Embrace the Rejects: New brewery appears in Newport

Rejects Beer Co. is the newest brewery to hit the Rhode Island beer scene, and they’re welcoming their guests with open arms. Located at 124 Aquidneck Avenue in Newport, Rejects is the newest addition to the up-and-coming Middletown street, and founder Greg Martell says they hope to call it home for many years to come. 

Martell is one of the three founders of the new brewery, along with Justin Pekera and Leigh Kirmil. The trio, along with a group of local partners, formed the company in 2020 with the help of their friend and Philadelphia brewer Andrew Foss. With collective backgrounds in art education, veterinary medicine and entrepreneurship, these ambitious beer barons defeated the odds and opened a business in the midst of a global pandemic; however, their success did not come without setbacks. 

“We all know this thing won’t last forever, and small businesses are a crucial part of our economy, globally and locally,” says Martell. “Some financing tried to bail on us last spring as lenders all got terrified early on when COVID began. Although this has made opening a new business much more challenging, we are happy we stayed the course and are so thankful people have been supporting us now that we are open.” And so are we! 

The goal at Rejects Beer Co. will be to offer a variety of beer styles that will rotate seasonally. “We hope to be known as a small, locally owned institution that can bang out great beers in every style from traditional lagers to hoppy IPAs, sours and more,” says Martell. “Right now we are excited to see our Winter Mole Stout flying off the shelves, but all the beers Justin has made so far are moving, so we hope this trend continues!”

Mole Stout is a dry stout base with cocoa, cinnamon and chipotle pepper, similar to mole in traditional Latin cuisine. Rich brown in color, with a can design depicting a Dia de los Muertos skeleton, this beer is sure to tap into your dark side. 

The name Rejects Beer Co. is a nod to “Reject’s Beach” off Ocean Drive in Newport — a place locals and keen visitors can bike to and skip the astronomical parking fees. “It has always had a laid back, local vibe, and we strive to match that at Rejects,” Martell explains. With a view of Easton’s Pond, away from the uber-touristy chaos on Thames and America’s Cup Ave, the Aquidneck Avenue garage style abode is the perfect haven for peace seekers who just want to kick back with a cold one after a long day of, well, whatever

Rejects Beer Co. passes the vibe check with their devotion to ’80s basement style comfort, complete with a down-to-earth staff and underground music. For extra comfort, they’ve even gone out of their way to create several additional bathrooms, making Rejects #1 in my book.

Hopeful plans for spring and summer are in place; Rejects hopes to host their fair share of festivals and events outside once the pandemic is far behind us. But until then, the taproom is open for can pick-ups and distanced drinking select weekdays and weekends.

Reject’s Beer Co., 124 Aquidneck Ave, Middletown; @rejectsbeerco




Deck the Halls with Wheat & Barley: A beer lover’s guide for the holiday season

Whether you’re checking off your Christmas list or stocking the fridge, here is a complete beer lover’s guide to the holidays that’ll let you shop small and grab your loved ones a local brew paired with some unique gear to match.

Narragansett Beer (Pawtucket): Maroon, olive green and black winter caps are available from Narragansett through a collaboration with Bench Craft, a leather company based in Wilmington, Mass. The hats are adorned with a high-quality leather patch displaying the ‘Gansett logo. Pair this with a good old Narragansett Lager. Nothing says tradition more than a beer that’s been drunk by generations for — count em’ — 130 years!

Twelve Guns (Bristol): Twelve Guns released a limited edition anniversary tee that sports a nautical crest to commemorate their first anniversary. Pair this with their collab with Burgundian waffle, a Cookie Butter Waffle Stout for a sweet gift. 

Coastal Roasters (Tiverton): Not technically beer, but without a doubt the second most important brew. Take a scenic drive through the bay down to Coastal Roasters for your caffeine fix. Grab one of their many delicious bags of coffee by the pound, including their Winter Roast 2020 Santa Barbara. For a gift, you can pair this with one of their new winter hats (released in a collaboration with well-known outdoor brand Carhart). Both will keep you warm all winter long. 

Shaidzon Beer (West Kingston): Treat your tastebuds to something sweet with Shaidzon’s third anniversary Imperial Stout with Vanilla Bean and Organic Ethiopia Sidamo Coffee. Pair with a Shaidzon hoodie or a cozy long-sleeved tee.

