New brews from Foolproof and Grey Sail, and the obligatory Super Bowl item

Football-DraftWe’ve assembled a few brief items, while working the beer list for the [sold out!] Rhode Island Brew Fest and trying to figure out how to sample a third [half? a quarter?] of the 225-plus pours [full disclosure: we’re looking into cloning but don’t think we can get that done by Saturday . . .].

On Monday, as a pre-Juno treat, Foolproof did a sneak peek of its new Valentine-themed release, Shuckolate, the chocolate-oyster stout was made with Garrison Confections and Walrus and Carpenter Oysters. If you didn’t get there on the 26th, you can try it this weekend at the brewery [241 Grotto Ave, Pawtucket; today 5-7 pm, Saturday 1-5; $10 includes three samples and a glass] and at the Brew Fest on Saturday. Bombers and draft starts shipping on Monday.

Grey Sail [63 Canal St, Westerly] encourages you to challenge your palate in their tasting room this weekend [today 3-6 pm, Sat & Sun 1-5]. They have Guess the Hop DIPA; a Smoked Porter with ? [the first person to ID the mystery ingredient gets a free growler fill]; and they’re debuting “I’m In Love with the Cacao” Stout. There are other treats on hand, too. And they’ll be at the Brew Fest, natch.

And here’s the obligatory Super Bowl entry: USA Today says more than 50 million cases of beer will be consumed in the US during the Big Game. Forbes offers these factoids: “The 325 million gallons of beer that will be drunk during Super Bowl XLIX Sunday is more than a gallon per person in the United States. Almost as much as the amount of water that will flow over Niagara Falls during Katy Perry’s halftime songs.” [Men’s Fitness has a few reasons why you should not drink a gallon of beer during the Super Bowl: “Assuming you consume the brewskis over a 5-hour span, (a) 185-pound man’s BAC would be .135 – legally unable to drive, physically unable to do just about anything besides sing loudly and take a nap on the couch.”]

So try to stay on the responsible side of a gallon — pace yourself and delve into the suddenly-ubiquitous session brews from the what-are-we-calling-them-now-since-we’re-not-supposed-to-use-the-word-“craft”-right? beerists. There are great and flavorful and below 5% ABV offerings from Founders [All Day IPA — a bargain in 15-packs], Heavy Seas [the new CrossBones], the classic Anchor Steam, 21st Amendment’s Bitter American, Goose Island’s Honkers Ale, Firestone Walker’s Pale 31, locals Foolproof [Barstool] and Grey Sail [Flagship Ale], and many more.

Or just open one bottle of Dogfish Head’s Raison D’Extra, and nurse that 18% ABV Belgian-style strong brown ale [brewed with raisins and brown sugar] from pre-game to trophy presentation…

Local winners in RateBeer’s Best of 2014, and more

rbbest-2015A few random notes and reads…

RateBeer has been rolling out its Best Awards for 2014, with lists of Top New Brewers, Best Beers In the World, and more. The results were calculated from scores posted by the site’s reviewers; two more lists are will be revealed on Thursday and Friday.

In the Best Places for Beer by Subregion category, three Rhode Island establishments took top honors: Julian’s [restaurant], Nikki’s [bottle shop], and Track 84 [bar]. [A brewpub winner was not included; brewer tap room and grocery don’t apply in RI.]

And in Top Beers, Brewers, New Brewers by Subregion, Foolproof’s Raincloud Porter was cited as top beer and Narragansett as top brewer [there was no entry for best new brewer].

Fresh beer: Rev up the sled and head to Exeter to get growler fills and tastings at Tilted Barn Brewery. They’ll have Half-Mile IPA and Winter Sol [a brown ale] for your sipping and purchasing pleasure.

And two diverse reads, if you have more Juno-related time to kill today:

How Great Divide and Sam Adams Decided Not To Fight Over the Whitewater Beer Name, by Jonathan Shikes @ Westword [“ ‘We’d always rather work together with a fellow craft brewer to come to an amicable solution and we were both able to do so here in a spirit of good will.’ ”]

And in case you missed it, the times they have a-really-changed: Bob Dylan Does the American Standards His Way, an exclusive interview by Robert Love from AARP The Magazine [“ ‘I don’t work at Rolling Stone anymore,’ I told them, thinking it was a case of crossed wires, since I put in 20 years there. No, they said, there’s no mistake; he wants to talk to your readers.”]

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The Rhode Island Brew Fest: By the numbers

We were happy to see the Rhode Island Brew Fest release its beer list a few hours ago. It gave us the opportunity to break it down, and an excuse to put off heading outside with the shovel…

Sixty breweries [including three ciderists and one meadery] will share 228 different samples of liquid goodness at the Pawtucket Armory on Saturday, January 31. [See below for a few notable new releases; we cited other highlights  in our January 13 entry on the Fest.]

