeks, months or years.” The molasses-paced permit process can also get derailed by a 35-day government shutdown, which ended on January 25.

While the Build-That-Wall/Steel-Slats/Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It-Faceoff was underway, we asked some 401 brewers for specifics re: how their businesses were affected. Jennifer Brinton, owner of Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island, said, “We have one new label hung up in the queue. Our distillery notice is ready, but we can’t submit [it], so an entire new business will be delayed. The most brutal part is when you’re making plans, you need scenarios A-to-E, because we have no clue when the government will open for business, nor do we know how long it will take for them to catch up and resume ‘normalcy.’”

We have some bad news about the return to “normalcy”: On January 31, the TTB site posted that the average label processing time (calendar days) for beer labels was 52 days, and they were working on new applications that were received on December 13 – nine days before the shutdown began. And as of January 28, 9,966 COLA (certificate of label approval/exemption) applications had been received – in 2019 alone! Hurry up and wait!

Shaidzon Beer Company had a different problem. Josh Letourneau and Chip Samson collaborated with the crew from the Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland, Maine, on Ode to Aegir, a Norwegian farmhouse ale. But the shutdown prevented the beer from being distributed to Novare Res because the label approval was pending.

Nick Garrison, the owner of Foolproof Brewing Company, said, “We have a few labels in the works, including one that we would ideally [have] submitted to the TTB [two weeks ago]. We’re concerned but not panicking yet – at least we can release these beers in our home state without federal approval.”

The TTB imbroglio may resume on February 15 (check your fave news sites for the latest musings and fumings). And, yes, the shutdown has larger ramifications in The Big Picture (TSA and food inspections, f’rinstance). But this is the “Got Beer?” column, dammit, and we’re hoping that our dedicated local beermakers can get back to business-as-usual ASAP!

Okay, let’s get to some good beer news! Armando DeDona, the miracle worker at Long Live Beerworks, shared the latest word on the pending move to his magnificent new brew palace: “We’re at the home stretch of buildout, but we are still waiting on final inspections before we can call the big move. Equipment should be fully online and ready to go any day now. We’re currently building our team to support the bigger space, which will include one additional production brewer and a few more taproom staff. And we’re taking over the Boiler House right next door, which will serve as our dedicated barrel-aging facility (and extra storage never hurts). In regard to the TTB, ironically we did get approval on our license transfer, but the shutdown occurred before the official Brewer’s Notice [which greenlights a commercial brewery] was issued. Great timing, for sure. We’re staying optimistic that the paperwork will work itself out soon. In the meantime, we’re pumping out new and reissued beers in the current space. It’s definitely a crazy time of year, and we’re excited to see how we grow.”

In our previous column, we noted the evolution of 84 Tavern on Canal into 84 Aleworks Brewing & Tavern. And now Norey’s, a superb restaurant in Newport (156 Broadway), widely renowned for its top-notch beer selection, is also morphing into the brewpub business. Owner Tyler Cullen will be making his own beers in collaboration with veteran New England brewers. The tanks are in place, and Tyler was hoping for a February debut, but the usual new-brewery snags, coupled with the natural gas outage in the city, has set him back just a bit. We’ll have more details on the endeavor down the road.

And this just in, seconds before we were ready to hit “send” on this rack o’ words:

Narragansett Beer announced the BuyRI Tour: “In 2019, we want to buy every Rhode Islander a ’Gansett – you’ve earned it!” Mark Hellendrung and his crew will be hosting events in each of the state’s 39 cities and towns – in alphabetical order. Party-goers will receive a free ‘Gansett (the first 50 folks will also score a pint glass). The initial bashes are on Friday, Februrary 8 at the Blue Water Grille in Barrington and the 15th at Thames Waterside in Bristol. Check the Neighborhood Watch at narragansettbeer.com for updates throughout the year, neighbor!

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




Happy New Beer! 2019 brings new places and faces

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The new year has ushered in some “new” places to get your beer on. Let’s start with the evolution taking place at Revival Brewing Company. On New Year’s Day, Sean Larkin and his hearty crew took over the upstairs space at 505 Atwood Ave in Cranston that was formerly Brutopia. Revival PR guru Mat Medeiros said, “Everything in the tasting room downstairs was moved up – the games, merchandise and can sales. The new hours are Monday – Wednesday noon – 8pm, Thursday noon – 10pm, Friday and Saturday noon – 11pm, and Sunday noon – 9pm. We’ll have more taps and offer food, too. To start, there will be a limited menu offered Thursday through Sunday. Guests can expect to see bites like smoked short ribs and waffles, fish tacos, and vegan chicken (aka seitan) and grits.” Revival will unveil three fresh brews this month: Jenn’s Mocha Stout (a collaboration with ’HJY ) will return, along with a new version of Bushido Pumpkin Ale with blood orange. And they’ll debut a Belgian-style tripel called Wafel made with Burgundian Waffles. Check Instagram and Facebook for updates on the bigger and better Revival experience.

