I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with me. Maybe it’s because I had an Imperial Pilsner back to back with a Russian Imperial Stout, or maybe it’s because The Hunt for Red October was on, or maybe I’m just stupid, but it’s called VLAD!! It’s the Newport Storm Vlad. That’s the beer I was talking about. It may be the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my time here, but the Vlad is the Russian Imperial Stout I was talking about in my last column (and erroneously called, “Ivan”). Now if you’ll excuse me I have to bury my head in the sand.
Narragansett Imperial IPA – It seems a novel concept to make a cheap domestic pilsner as your flagship and then try to churn out decent craft beers on the side, but damn if they don’t seem to give it a go. This ebullient brew first caught my attention when I realized it was winter outside, but someone had just put out a new IPA. Seasonal styles be damned, I guess. Normally these hoppy behemoths are released during warmer weather. So, I bagged a bottle, brought it home, and gave it a try. This may be the only winter IPA in existence that isn’t the new bastard child style ‘Black IPA.’ Each sip brings up reminders of pine-fresh, evergreen delight from the selection of hops, and the Imperial nature lends a certain warmth to the bones after the first half of the bottle. If you’re a fan of IPAs or you’re just looking for that pine-fresh taste and don’t feel like drinking floor cleaner, pick up an aromatic, flavorful IPA instead and warm yourself by the television.
Stone Lukcy Basartd – Speaking of bastard children, Stone has a lot of them. Not to say that it’s promiscuous; rather, that it calls a lot of its brews a name that implies an illegitimate father – Arrogant Bastard, Double Bastard, Oaked Arrogant Bastard, and now Lukcy Basartd. That’s not a typo, that’s how it’s spelled on the bottle. Each one is a delicious IPA-type brew with enough character to justify its unusual name. In this instance, it’s spelled Lukcy 13asartd, which I suppose is an attempt to drive dyslexics insane. Actually, it’s because this is the 13th anniversary of the original Arrogant Bastard, so enjoy this as your new beer of 2013! This brew is a blend of all three previous bastards, which I suppose makes it a bit inbred, possibly why the name is written like autocorrect got drunk. The flavors of the Bastards that came before are all present within the brew, though I sense the OAB may have lost a little of its aged maturity in the mix. No matter – this brew really is the best of the three, and I highly recommend giving it a try if you’re a fan of any of its predecessors.
Finally, the piece de resistance, there’s another new beer festival in our humble Ocean State. The Rhode Island Brew Fest, sponsored by Narragansett, the Craft Beer Guild, the Rhode Island Brewing Society, and others, is a new festival that includes mostly small names from all over New England. The list includes old established brews from Wolavers, Narragansett, Brooklyn, and Lagunitas, as well as the new kids on the bar, Bucket Brewing, Ravenous Brewing, and Revival. Also look out for Cape Ann Brewing, Berkshire Brewing, Sixpoint, Magic Hat, Otter Creek … the list goes on. There aren’t many of the bigger microbrews, which makes this festival a little different. No Harpoon or Sierra Nevada, no Boston Beer Co. – this is about the little guys … I think. It’s a bit iffy with Magic Hat being owned by North American Breweries, Inc., but they make a fantastic stout, so we’ll let it slide for now.
Anyway, this fest will be sprawled within the Pawtucket Armory, a roomy joint well-suited to accommodate a crowd of beer nerds like myself, on February 2. Moreover, they’ll feature live music, food, and a complimentary pint glass.
There’s two kinds of tickets in this festival … okay, three kinds. There’s a designated driver ticket, which can be bought with a regular ticket so you can have a safe ride home. There’s a general admission, which features unlimited sampling and a pint glass, and then there’s the limited VIP ticket that gives you all of that, plus free food, special beers to sample, and a T-shirt.
If you’d like to learn more, since I’m sure I haven’t taught you people anything, you can check out their website at www.ribrewfest.com, or just go show up and see what happens.