Grey Sail’s new Great Ketch; Brutopia’s birthday; craft beer’s identity crisis; and more

Grey-Sail-logo-231x300We had some words prepped, but they’re stuck in the other B&C hard drive, which is being held hostage by the Windows 8.1 “We couldn’t complete the updates / Undoing changes / Don’t turn off your computer” circle of Hell [110 minutes and counting; we doltishly didn’t send ourselves a backup file]. So we sought alternate routes for this Tearing-Our-Hair-Out Thursday grab bag…including some this-just-in breaking news! Spirits suddenly soaring at the B&C desk!

On April 7, we reported that Grey Sail’s 3rd Anniversary, an Imperial India Pale Lager that was brewed to commemorate their third birthday, was a huge hit and would become a limited year-round offering, with a name and release date TBA. We’re pleased to announce that the brew will be called Great Ketch Imperial IPL [8% ABV]. It’s an outstanding take on the hybrid style, which combines the smoothness of the lagering process with the waves of flavor from Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops. Great Ketch will be in four-packs of 12-ounce cans and on draft, and fingers are crossed for a June release. And be on the lookout for the new six-packs of Pour Judgement IPA! Grey Sail is cranking 24/7!

In preparation for the Dogfish Head Tap Takeover that starts at Norey’s on Friday, all draft beers are half-price tonight [4.30] only from 4 pm until 1 am.

Brutopia kicks off its One Year Anniversary bash on Saturday [5.2]. Go here for details on the eight-day extravaganza, including a pig roast on Sunday and a Masters Brewers Meeting and Tasting, with guest beers and specials for Mug Club members, on May 8.

We usually save the beer-read-links for Saturday, but we’ll share this one today: “Why Craft Beer Will Be Almost Unrecognizable by the Year 2020,” by Jason Notte @ Main St. [Did you know that Founders lost its membership in the craft beer-defining — and re-defining — Brewers Association because it sold a 30% stake to a Spanish brewery?]

Meanwhile, in other “craft” “news”:

We’re going to post a Letterman clip every day through May 20. This one features another of B&C’s pop culture faves, the Hold Steady. [We were just out of the frame when Whiskey Daisy was being asked about the relative sexiness of musicians and comedians; early on in the NBC days, the top of our head was visible during a quick pan of the audience. Alas, we can’t find that memorable moment on YouTube…]

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Celebrate 20 years of Dogfish Head at Norey’s; Revival’s new brew; and more

20coaster-1It’s our 150th post! The time, it flies! We’re not marking the latest Big Number with a beer giveaway [as we did for our 100th], but we will give you a few news items and edifying links:

 Norey’s, the stellar restaurant/beer bar on Broadway in Newport, has been Tap Takeover Central lately, with events featuring Mikkeller and Trappist beers. But you ain’t seen nothing yet: a Total Tap Takeover is kicking off on Friday [5.1], to commemorate two decades of Dogfish Head’s “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” The Milton, Delaware-based brewery debuted in June 1995 with Shelter Pale Ale and has concocted dozens of classic and boundary-pushing brews [they’ll release a 20th anniversary beer in September]. There will be other local celebrations in the coming months, but the Norey’s bash is setting a very high bar, with 20 beers available for your Dogfish-toasting pleasure [go here for descriptions of all of the offerings]:

Aprihop  60 Minute IPA  Sixty One Minute IPA  90 Minute IPA  120 Minute IPA  Burton Baton  Palo Santo Maron  Indian Brown Ale  Namaste  Piercing Pils  Black & Blue  Noble Rot  Midas Touch  Birra Etrusca Bronze  Chateau Jiahu  Kvasir  Rosabi  Olde School Barley Wine  Raison D’Extra  AND Randall the Enamel Animal, an “organoleptic hop transducer module” [aka a double-chambered device that infuses multi-flavored enhancements as the beer is delivered to your glass] will be the 20th!!

The beers will start flowing at 4 pm [Norey’s is open Monday through Saturday from 4 pm to 1 am] and will be pouring until the kegs kick [some will likely still be in action on May 8 and 9 during the Newport Craft Beer Festival sessions]. Cheers to Sam Calagione’s 20 years of innovative beers!

Night_swim Revival Brewing Co.’s newest creation, Night Swim’ah, is making its way to better beer bars all over the state. The Belgian-style wheat ale is a light delight and will be a perfect sum’ah sipper. And down the road apiece, Revival hopes to have four-packs of White Electric Coffee Stout in stores by Memorial Day.