84 Tavern on Canal, a superb restaurant in Westerly, has morphed into a brewpub and rebranded as 84 Aleworks Brewing & Tavern. Executive chef/owner Christopher Champagne installed a one-barrel system and poured their first offerings a week before Christmas. At press time, their lineup featured a golden ale, an IPA, a brown ale and a brunch stout (complementing their first-class array of local, national and international brews). 84 Aleworks is the newest member of the Rhode Island Brewers Guild and they are part of the Brewery Passport program; visit ribrewersguild.org to download and/or print the latest version of RIBG sip-local-and-get-cool-swag tour guide.

And two breweries have announced their Opening Soon in 2019 plans. The Valley Breeze dropped the scoop that Lops Brewing will be launching in Woonsocket (fingers crossed for a spring opening). Home brewer Sean Lopolito will go pro with a 3.5-barrel system and a 40-seat taproom at his new spot at 122 North Main St. Follow his progress on Facebook.

Antler Ale Works is also getting ready to join the 401 beer family. Partners Rob, AJ and Nate have lofty goals: “Our mission is to establish Antler Ale Works as a brewery that will not only deliver exceptional local craft beer, but empower our patrons to further appreciate all types of beer through education of styles, ingredients and the brewing process while partnering with others in the community.” The trio have already been active in our corner of the beer world, presenting educational classes and brewing demos and sharing the collabs made with their pals at Beer on Earth at the latter’s North Kingstown HQ. They’ll be opening their brewery and taproom on West Park Street in Providence (off Pleasant Valley Parkway, near POP, the Emporium of Pop Culture) ASAP. Get updates at facebook.com/antleraleworks.

And in mega-timely reporting, Shaidzon Beer Company is releasing a new beer today (assuming you are reading these words on January 17). Ode to Aegir, a Norwegian farmhouse ale, is a collaboration with the beer savants at Novare Res Bier Cafe in Portland, Maine, who trekked to West Kingston and brewed with Josh and Chip right after Christmas. Ode to Aegir was made with juniper boughs and a Norwegian yeast strain. And worry not: They brewed enough to supply the demand of readers who read these words on the 18th (and 19th and 20th . . . but don’t push your luck!).

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




Auld Lang Syne: The year in Rhody beer

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The time, it flew! The beers, they flowed!! The Rhode Island brewery scene, it kept a-growing!!!

It was a massive year for new 401 beermakers, with six additions to the thriving craft-or-whatever-you-wanna-call-it community: Providence Brewing Company (in North Providence in May), Taproot Brewing Company (Middletown, June),  Beer On Earth (North Kingstown, July), Apponaug Brewing Company (Warwick, October), Smug Brewing Company (Pawtucket, November) and LineSider Brewing (East Greenwich, November). Some perspective re: the mega-growth: from November 2011 through November 2014, nine breweries were launched in Rhode Island, and no one joined the local brewing ranks in 2015; three shops (Ragged Island, Shaidzon, and Buttonwoods) bowed in 2017. There are now 24 breweries/brewpubs in the state (plus the contract partners at the Guild, which opened its massive beer hall in November), and two more are currently in the works for 2019 (and Long Live hopes to move to its new home in a month or so).

So make a resolution to visit alla the beer havens ASAP and earn your swag from the Rhode Island Brewers Guild, which now has three levels of Ale (and Lager) Achievement in its Passport program: seven visits nabs a pint glass, 14 gets a baseball cap and a full sheet of stamps scores a bottle of End of the Rhode, a collab beer made at Grey Sail. (And the RIBGers will be launching a new look at ribrewersguild.org any day now.)

Rhode Island’s flood of new breweries is keeping apace with the still-flourishing national craft-or-whatever-you-wanna-call-it industry. The Brewers Association just posted its 2018 stats: There are now more than 7,000 breweries in the US, a 20% increase over 2017; there are an estimated one million homebrewers (and many of them are dreaming of going pro); and 85% of drinking-age residents live within 10 miles of a brewery – which lends a wonderful new definition to the phrase “near-beer”!