Redemption Rock (Worcester, Mass.): Skip the cranberry sauce this year and swap it for Cran You Dig It? a cranberry and cardamom sour from Redemption Rock, our dog-friendly neighbor brewery in Worcester. Wrap up with your pup in a Redemption Rock Fleece Blanket, and ensure your 2021 is better than 2020 with a 2020 Taproom Dogs Calendar. 

Whalers Brewing (Wakefield): Whaler’s 2nd annual coasters game is in full effect for this holiday season. Collect all seven coasters featuring their devoted staff and have a chance to win some great prizes including a $200 dinner anywhere Whaler’s is served. Whether you’re feeling Grinch-y and want to keep the prize for yourself or share with a friend is up to you. 

Cooked Current (Pawtucket): A limited holiday release returns to Crooked Current in growlers and crowlers to-go. An Eggnog Milk Stout is guaranteed to bring you that holly jolly feeling this season. Limited merch is available in the Pawtucket brewery as well.

Sons of Liberty (South Kingston): By popular demand, RI distillery Sons of Liberty has brought back their Honey Chamomile Whiskey just in time for the holidays. Every purchase comes with two hand sanitizer sprays that could make great (and topical) stocking stuffers. Pair it with a Drink Local hoodie from Sons of Liberty. 




Make Mine a Bloody Mary

Rhode Island Spirits collaborated with Ocean State Pepper to launch a Bloody Mary kit, and brunch just got a whole lot better. The kit comes with a bottle of Rhodium vodka, organic dried chiles for a DIY infusion of your favorite level of spiciness and a package of Bloody Mary spice mix.

We talked with Katie Evans, who owns Ocean State Pepper with her husband, Dave Conner, about what makes a great Bloody Mary. “I like a very seasoned, meaty Bloody Mary,” she said. And their horseradish forward spice mix perfectly fits the bill. The dry mix is unique in that it allows Bloody Mary lovers to mix it with their favorite tomato juice. Evans had us longing for summer (already!) when she suggested adding the spice mix to tomatoes blended fresh from the garden.

Cathy Plourde of Rhode Island Spirits got into garnishes with us. “My favorite garnish would probably be shrimp,” she said. Evans, on the other hand, prefers her “meaty Bloody Mary” to be vegetarian. She said, “I love a spicy pickle in a Bloody Mary.”

Spice up brunch with your own Bloody Mary kit by going to rhodeislandspirits.com




Orange is the New Beer Garden: GPub keeps downcity energetic and lively

GPub in Providence is known for their casual eats and nightlife vibes on weekends. Their refined version of pub food served alongside signature cocktails and a slew of craft beer made them a go to spot for nights out in PVD. The ongoing pandemic has made going out options few and far between, but GPub has found a way to safely cater to guests with a brand new outdoor beer garden. With winter approaching, preparations such as heaters, complimentary blankets and low-cost sweatshirts will ensure that the only thing that will be cold at the beer garden is the beer. 

I spoke with Mary Kate Byrne, VP of marketing for GPub, about the new concept. During their fall reopening, Byrne says GPub knew they had to come up with a way to accommodate guests who were increasingly more comfortable with outdoor dining. “Luckily Orange Street is the perfect location for a larger outdoor footprint.” she says. The pub has always had a focus on craft beer, and this has provided the perfect opportunity to fine tune the draft list. “Our craft beer list is really interesting and unique right now. We’ve developed it with the intention of having a lot of options to rotate frequently so we can continue to bring in new items,” says Byrne. 

“We have a lot of great local beer on tap and in cans including Whalers, Shaidzon, Grey Sail, Proclamation, Foolproof and Ragged Island. We also have High Limb Hard Cider for cider fans local to Massachusetts. In addition to these local beers, we’re hoping to introduce our guests to some great craft beer that might be tougher to find around here, like Whole Hog Pumpkin out of Wisconsin, Finch Tacocat from Chicago, Abita Purple Haze from Louisiana and Bell’s Two Hearted from Kalamazoo, among others,” says Byrne. “Our hope is that we can introduce craft beer lovers to something new while still providing their local favorites.”