 The day after Bell’s Brewery finished third in the B&C “What brewery would you most like to see in the Rhode Island market?” poll, they announced a $50 million expansion which will raise their capacity to 1 million barrels. Coincidence? We think not…And this just in: we received a note from Luke Hutchings, Bell’s Brand Ambassador: “It is great to hear that people in Rhode Island are fans of Bell’s! I will be sure to share this with members of our team!” We’ll let you know when the team is ready to share their beers with the people of Rhode Island…

 We’ve been watching David Letterman’s home stretch [and digging into some highlights from the NBC days — ever see the 360-degree show? or the helium segment?] and will be shedding quite a few tears on May 20 when he packs up his microphone and the pencils with erasers at both ends. Dave reflects on his 33 years in late night TV in this interview with the New York Times. [“I’ll miss it, desperately. One of two things: There will be reasonable, adult acceptance of transition. Or I will turn to a life of crime.”] But before you click there, watch his buddies Future Islands, who returned to the show last night:

Every picture tells a story: Proclamation Ale Co., Beer’d Brewing, Beer Labels In Motion, and more

The B&C desk has posted hundreds of thousands of words in the last six months, but today we’re going light on the prose and heavy on the pictures/links.

We’ll have all of the Dogfish Head details on Wednesday, but in the meantime, mark your calendar/set an alert:

Beer’d brews in cans? Yes, please! Vote now [and daily through 5.10]:

Hey Dave, get those tanks going ASAP!

Some fun from Trevor Carmick’s great site, Beer Labels In Motion:

And our pal Richard McCaffrey was front and center at the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame induction bash:

The breweries you would most like to welcome to the Rhode Island market are…

On Wednesday, inspired by the arrival of Jack’s Abby and New Belgium announcing that it will be adding PA as the 39th state in its distribution network, we asked, “What brewery would you most like to see in the RI market?” There were nine choices — primarily long shots but feasible someday-maybe candidates [there was also a slot for write-ins]. We received 152 votes: New_Poll_4.27 The “Other”s are mostly in the “it doesn’t hurt to dream” category: Hill Farmstead, 3 Floyds, Trillium [3 votes]; the Alchemist, Bissell Brothers, Surly [2 votes]; Adirondack, Great Divide, New Glarus, Pipeworks, “Support for RI breweries” [1 vote].

sip-can-run2-186x186We will forward the results of the poll to the top three vote-getters, and express the Bottles & Cans readers’ desire to welcome Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Cigar City Brewing, and Bell’s Brewery to the Ocean State. Hey, the B&C desk has considerable clout: our entreaties helped convince Jack’s Abby to bring their lagers to our tiny state, and Doherty’s Ale House finally introduced flights in response to our tireless pleas. So we hope that inspiring Sean Lawson to start shipping cases of Sip of Sunshine to Rhode Island will be the next feather in our cap…

Craft beer’s future, plus a closer look at the top brews; the history of the beer garden; and more!

A 19th-century beer garden

It’s Saturday [and it’s cold; we’re sure the Newport Craft Beer Fest folks are glad they bumped the date up to May 9], which means it’s time to dig into our weekly beer read compendium [and you can still weigh in our latest poll: “What brewery would you most like to see in the Rhode Island market?”]:

Craft beer’s biggest enemy is itself, not Budweiser and Miller, by Jason Notte @ MatketWatch [“Craft beer’s past has romance and hardship, but it’s the future that needs tending to.”]

A closer look at the Brewers Association’s top craft beers, by Carolyn Heneghan @ Food Dive [“Is there a secret sauce to the inner workings of how these top breweries stay on top or how some can see such successful leaps? Watson says it’s all about giving the customer what they want.”]

The 20 craft IPAs you need to try before summer, by Mike Foss @ USA Today [“(IN ABSOLUTELY NO ORDER”; you can get four of them at most better beer stores ’round here, and four more if you road-trip to MA and VT and ME]

Craft Breweries Troll Budweiser With Pumpkin Peach Beers, by Joe Satran @ The Huffington Post [“A group of craft brewers has discovered that revenge is both sweet and a dish best served cold.”]

How the Beer Garden Came To Be, by Philip Sopher @ The Atlantic [“Bad news: Starting (April 24), you won’t be able to brew beer for about five months. That’s the deflating message that 16th-century Germans subject to the Bavarian Brauordnung (beer regulations) would have received. Fortunately, great innovations are borne of extreme limitations. From the Brauordnung sprung one of the world’s most hallowed warm-weather institutions: the beer garden.”]

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Beer fun: the Great International Beer Fest, the ‘Rhode Island Beer’ book tour, Whaler’s at the Grange, Jack’s Abby tap takeovers, and more!

beer_funLooking for some beer fun this weekend? Here are some prime destinations:

 Jack’s Abby roared into RI this week, and there are two more tap takeovers on the introductory slate: tonight [4.24] at Track 84 [aka the winner of the Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket; 7 pm-close] and on Saturday at English Cellar Alehouse [5-10 pm]. Say hi to co-owner Sam Hendler and enjoy their world-class lagers, including the new, ultra-limited, quintuple-hopped Excess IPL.