But before we tie a bow on 2018, we encourage you to get a start on your RIBG Passport and pick up a few end-of-year treats for your holiday sipping. Adam and Paul at Beer On Earth are currently serving Building Wings, a piney IPA, plus a Belgian winter ale, with a chocolate stout to follow after the holidays. And they’ll be throwing a New Year’s Eve-ish party on December 29, featuring the release of a champagne-like Brut IPA to celebrate all that they’ve accomplished in 2018. They plan to boost production and start canning in 2019. Onward and upward!

Foolproof Brewing Company just shared Forecast Chapter 5, a New England breakfast ale with oats, maple, allspice and vanilla; and they’ll tap a special beer for New Years Eve (details TBA; check their socials for updates). And huzzah to Nick and his crew, who are gearing up to launch their portfolio in Philly.

Revival Brewing invites you to pucker up with their new sour, Merry Beary; and Elder Dweller Cocoa Stout will be canned any day now. And if you donate to the pet food drive to benefit the Providence Animal Rescue League (which runs through the end of the month), their brewery dog, Oscar, will buy you a pint. Woof!

Shaidzon Beer Company has 500ml bottles (no draught) of Heavenly Flowers, a sour ale blended with a light saison aged in Jonathan Edwards red wine barrels for over six months (and bottle-conditioned for six weeks), which they debuted at Beervana. And the rest of the 401 breweries will have liquid goodness for your merrymaking pleasure; get the details on their platforms, many of ’em prefer to blow their own horns….

Cheers and happy holidays!

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




Drink Beer, Do Good: Help out California wildfire victims and then pick up some suds-soaked gifts

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The last time we met in this space, we shared the reasons to be thankful from 401 beermakers. In this Holiday Gift Guide, we’ve collected a few suggestions for 401 beer-related gifts, which will engender waves of thanks from your beloved giftees – and we have some beer news for youse, natch.

But let’s start with a charitable drive that exemplifies the spirit of the season and the camaraderie of the beer community. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is based in Chico, California, near the epicenter of the site of the devastating Camp Fire. They are supporting relief efforts with the release of Resilience, a “Butte County Proud IPA.” Sierra Nevada reached out to brewers nationwide to make their own batches of Resilience, with 100% of sales to benefit the Camp Fire Relief Fund; malt, hop, and yeast suppliers provided raw ingredient donations to the 1000-plus breweries who answered the call. Locally, Grey Sail, Newport Craft, Shaidzon, Isle Brewers Guild and Taproot brewed Resilience last week; the big-hearted beer will be available any day now. We implore you to drink as many as you (responsibly) can to aid the cause.

Okay, back to the stocking-stuffing: Grey Sail has a boatload of gift-worthy special beers. The latest entry in their Wheelhouse Series is a milkshake IPA called Kegnog, made with Amarillo hops plus lactose and vanilla. It’s available through the holidays. And head to their Westerly HQ for some brewery-only beauts: Small Craft Advisory highlights adventurous concoctions from their new three-barrel system, available on draft and very limited tallboy four packs. Current offerings include Peach Sour (cans only), Mosaic IPA (cans and draft) and Coffee Brown Ale (draft only; proceeds are being donated to Stand Up For Animals). Event-wise, they’ll host a Holiday Flea Market on December 8 from noon to 4pm; local vendors will sell beer/wine/spirit-related crafts, a brewery-only barrel-aged beer will be tapped that day, and patrons are encouraged to bring non-perishable items for the local food bank in exchange for raffle tickets for “some cool items.” And the new “Wednesdays in the Winter” series will present expos and craft nights at the taproom, including a “Sip and Script” calligraphy class on December 12. Check facebook.com/GreySail for details.

Newport Craft Brewing offers these gift enticements: three types of holiday baskets, tailored for the beer, rum, and outdoor lovers, with a combo of gear and products at a discounted rate. And when you buy a gift card of $50 or more, you get a free piece of retro Newport Storm merchandise. And be sure to get a bottle of NCB’s Annual Release 18, a potent (10.2% ABV) barleywine aged in oak barrels that housed Thomas Tew Rum. You can get a taste of that and the rest of their offerings on December 7 at a Prohibition Party, celebrating the 85th anniversary of Repeal Day (December 5). The event features live music and light food, and the brewery will be decked out like a speakeasy! Get tickets at newportcraft.com.