In regard to the upcoming winter season, G Pub is fully embracing the “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Blanket) concept, and then some. In addition to their fully COVID-compliant indoor seating, G Pub plans to keep outdoor patrons comfortable with complimentary blankets, courtesy of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association, newly installed heaters, live entertainment and of course, great beer. G Pub sweatshirts will also be available at cost, simply so guests have yet another convenient option to stay cozy. 

COVID guidelines have left many of us yearning for normalcy. A meal outside the house has been a huge rarity for some, and with varying levels of comfort, people are in need of a place they can go let loose but also feel safe. “We knew that it was important to respond to this attitude by providing downtown Providence with a comfortable restaurant experience outside through the fall. Being able to bring some life back to downtown is critical right now. Downtown’s success typically relies on the help of business commuters, cultural events and the theaters, and conventions, all things that have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19. We hope that adapting GPub to meet our guests’ current needs will help to add energy and foot traffic to all of downtown,” Byrne adds. 

A Halloween night event is in the works with limited occupancy. G Pub will offer live music, a costume contest and a free drink with any food order if you come in costume. Plans for more live events will continue through the fall and can be found on the G Pub website providencegpub.com/special-events




Everything’s Coming Up Roses: The Guild’s new pop-up beer garden keeps things blooming into fall

Pawtucket brewery The Guild has launched a six-week outdoor beer garden to support Governor Raimondo’s #TakeItOutside initiative. Located in the PVD Innovation District Park (on the far side of the Pedestrian Bridge), The Guild is providing a safe place for friends to gather and drink a brew or two in their socially distanced space. Inspired by the success of Boston’s six-plus beer gardens, cofounder Jeremy Duffy hopes that the project will bring a sense of community to PVD at a time when we need it most.

The six-week pilot program launched September 25 and will run until November 1, with plans to run for a full season in 2021. “With the response from opening weekend, we think it will be a huge hit and another way to activate the park to draw more people to the area,” says Duffy. “I started talking to the I-195 District well over a year ago about the concept. As the park was coming online, the I-195 District decided to put out an RFP [request for proposal] for temporary concessions in the park. We applied and were offered the opportunity to provide a beer garden for the park.” Of course these plans were proposed pre-COVID, hence the six-week pop-up version of the larger concept.

The Guild has also partnered with Ocean State Food Truck Festivals and Smoke & Squeal BBQ in order to provide a full experience for guests. “Visitors will see an array of their favorite food trucks at the beer garden this fall,” says Duffy. Some food trucks associated with Ocean State Food Truck Festivals include Paco’s Tacos, Gastros401 and Axelrod’s Fry Shack; stay tuned on social media to see what eats will be available each weekend.

In true fall fashion, The Guild will be offering their Oktoberfest Festbier and Pumpkin Ale in addition to an array of their most popular beers. The Guild just kicked off their Oktoberfest celebration last week in their tap room in Pawtucket, and although the beer garden wants to keep things simple because of COVID, there may be some Halloween-inspired events in October.

The opportunity to enjoy a beer and socialize with our gorgeous city as the backdrop is a rare one these days, and The Guild is making sure we can do so safely. “The safety and comfort of our customers is the number one priority during this time,” Duffy says. “There is nothing better than when a customer says, ‘Thank you for making me safe and still be a part of a community.’”

The Guild has had a comprehensive plan to handle customers and keep everyone distant and safe at their tap room in Pawtucket, and they are bringing the same philosophy to the beer garden in Providence.

The The Guild PVD Beer Garden is open: Fri, 3 – 6pm; Sat, 1 – 6pm and Sun, Noon – 5pm until November 1. Follow @guildpvd on Instagram for updates on events and food trucks.




How Do You Like Them Apples: Sowam’s Cider Works lets nature take the reins

Warren has quietly become a destination for the forward-thinking foodie. Staples like Square Peg, Chomp and Eli’s Kitchen have put Warren on the map for curious cuisine — and Sowam’s Cider Works doesn’t fall far from the tree.

At the corner of Child and Adams Streets sits a cider tasting room like no other. Beautiful greenery — including two authentic apple trees — adorn the restful patio at Sowam’s Cider Works. Inside, the space has an industrial but inspired feel, with two large functional apple presses and stacks of apple crates from Long Lane Orchard. 