 The 9th Great International Spring Beer Festival is on Saturday [4.25] at the Rhode Island Convention Center, with unlimited sampling of more than 250 different beverages [and free slices from Pizza Pie-er]. There’s a lot of macro in the mix [and not much internationality], but discriminating drinkers should find plenty to sip and savor. We suggest spending lots of time with the bolded locals: 21st Amendment, Bad Martha, Berkshire Brewing, Blue Moon, Bucket Brewery, Coors, Guinness, Finch’s, Foolproof, Goose Island, Grey Sail, Harpoon, Heineken, Magic Hat, Narragansett, Newport Storm, Opa-Opa, Paper City, Radeberger, Ravenous, Revival, Samuel Adams, Shipyard, Sierra Nevada, Stark, Traveler, Trinity Brewhouse, Two Roads, Union Station, Victory, Woodstock Inn, and Yuengling [plus Angry Orchard, Downeast, and Twisted Tea]. Sessions run from 1 to 4:30 pm [with music by the Rock] and 6:30 to 10 pm [the Network]; tix are $52 at the door.

 On Saturday, you have two opportunities to meet ’n’ greet Ashleigh Bennett and Kristie Martin, the esteemed authors of Rhode Island Beer: Ocean State History On Tapand sample Innsmouth Olde Ale, the second entry in Narragansett/Revival’s H.P. Lovecraft Series. They’ll be at Barrington Books from 1-2:30 pm and Symposium Books in downtown Providence from 5-7.

 On Sunday [4.26], The Grange will host Whaler’s Brewing Company’s first-ever beer dinner. Click here to see the menu for the three-course bash [6-8 pm, $40pp], which will be followed by a set of standup and storytelling by Vito Lantz around 9. And huzzah to Whaler’s, which was cited as Best No-Frills Brewery in Yankee Magazine’s Best of New England issue.

  You can toast the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame’s 2015 inductees on Sunday at the Met. We did some typing about that event on Thursday… [And before we head to Pawtucket, we’ll be watching them scrappy Boston Celtics. Chris Forsberg has a sweet piece on this year’s Green: “You’re going to miss this team when its season is over.”]

 Two no-go destinations: the Bucket Brewery will be closed on Saturday, but you can visit them at the Convention Center; and Proclamation is closed all weekend, as they prep their HQ for the arrival of the shiny new brewing tanks.

 And you can still let us know “What brewery would you most like to see in the RI market?” The poll will be open till Sunday.

For updates and post alerts, PLEASE follow Bottles & Cans on Twitter [@BottlesCansRI] and Facebook and/or SIGN UP for e-mail alerts at the top of this page. Tell your friends!!!

Throwback Thursday: Hail to the Schemers!

HOF-LOGOEvery now and then we play along on Throwback Thursday [#TBT]. Today, we’re throwing back with the extraordinary roster of musicmakers and industry pros who will be honored on Sunday [4.26] at the 2015 Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The fourth annual class features the Schemers/Raindogs/Mark Cutler, Brenda Bennett, the Others [congrats to our ol’ pal Bob Angell — good on ya!], the Ascots, and Marty Ballou and Marty Richards [who will all perform at the event], plus Nelson Eddy, George Wein, Paco Zimmer, and Georgie Porgie & the Cry Babies; Duke Belaire, George Masso, and Bob Petteruti were honored at the Hall’s jazz bash, which took place at Bovi’s on Monday.

In the last three years, the late, lamented Providence Phoenix ran cover stories to celebrate the inductees, bursting with bios, notable quotes, and fun facts [here’s a link to the 2013 edition]. We were hoping that another publication would follow our lead and continue the tradition…but, alas, no. You can read about the Class of 2015 at the RIMHOF website. And you can revel in the glorious history and local pride when the inductee exhibits will be unveiled at the RIMHOF Museum [999 Main St, Pawtucket] at 2 pm; the speeches and performances begin at 3:30 at the Met [$20 advance, $25 door; no charge to attend the exhibit ceremony]. To paraphrase 2013 inductee George M. Cohan, it’s gonna be a grand old time.

Readers of the late, lamented Providence Phoenix [and NewPaper] know that we go waaaay back with the Schemers. So we’re throwing back by reproducing the [slightly tweaked and edited] liner notes we wrote for Remember, the band’s 2004 CD [which you can purchase here]. [Note: We’ve shared a bit of trivia re: the 1987 NewPaper cover after the liner notes.]