Shaidzon Beer Company has some sweet options for the holidays, including First Anniversary glassware and new T-shirts emblazoned with Rhody-style directions – “Where Proclamation used to be.” Beer-wise, they’re unveiling a new look for cans of Never Tomorrow IPA and brewing a few beers that debuted last winter.

And give yourself an early present by attending Foolproof Brewing Companys fifth annual Barrel Reserve Night on Saturday, December 8 from 7-10pm, with rare brews and food and brrrrr-y fun; get tix at facebook.com/foolproofbrew. And while youre there, load up on gift cards and new Foolproof Ts.

Quick sip: LineSider Brewing Co. is the fifth (!) 401 beermaker to open its doors in 2018; they cut the ribbon at their East Greenwich home (1485 South County Trail, Suite #201) the day after Thanksgiving. Congrats to former New England Patriots center Dan Koppen and partner Jeremy Ruff on their new endeavor!

 For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @Bottlesandcansclapyouthands




Beer with Gr-attitude: 401 brewers give thanks to the 401 beer community

Local beer lovers have an abundance of thanks to give, as they revel in the splendor of our ever-expanding brewery scene and thriving suds culture. In the spirit of the celebratory season, we asked 401 beermakers to share their reasons to be cheerful (and a few newsy tidbits).

Let’s start in South Kingstown at Whalers Brewing Company. Josh Dunlap and Wes Staschke said, “We would like to express our gratitude for everyone in Rhode Island and beyond who have helped make 2018 an amazing year for Whalers. We’re grateful for all the support we’ve received from the Rhode Island drinking community and are looking forward to wrapping up the year strong with some awesome new beers coming out just in time for Thanksgiving, and some OG recipes making a comeback in the taproom. Wes has a new sour ale coming out called Piesces, brewed with green apple, cinnamon and vanilla. And Josh is brewing American Strong Ale this month – one of the first recipes we ever brewed at Whalers. Thanks for drinking our beer, everyone!”

Adam Henderson and Paul DiBiase at Beer On Earth in North Kingstown tell us that “We will be open the night before Thanksgiving for pours and growler fills, and plan on releasing a chocolate stout within the next couple of weeks, and a few more seasonal beers as we get closer to Xmas. We are thankful for all of the customers who took a chance on us early on and continue to support us on a weekly basis. We are also thankful for the new customers who show up at the brewery each week to drink our beer – especially the ones who show patience in locating the brewery after driving past it a couple times! Finally, we are thankful for all of the help and advice that we have gotten from other RI brewers and the acceptance that they have shown us within the brewing community since day one.”

Mat Medeiros at Revival Brewing reports from Cranston: “We canned and released Neverbetter Double Black IPA last weekend. It’s the re-launch of the Double Black IPA we released as our first beer all those years ago. And we’re partnering with the Black Ale Project – proceeds from every can sold will go toward the American Military Partner Association that supports LGBTQ service members and veterans. And that’s exactly what we’re thankful for: helping others. Being able to do what you love every day is a blessing and we love beer. But we love our community more because without community we wouldn’t be able to do any of this.”

We’ll give the last short-and-sweet/thanks-related words to Armando DeDona at Long Live Beerworks: “I’m thankful for our strong and supportive beer community. It’s truly what keeps us innovating.” (He also noted that they’re “aiming for January” to open their fab new space a mile or so from their current Providence HQ.)

Let’s squeeze in three more newsy notes: Smug Brewing Company had its Grand Opening on November 10, following a couple of soft-open weekends. The latest 401 beermaker – in Pawtucket where Bucket usedtabe (100 Carver St) – hit the ground running with its first can releases (Blocker, an American pale ale, and Driving Miss Hazy, a New England IPA) during the gala event. Congrats to head brewer Rob DaRosa and his partner Stephen David on their new venture.

Shaidzon Beer Company’s first anniversary bash is on Friday, November 23, from 1 to 8pm (in West Kingston), featuring two special brews: a First Anniversary Imperial Stout brewed with vanilla bean, cacao and lactose; and Lowland Villager, a saison returning to its original form with peppercorn and locally sourced sage from Petals Farm. Both will be available in 16-ounce cans and on tap. And there will be live music from the trio Take It To the Bridge from 3 to 6pm.

And two tasty worlds will collide at Proclamation Ale Company in Warwick on Sunday, November 18 from noon to 4pm, when the brewery does another collab with Knead Doughnuts. The pop-up event showcases a “beer-inspired doughnut and a doughnut-inspired beer.” Get alla the details at facebook.com/Proclamationale

Cheers and happy T-Day!