Fourteen of the Ocean State’s 16 breweries will be representing, pouring 57 varieties. Here are the details, with styles added when they’re not part of the beer’s name on the #RIBrew beer list — extra value from the Bottles & Cans desk!:

Brutopia: Never Ender [IPA], Valhalla [amber ale], First Coast [Belgian double IPA], Munk [Belgian-style abbey ale]

Bucket Brewery: 9 Men’s Misery [IPA], Park Loop Porter

Crooked Current: Kickback American Wheat, Immortality Pale Ale

Foolproof: Barstool Golden Ale, Backyahd IPA, La Ferme Urbaine Farmhouse Ale, Shuckolate Stout, Raincloud [Robust Porter], Revery Imperial Stout

Grey Sail: Captain’s Daughter [double IPA]; Leaning Chimney [smoked porter], Flying Jenny [extra pale ale], Maryanne’s Ginger [spice ale], Flagship [cream ale]

Narragansett: Lager, Light, Coffee Milk Stout, Lovecraft Honey Ale

Newport Storm: Hurricane Amber Ale, RI Blueberry, India Point Ale, Winter Porter, Spring Irish Red Ale

Proclamation Ale: Tendril [“not quite an imperial IPA”], Derivative [American pale ale], Anniversary [Belgian dark strong ale with plums; some details from brewer Dave Witham: “The keg I am bringing to the RI Brew Fest is the base beer. It’s the only keg I have of it, because the rest of the beer got put into whisky and bourbon barrels at the brewery. 2 whiskey barrels full are aging and 1 bourbon barrel with brett and another 40 lbs of plums”], Harper [sour beer with apricots], Plattelander [saison]

Ravenous: Blackstone Pale Ale, Bienvenu Red Ale, Coffee Milk Stout

Revival: Fanny Session IPA, Conga [imperial IPA], Burnside Pale Ale, White Electric Coffee Stout, Elder Strong Cocoa Stout, Zeppelin [Hefeweizen ale]

Tilted Barn: Half-Mile IPA, First Harvest Pale Ale, Raffi Coffee Oatmeal Stout, Winter Sol [brown ale]

Trinity Brewhouse: Barleywine, Russian Stout, IPA, Gingerbread Man, Tommy’s Red, Scotch Ale

Union Station: Citra Big Ass Down [IPA], Providence Pale Ale

Whaler’s: American Strong Ale, Hazelnut Stout, White IPA

Of the 171 offerings at the New England/national tables, there are some new entries: you can get a first taste of session brews from Oskar Blues [Pinner Throwback IPA], Green Flash [Jibe], and Heavy Seas [CrossBones]; take a virtual getaway from the snow with Baxter’s Window Seat, a new seasonal porter made with coconut and almond; Sierra Nevada will showcase its new Nooner Pilsner and one-time-only Hoppy Lager; and Founders will unleash its Black Rye. You can see the complete list here; it notes that beers are subject to change. And that’s true, here’s a change now: Stone will bring Enjoy by 2.14.15 and Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean to vie for your attention with Bourbon Barrel-Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale and Double Bastard. And check out the floor plan too.

Even with unlimited — and responsible — sippling, you can only sample about one-seventh of the tantalizing treats [our math is based on 32 two-ounce pours, aka four pints; your mileage may vary]. So plan ahead. Work the list! [And designate that driver, and/or take advantage of the Brew Fest’s Uber offer].

As we said two weeks ago: The Rhode Island Brew Fest is a  very welcome winter warmer — the Big Beer Event to circle on your calendar during these cold, cold [and now snow-caked] months. You can enjoy the bounty of local brews and chat with their creators! Compare notes and swap ale tales with fellow beerists!! Discover a few new favorite brews to enjoy year-round!! Wear pretzel necklaces!!! Huzzah!!!!

Today around noon @RIBrewFest tweeted, “Get your tickets to session two ASAP. Only a handful remain.” There were at least 10 left when we hit “Publish” at 3:44 pm… Get ’em here!

Waiting for Juno: it’s just beer; Wade Boggs; and beer cans turn 80

We hope to have some big beer news this week, though it may be delayed due to our new best friend Juno. In the meantime, enjoy these beer reads before the power goes out…

“A Single Word: The Case For Beer,” by John Holl at All About Beer, is the latest musing on the use of the phrase “craft beer.” Holl concludes: “[W]e’re just going to call it beer.” In the September/October 2014 issue of Imbibe magazine, Joshua M. Bernstein concludes, “Call it craft. Call it crafty. Or maybe, just maybe, simply call it beer.” Bernstein’s piece delves deeper into the history and business side of the discussion.