Long Lane Orchard is a three-acre orchard in Touisset where owner Spencer Morris tends to his 800 apple trees. Forty-plus varieties of apples are grown there and offer a vast variety of rotating cider throughout the year. Patience plays a huge role in the process from start to finish. The growing and harvesting alone brings its challenges, and Morris relies on nature to do essentially everything it can, which means the cider produced is 100% natural with no added sulfur and no forced carbonation.

After going in for a tasting I can assure you, this is not your average cider. Commercial ciders pale in comparison to the earthy, almost ethereal taste of this homegrown delicacy. The consistency is closer to wine than some of the more effervescent ciders you may be used to. I had a tasting of their current selection, which included their Wickson, Orchard Blend, Major and Winesap. Each had a unique taste. The Wickson stood out to me with its acidic sweetness, cut with a tart finish. The wickson apple variety originated in Northern California, and it’s a result of the crossbreeding of a crab apple and a table apple, which makes for the perfect cider. 

At any given time, four varieties of cider are available for tastings and to be purchased in bottles. The selections rotate frequently for the prime cider experience at each time of year. Cider batches are numbered and already have surpassed 100 in a short two-year span of business. Morris is grateful to have opened in a pre-COVID world to get his footing, but has also managed to keep things rolling in “the new normal.” The outside patio is comfortably spaced, offering a prime location to get together with a few friends. He encourages guests to bring food from some of the nearby businesses like The Taco Box Trailer and Tom’s Market to make the most out of their experience. He hopes to bring back live music and food collaborations whenever it is possible again. 

In addition to cider, guests can purchase Long Lane Orchard apples from mid-September to January. Follow along on Instagram @sowamsciderworks.




Seltzer Weather: A guide to finding the best seltzer to tickle your taste buds

We all have that crazy aunt who would have one too many wine coolers at the family cookout. A vicious combination of Seagram & Smirnoff always managed to take that 7th birthday party or baptism down a bad path. Well, reality check people — we are the crazy aunts now. And while our behaviors may be questionable, our tastes have evolved. We’ve put down the wine coolers for something with a bit more pizazz. (If your idea of pizazz is a blast of Co2.) 

Spiked seltzer has quickly become the drink of choice for many. Often gluten-free, spiked seltzers also offer fewer carbs, fewer calories and typically low alcohol content, making it the perfect drink for those who like to party but want to avoid packing on the pounds. White Claw is arguably the most popular brand of this new beverage that has taken the drinking community by storm. It offers a variety of flavors from black cherry to mango and rings in at 110 calories. Other large brands also have concocted their own signature version of seltzer including Truly, BON VIV and even domestic beer mogul Budweiser. 

Local breweries are jumping into the seltzer craze, too. While enjoying a socially distant meal at The Patio in East Greenwich, I was approached by Adam Aktchian, a rep of Two Roads Brewing of Stratford, Conn. He offered my boyfriend and me a sample of their newest brew, H2Roads, in a delicious raspberry flavor. He encouraged us to pour the drink over ice to witness its vibrant fruity color, which comes from the real fruit used in the drink. Head brewer Phil Markowski says on the Two Roads website: “We wanted to avoid an artificial flavor from additives and offer an alternative to folks who prefer a natural tasting product. Real fruit was the only way to achieve this. The natural byproduct of real fruit is real color, which all of our seltzers will have.” I can personally vouch that the results are amazing. 

For your drinking pleasure, this guide will help you find the best spiked seltzer for you:

Two Roads – H2Roads 

Flavors: Raspberry, grapefruit, black cherry, cranberry lime

Calories: 100 – 110 

Alcohol % by volume: 4.5%

Available at:

Nikki’s Liquors, 32 Branch St, PVD; Yankee Spirits, 207 Swansea Mall Dr, Swansea, Mass

BON VIV

Flavors: Pear elderflower (new), lemon lime, clementine hibiscus, coconut pineapple, grapefruit, black cherry, mango, cranberry

Calories: 90

Alcohol % by volume: 4.5%

Available: Everywhere

Truly

Flavors: Black cherry, blueberry acai, wild berry, raspberry lime, lime, orange, lemon, grapefruit, passionfruit, pineapple, watermelon kiwi, mango