Thanks to Mark, Emerson, Jimmy, Dickie, and all the other Schemers [Ed, Mark, Pete, Rick, Rene, Matt, and Bob] and Raindogs [and Dino Clubbers and Men of Great Courage and Tiny String Banders] for decades of pleasure [aka some fun]. And they ain’t done yet: the Schemers still play a few times a year — and are working on a new album! Long may you run, gentlemen! We salute you!

Jimmy Berger, Rene Blais, Emerson Torrey, and Mark Cutler
The early ’80s Schemers: Jimmy Berger, Rene Blais, Emerson Torrey, and Mark Cutler

It’s June 28, 1984. Twenty minutes ago, the Schemers won the WBCN Rock ’n’ Rumble — the first not-from-Boston band to capture a very prestigious prize in a potentially career-changing battle of the bands. They played two exhilarating sets [and I’m not just working from hazy memory here; the tape of the absolutely incendiary second set is surging through my headphones as I type]. I walked out of the club, dazed, thrilled, and delirious. I found the backstage door and talked my way into the celebratory fray. And this is the moment, the defining moment of the night, what I still tell people about 20 years later: Finding Mark Cutler quietly huddled in a corner with the singer from Dub 7, the band the Schemers had bested. He was commiserating, bonding, finding common ground. Amidst the cork-popping and high-fiving, Mark was embodying the qualities found in the best Schemers songs: empathy, warmth, sincerity. The other qualities — exemplary songwriting and ace musicianship — had put them in the winner’s circle.

It’s November 6, 2003. I’m typing, they’re staring. Let me explain: I have a four-foot-wide-by-six-foot-high reproduction of a 1987 NewPaper cover leaning against the wall to the left of my desk. It’s the cover with Bill Flanagan’s definitive Schemers story, written to commemorate their glorious run and then-painful breakup: “Please don’t forget my name: Farewell to the Schemers.” The image appeared on the cover of the issue celebrating the 25th anniversary of the NewPaper and the Providence Phoenix, and was one of a dozen that were displayed at the birthday bash — which was headlined by the Schemers.

On October 23, 2003, I had the singular pleasure of introducing the Schemers at that party. I fretted for weeks about what to say — how to convey what it meant to me, to long-timers at the paper, and to hardcore fans in the audience, to have the Schemers as the musical keynoters for the event. I yammered nervously for a bit and then hit on this truth: “The Schemers are the best band this state has ever known.”

The fans of the band — the fans who saw them in the earliest days when Ed Tabela was the lead singer and there were six members; the fans who saw Mark and Emerson and Jimmy and Rene grow up in public at still-legendary clubs and joints whose names are long forgotten; the fans who saw them open for X at the Living Room in 1982, perhaps the most hot-wired night of music ever heard in Providence; the fans who showed up week after week at club after club in 1985 and ’86 when the band was at its absolute peak; the fans who mourned the band’s dissolution in 1987, but ultimately realized that they had pushed and climbed and stretched and reached their limit — who knew the Schemers as surely as the Schemers knew them. It was a perfectly symbiotic relationship.

But [suddenly] it’s 16 years later, with them staring and me typing. After their set at the 25th bash, Mark asked me to write some notes for this package. A few days later, the giant cover found its way into my room. It’s been a time of reflection and contemplation — so many stories, so many memories. And the Mount Rushmore-like image of the Schemers has provided a wonderful reminder of how many of those stories and memories have been played out with the Schemers as the soundtrack.

All right, it’s getting misty in here. I realize I haven’t “backed up” my moment of truth re: the Schemers being the best band the state has ever known. But these are my notes, and it’s my truth. Other Rhode Island bands have had greater commercial success, and a slew of others have had a longer shelf life. No matter.

I have spent more time with the Schemers than with any other band. It has been time very well spent. They are as vital now as they were 20 years ago. That’s because empathy, warmth, sincerity, exemplary songwriting, and ace musicianship are timeless.

springfieldlasttimearound-600x600schemers_cover[Here’s that trivia: When we assigned the “Farewell to the Schemers” cover, we asked the illustrator to model the drawing on the cover of  Buffalo Springfield’s third and final album, Last Time Around, with Cutler looking in the opposite direction of his bandmates and toward his future with the Raindogs. Deadlines passed, and the illustrator kept asking for more time; when we finally drove to her house to pick up the illustration — a few hours before the the NewPaper’s deadline — we were dismayed to see that she had gone rogue and merely rendered variations on the poses from the band’s latest promo photos. [Sigh.] It’s ironic to note that Buffalo Springfield recorded for Atco — which released Raindogs’ two albums in 1990 and 1991.]