Craft beer fans go to great lengths to buy top-rated brew, by Nestor Ramos @ The Boston Globe [“On Craigslist in Boston, a case was selling for $250 — each four-pack of cans costing nearly as much as a barrel of crude oil.”]

Did you see the season premiere of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia? In “The Gang Beats Boggs,” the gang competed to match Wade Boggs’ record for prodigious beer consumption on an airplane. Here’s some background re: Boggs’s legendary suds intake, by David Laurila from

“In 2001, [Brian] Rose [(who) had a nondescript career, winning just 15 games over parts of five seasons. Before hurting his arm, he was Boston’s top pitching prospect] was ‘all fired up’ when he was claimed off waivers by the Devil Rays. ‘Not because I was going to Tampa,’ explained Rose, ‘but because Wade Boggs was a coach there. He was my idol growing up.’

“Rose soon learned that Boggs could put away cold ones like nobody else.

“ ‘I was sitting next to him on a plane and a flight attendant came by and gave him a case of beer,’ said Rose. ‘He slid it under the seat and I was like, “What’s up with that? We only have an hour flight.” He said, ‘That’s mine.’

“ ‘The whole flight, we were just shooting the shit, and he went one beer after the other. I said to him, “I’m impressed with the way you hit, but I’m more impressed right now.” He goes, “Yeah, beer doesn’t affect me. I don’t get drunk unless I’ve had at least a case and a half.” I don’t think he even went to the bathroom.’ ”

And this, from’s “Extra Mustard”: “Wade Boggs told Charlie Day he once drank 107 beers in a day”

14 clever ways to open a beer bottle in a pinch, by Christine Erickson @ Mashable

And, in case you missed it, Saturday was the 80th anniversary of the day that “the first cans of Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company beer went on sale in Richmond, Virginia.” Read more at

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The Gandhi-Bot flap: New England Brewing Co. agrees to name change

On January 18, we posted an update on the Gandhi-Bot controversy, noting that Connecticut State Representative Prasad Srinivasan was planning to meet with the brain trust at New England Brewing Co. “I think they must take it one more level — to reconsider and rename that brand of beer,” Srinivasan said. “ I find it despicable that they should use the name of Mahatma Gandhi.”

On Friday [1.23],  this entry appeared on Srinivasan’s website:

New England Brewing Co. agrees to rename “Gandhi-Bot” beer

Dear friends and neighbors,
I am very glad that New England Brewing Co. heard the concerns of the Indian-American community. Our sensitivity on this important issue has been addressed and I am looking forward to the early release of their renamed and re-branded product. Please view their response below:
Over the course of the last few weeks, New England Brewing has met with local Indo-American business owners, temple, and community leaders, as well as with State Representative Prasad Srinivasan and other state leaders. We learned of their support for our small business as well as some of their concerns regarding our Gandhi-Bot beer name and label. After careful consideration we feel that renaming Gandhi-Bot is the right move (the beer will remain the same). We have begun the process of renaming and rebranding this beer which may take up to three months. Taking these steps will allow us to express our support for the Indian-American community while also limiting any economic losses. We are grateful to have State Representative Srinivasan’s support in the continued success of our small CT business. We thank our supporters for standing by us through this transition.
New England Brewing Co.
Woodbridge, Connecticut

The statement from NEBCO has not been posted on their Facebook page, which is where news of the flap came to light when they made their first statement on January 3.

Any suggestions for a new name? Post ’em here, and we’ll forward them to NEBCO.

Two girls, one history of Rhode Island beer

RIBeerWe do our best at the Bottles & Cans desk to bring you all things beer ’round here, but you should also spend some time at Two Girls, One Beer, the blog by Ashleigh Bennett and Kristie Martin. It’s a great source for brew reviews, events, and more [they’ve been at it since October 2011]. A few days into the New Year, we contacted the dynamic duo about their forthcoming book, Rhode Island Beer: Ocean State History On Tap, to be published on March 30 by The History Press as part of their American Palate Series, which focuses on regional beer lore. Now that the book can be pre-ordered at Amazon, we’ll share what they told us so you can get your palate whetted, follow the link, and boost its Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

It is essentially part historical guide, part modern day brewery tour guide. It begins with the history of brewing in Rhode Island, dating as far back as the 1600s, covering the booming beer business throughout the 1800s, and also going into how Rhode Islanders and their breweries dealt with Prohibition.

Each currently operating brewery and brewpub in the state gets their own chapter, even the newest arrivals like Tilted Barn and Crooked Current. We give their stories — the beginnings, everyone’s unique approach to brewing, and descriptions of their available beers. We tried to make it as up-to-date as possible, but you know how hard that is, with the brewery landscape here changing every day.

