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Giving Thanks to A Creative Brewer: A crooked holiday

Thanksgiving is a time where we look back and reflect on what we are grateful for.

I admit that I am often in thoughts of my blessings. The craft beer community has contributed largely to that. I have met a lot of amazing people over the years and many who have become part of what I consider my beer family. 

Around this time of year about eight years ago, I walked through the doors of a newly opened brewery called Crooked Current. I remember being immediately greeted by Nichole Pelletier, owner and brewer, and Jason Lourenco, assistant brewer. It was a complete beer geek moment for me to meet my first female brewer. Nichole and Jason were friendly and personable. The atmosphere of the brewery was inviting and comfortable. Nichole explained that she loved cooking and that is how her passion for brewing started. She mentioned to Jason (who is her husband today) one day that she would like to brew for a living and he fully supported this idea.

“I am thankful for my husband, my partner in business and in life, without whom Crooked Current would come to a screeching halt and would never exist in the first place. His role is behind the scenes and therefore he doesn’t get the same recognition as I do. It was his belief in my ability that inspired the creation of this business and I am thankful everyday for his faith in me.”

The brewery had a wall painted with the Crooked Current logo and a picture of “Rosie the Riveter” from World War II saying, “We Can Do It.” I remember thinking that described Nichole completely. She made a career change to follow her heart and what she enjoyed doing. Nichole summarized this for me by saying, “To anyone following their passion, I’d say congrats on figuring out what your true passion is: Many never do and it took me years of soul searching to discover mine!” 

Over the years I frequented Crooked Current with family, friends, and significant others. I held surprise birthday parties there and pre holiday celebrations. 

Eight years later, I walk through the doors of the brewery and I am once again greeted by Nichole, and I feel as if I am meeting an old friend. The atmosphere is still cozy and welcoming. Nichole has decorated the brewery with a fall and Halloween theme. The beers also reflect this seasonal vibe. Nichole explained to me that she puts a lot of creative thought into her beers. Nichole stated that she was able to focus on creating new craft beers during COVID. “I was able to focus on a couple of recipes that I previously did not have time to do.” Nicole comes up with ideas based on foods that she has tasted and flavors she likes.

Two of these beers created during COVID were available on draft when this article was written, “Cherry Pie Golden Ale” and “Maple Pumpkin Ale. Nichole also had two beers available she calls her “witches brews,” “Amuck IPA,” and “Black Flame IPA.”

I ordered a flight of all four plus the “White Stout,” and took a seat outside on the benches that are available. I couldn’t help but think of Thanksgiving when I took a sip of the Maple Pumpkin Ale recently infused with coffee. It poured a hazy amber color with thick lacing. The aroma was of maple syrup layered with a strong coffee flavor that followed through to the palate. Coffee flavor dominated through to the back bone with a slight touch of pumpkin on the front end. As this ale warmed, sweet flavors of pumpkin puree added came through, layering throughout each sip. 

The “Cherry Pie Golden Ale” was next up. It pours a hazy amber hue. This ale presents with a slight cherry taste on the front end and a delicious malt and cherry backbone. This ale, made with real cherries, was not overly sweet and could be easily paired with dessert. 

I am not sure if you have ever had a white stout, but you need to. This “White Stout” poured an amber hue. Coffee is present on the nose and there are sweet coffee flavors on the front end and bitter flavors of coffee on the back bone.

Next up were the witches’ brews. The “Amuck IPA” poured a hazy honey flavor with a non-retentive head. There is an aroma of tea on the nose as well as the palate. There is a slight touch of honey at the backbone. This can be described as sweet tea, but the beer version. The “Amuck” is made with green Matcha Powder, ground green tea leaves.

My last beer out of my flight sample and my favorite was the “Black Flame IPA.” Purple potion-like pour, grape in color, this IPA had thin-rimmed head retention and waterfall lacing. On the nose there are aromas of grape and malt. This is also true of the palate. The flavor was sweet with a touch of acidity, comparable to a white wine. As the beer warmed, malt dominated and the sweet grape fell slightly into the backbone.This was made with Butterfly Pea Powder which is blue but when brewed turns purple due to the PH level change.  

Both Butterfly Pea Powder and Matcha Powder have antioxidants, flavonoids,and peptides. This means you are potentially drinking to your health as these have beneficial properties for your hair and skin, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. If that doesn’t make you spellbound I don’t know what will.

What creative craft beers do we have to look forward to? Nichole explained to me that she was adding a scorpion pepper to her Mexican Chocolate Stout. This was inspired by the Day of the Dead as well as Scorpio season. Nichole plans on transitioning this chocolate stout to a seasonal Peppermint Mocha Mint Stout. Yum! Think that’s all? Thanksgiving eve Nichole will be releasing her EggNog Stout. Before this she will be pouring her second year collaboration with Linesider brewing. Nichole explained that it was their take on fruit cake but with a higher ABV than last year. “It has been aged since June in Newport Distillery barrels.”

I know what I will be bringing for “dessert” to holiday house parties!  

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I asked Nichole what she was thankful for professionally. “… I know this is going to sound cliché, but it just can not be stressed enough: I am extremely grateful for the customers. I do my absolute best with each person that walks through our door to make them truly feel my gratitude – and I can only hope it shows. They kept us afloat during a worldwide pandemic and they continue to support us with even more options on the market than ever before, and not one day will go by that we ever take their support for granted”.

Nichole is truly creative and puts thought and time into her crafted beers. The beer she crafts is flavorful and made with real ingredients that can not be compared with hop-forward beers. If you are looking for less hops and beer that is light and refreshing, this is the brewery for you! Crooked Current won a Motif drink award for her Neapolitan Brown Ale for favorite Reds and Browns.

As I left Crooked Current Brewing I saw that the World War II picture of “Rosie the Riveter” is still on display. I look at it and it summarizes my exact thoughts of empowerment and female patriotism. In a male dominated craft, Nichole continues to be successful and stands out among other breweries for following her creative style. Nichole is truly an inspiration and for that I am grateful! Thank you and cheers, Nichole.

Crooked Current Brewery is at 560 Mineral Spring Ave, Pawtucket

They are open Thursday and Friday 5 – 8pm and Saturday 1 – 5pm.

There are three beers on tap and more to choose from to go. There are usually pop-up food trucks available with seating inside and outside.

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