Calories: 100

Alcohol % by volume: 5%

Available: Everywhere

White Claw

Flavors: Black cherry, lime, grapefruit, mango, raspberry, watermelon, tangerine, lemon

Calories: 100

Alcohol % by volume: 5%

Available: Everywhere

Bud Light Seltzer

Flavors: Black cherry, lemon lime, strawberry, mango

Calories: 100

Alcohol % by volume: 5%

Available: Everywhere




The Four Cs: Courtland Club’s (ice) cream and cocktails

A couple of years ago, the Courtland Club opened on the West Side of Providence, a revamped social club that’s not just for old men anymore. But as its interior is more speakeasy-vibe than luxuriously spaced, they needed to adapt (as every other restaurant and bar) to CoronaTimes.

Their solution was an outdoor window — where the keypad-containing door now remains propped open with a table — through which they serve freshly made cocktails and ice cream to go. Recently, they’ve added five outdoor tables to their quaint backyard, which means you can snag a spot to sit if you time it right. My friend and I happened to get lucky on a Sunday afternoon, and we were taken to a small table in the shade, adorned with a vase of flowers. 

Their menu was put together on an old-fashioned message board, with black and red letters. The list of cocktails contains some of their classic favorites, like the Mother Theresa — and with a garnish of edible gold stars, how could you not love this drink? — and seasonal creations. For example, each month they have a zodiac-inspired cocktail, and even though I visited in my birth month and am proud to be a Cancer, I’m not usually a fan of tequila. Instead, I opted for a Beach Rose Martini, and hot damn, it was perfect. It was like inhaling beach air, in the best possible way. It was served in a small mason jar, and garnishes (like the gold stars for my friend’s Mother Theresa) were given in a small Ziploc bag. 

The ice cream is drool-worthy, and with the heat wave we’ve been experiencing, I was not only drooling but profusely sweating. I couldn’t decide between Piña Colada ice cream and the Strawberry Daiquiri Sorbet, so I decided to do the unthinkable and get a scoop of each. Mixing sorbet and ice cream? Yes. Regrets? None. In fact, I loved the Piña Colada ice cream so much, I got a pint of it before we left. 

If cocktails and ice cream aren’t enough to inspire you, here’s a bonus: Each week they serve a specialty cookie for which 100% of proceeds to go charity (a “dough-nation,” if you will). I’m proud to say I supported the EduLeaders of Color RI, and I will happily eat more cookies if it means I can help more people.

The Courtland Club accepts online orders and table reservations. You might even find a pizza on their menu — the Pizza Of the Week is always worth checking out. Masks are required, because we want to spread love, not germs. The Courtland Club has come a long way since the ’40s, and now the doors are wide open. 

51 Courtland Street, PVD; @courtlandclub; Closed Monday




Explore the Loire: Try one of these summer sippers during your staycation

The Loire Valley wine region starts at the Atlantic Ocean and reaches into central France. It is most famous for Sancerre and Vouvray. While great examples of each exist, for the most part, the most expensive and least interesting wines imported into the US are going to be from these two appellations. Luckily, there are 67 other appellations full of diverse styles of wines to explore at great prices.

The Bubbles

After Champagne, the Loire Valley produces the most sparkling wine in France. These bubbles come in every different style, and you can get a bottle of sparkling white, rosé and red from the Loire for the same price as one bottle of nice Champagne. Sparkling wines from the Loire, like all wines from the region, are not as mainstream in our country. This means two things. It is best to shop at a store specializing in wine to find them, and when you do find them, you can be reasonably sure that the liquid inside is going to be delicious. Some names to look for include Lambert, Louis de Grenelle, Champalou and Domaine Terres Blanche. Huet, from Vouvray, is one of the more famous names (especially for their sweeter still wines). You might also come across some sparkling reds, which are really wild. Domaine Terres Blanche is one example and Chateau de Miniere also makes a really cool red pét-nat.  