We finish off the book with chapters of recipes made with local beers, and a guide to our favorite bars and bottle shops.

Oh and Sean Larkin wrote the foreword!

We’ll have more info about the release and any events we’ll be doing in the next few months, so will definitely keep you posted.

The launch parties for Rhode Island Beer will be big fun. When spring rolls around, we’ll let you know where to meet-and-greet and get your books signed by Ashleigh and Kristie.

On Thursday, the folks at the Rhode Island Brew Fest tweeted, “Just a few dozen tickets left!” for the January 31 event. They’ll likely sell out today, so whatareyouwaitingfor?

If you already have your Brew Fest tix but are ready for a twist on this week’s Bottles & Cans mantra — “So many beers, so much time [and money]” — then head to Boston for the Beer Summit Winter Jubilee, which is happening tonight [6-9:30 pm, $45] and on Saturday [12:30-4 and 5:30-9 pm, $55 each] at the Park Plaza Castle. Here’s the list of brewers [with our locals in bold]: Aeronaut Brewing, Angry Orchard, Backlash, Bad Martha, Ballantine, Banner, Bay State, Berkshire, Blue Point, Brooklyn, Boulder, Boulevard, Cape Ann, City Steam, Clown Shoes, Dinkelacker, Downeast Cider, Duvel, Finch, Foolproof, Global Beer, Grey Sail, Harpoon, Henniker, Hofbrau, Ireland On the Road, John Harvard’s Brewery, Kennebec River, Lagunitas, Lexington, Mayflower, McKenzie’s Cider, Narragansett, Naukabout, Olde Burnside, Opa Opa, Paper City, Revival, Rickers Hard Cider, Riverwalk, Sam Adams, Sapporo, Saranac, Sebago, Shmaltz, Sixpoint, Stiegl, Tennents, 3 Beards, Trinity Brewhouse, Two Roads, VT Hard Cider, and Woodstock Inn. The castle is a fun and funky venue, and the Beer Summit is always a great time.

And if you’re really planning waaaay ahead, the 9th Annual Great International Spring Beer Festival will take place on Saturday, April 25 [1-4:30 and 6:30-10 pm]. Tix [$49 + $5.90 fees] are on sale now at Ticketmaster [you need a code — SPRING — for the “presale” which runs through Sunday at midnight, but there’s no discount so . . .].

Throwback Thursday: The half-pour [less is more]

Half-PourTo continue the theme of this week’s mantra — “So many beers, so little time [and money]” — we dug into the [very recent] Bottles & Cans archives [9.12.14] for this item:

We’d like to make a modest proposal that our better beer bars offer half-pours. With so many places boasting so many options, the five/six/eight-ounce glass [depending on the ABV] facilitates more diverse sipping and new-beer-trying [and a slight up-charge for the optional size is a plus for the proprietors]. We first encountered the half-pour option at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, VT, and have been pining for it to catch on ’round here ever since.

Since we shared those words, those “so many options” have grown larger and more dizzying every week. The embarrassment of liquid riches is overwhelming! Repeat the mantra!

We know of one place that has half-pours on the menu: Julians on Broadway in Providence. But there must be other establishments that have introduced the joys of small sampling. We can’t think of a downside for the bars — except, perhaps, an investment in new glassware, since pouring a half-full glass is aesthetically unpleasing. If you know of a better beer bar that has ’em, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. We’d also like to hear from barkeeps about why half-pours aren’t necessarily a good idea. And, as always, we encourage feedback from everyone who reads the work from the Bottles & Cans desk.

We’re also a big fan of flights, of course; we’ve enjoyed ’em at Track 84, the Malted Barley, Miller’s Crossing, Stevie D’s in Cumberland [six seven-ounce servings — for $15!], and elsewhere. But we really wish they were available at Doherty’s Ale House in Warwick, which has 123 beers on tap as we type. The beer list at their Irish Pub in Pawtucket states, “We know with 85 [yes, that’s right, 85] choices in draft it is sometimes hard to decide.” So true! And it’s even harder to decide with 50 percent more beers on tap at Jefferson Blvd! Bring on the paddles!!

And of course, there are so many more options every day, ready for sampling at a tap near you: say hello to Sam Adams’ Rebel Rider, a session IPA [4.5% ABV]; Southern Tier’s 2xPRESSO [7.5%], a double milk stout made with coffee beans and lemon peels; and Otter Creek’s Citra Mantra [5.75%], Brewmaster Mike’s great spring seasonal single-hopped with its floral flower that gives it its name. We’d like half half-pours of each, please….