The Whites

If forced to drink whites from only one region, I would spend three seconds thinking about it before opting for the Loire. There are so many great wines in so many different styles, mostly from three different grapes: sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and melon de bourgogne. If you find a wine from a different grape, buy it! It’s going to be fun, trust me. The western most part of the Loire is the Muscadet or Nantais region. At one point, most of this region consisted of large areas of machine harvested vines, grown to produce the largest harvest possible. This resulted in flavorless, diluted wines, which some growers then aged on their lees (mostly dead yeast cells) to add texture. Thankfully, a revolution began in which growers started working with organics, hand harvesting and producing smaller yields. This vanguard recently started giving way to the next generation, which are continuing these ideas, but also experimenting with new ideas as well.  Once Muscadet was Muscadet. Now there are 10 Crus within Muscadet, highlighting different soil types and terroir. Muscadet is a wonderful region, making white wines that can age for years. They are crisp, minerally, often even a little briney — the perfect foil for our shellfish. They are also comically undervalued as compared to the appellations of Chablis and Sancerre, with which they share certain characteristics. Names to look for include Eric Chevalier, Jo Landron, Pepiere, Luneau-Papin, Michel Caillot, Domaine des Cognettes, Michel Delhommeau and so many more.  Once you’ve explored melon de bourgogne a bit, reach out for the other wines of the region. A good start is Jean Aubron’s Folle Blanche, a steal for under $15.

What about chenin blanc? You can find chenin from the Loire dry and bright, rich and full bodied, and sweet and succulent. It’s amazing what this grape does in different regions. Skip Vouvray and look for wines from Saumur, Anjou and Savennieres (a little pricey). These are underrepresented appellations, and many of the winemakers are very small, so the best bet is to ask your local wine merchant for recommendations, or better yet, have her choose a few different styles for you to explore.  

Sauvignon blanc gets all the love. Many people today equate the Loire Valley with Sancerre. It’s true that some of the great sauvignon blancs of the world come from Sancerre, but it’s also true that the United States is awash with mediocre Sancerre, usually selling for $30 or more. Unless someone needs to be impressed, your best bets are to explore the wider Touraine region. For under $20, and often more like $15, there are sauvignon blancs full of bright acidity and crisp citrus fruit. Henri Bourgeois, a Sancerre producer, makes a $15 petit sauvignon blanc that is delicious. However, there are many more like Les Deux Moulins, Domaine L’Aumonier and La Chapiniere, among others.  

The Reds

Cabernet franc is king in the Loire. Whether you are drinking from the appellations Anjou, Saumur or Chinon, you are drinking cabernet franc.  With its red berry fruit and crunchy texture, these wines are all perfect for the summer. With climate change, you can even find wines big enough to pair with a steak. Look for gamay as well. Often labeled with a Touraine or even Vin de Pay designation, gamay from the Loire often showcases peppercorn and bright red berries. It can usually be served with just the slightest chill. If you see a wine from the grapes grolleau, pineau d’aunis or others, be sure to grab them. They make fascinating bright, light wines. You might even find pinot noir. Two of my favorite pinot noirs on either end of the spectrum are both from the Loire Valley. Jean Francois Merieau’s Les Hexagonales is easy and delicious at $16, while Claude Riffault’s version from Sancerre is savory, elegant and beautiful at $40.

What about rosé? The Loire valley makes plenty of that, too. Most tend to be brighter and more focused then the Provence style that is so in. They are, for the most part, can’t miss, especially for anyone looking for a different type of rosé. Like most wines from the Loire, they are terrific with food. So get out there, and start exploring this amazing region before everyone else finds out how great the wines are!




Traitorade: The brew that gives a whole new meaning to sour beer

It could be argued that NOTHING has been the same since Tom Brady made his infamous move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New England fans have been sour since Brady signed to the Florida team back in March, and Smug Brewing of Pawtucket has released a beer that perfectly encapsulates their feelings. 

Traitorade is the latest 7% ABV Key Lime Sour beer from Smug. The flavor profile is sour with a hint of saltiness, derived from Florida’s key limes. Of course this hilarious creation pokes direct fun at the former Patriots players (including Rob Gronkowski, who also signed to the Tampa team in April); however, the brewery notes on their Instagram account: “Remember, it is just a joke. We love our former Patriots players.”

Every New Englander has to hang it up and retire to Florida sometime, right? 

Traitorade is available to order for pick up at smugbrewing.com