The Rhode Island Brewery Passport has finally arrived!

[Photo from Trinity Brewhouse’s Facebook page]
It’s been a loooooooong time coming, but the Rhode Island Brewery Passport is finally a reality [we beat the drum for it in our epic post, “Growlers and beyond: raising the beer bar in Rhode Island,” which ran on 5.22.15]. When you make any purchase at a brewery that is a “voting member” of the Rhode Island Brewers Guild — Bucket, Coddington, Crooked Current, Foolproof, Grey Sail, Long Live Beerworks, Newport Storm, Proclamation, Tilted Barn, Ravenous, Trinity Brewhouse, Union Station, and Whaler’s — your passport gets stamped, and when you’ve been to all 13 stops, you get a free bomber of End of the Rhode, a formidable Belgian strong ale which was made with RI-sourced hops and honey by the participating brewers! Win win!!

Go hit the RI beer trail!!!!

It’s National Beer Day! And Session Beer Day!!

It’s National Beer Day [aka every day]. Why? Let’s turn the wayback machine to 1933, in the waning days of Prohibition. On March 22, FDR signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized the sale, purchase — and drinking — of beer [with an ABV cap of 4%]. The law went info effect on April 7. On the 6th — New Beer’s Eve — thousands of suds-craving folks waited outside bars and breweries for the stroke of midnight; in the next 24 hours, 1.5 million barrels of the first-legal-beer-in-13-years were consumed. So raise a glass and toast the sweet nectar of freedom!

The folks at the Session Beer Project have declared it Session Beer Day. They don’t mention National Beer Day in their manifesto — “insist on 4.5% or less” — and one wonders why they didn’t choose another date for their “holiday.” Spread the cheers!

By the way, it’s also National No Housework Day and National Coffee Cake Day. Beer pairs very well with those celebrations.

Saturday [well, Monday] is Founders’ KBS Day

Saturday is April Fools’ Day but, more importantly, it’s KBS Day. The arrival of Founders Brewing Co.’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout — made with chocolate and coffee and aged in oak bourbon barrels [11.8% ABV] — will set off the usual frenzy, with beer obsessives racing from store to store to snap up singles and hoping to stumble onto the Oh-So-Rare Yes,-We’re-Selling-It-In-Four-Packs Four-Pack [and KBS will be available in 750ml bottles for the first time].

But because KBS Day is on a Saturday, the real KBS Day ’round here will be Monday [4.3] [and later in the week for some stores], since the McLaughlin & Moran trucks won’t be rolling on 4.1. On Wednesday [4.5], John Abercrombie, Founders’ marketing manager, will preside over a KBS 2017 tapping at the Avery [18 Luongo Memorial Sq, Providence] from 6-8 pm; then the fun moves to the Wild Colonial [250 South Water St, Providence] from 8-10 pm, featuring KBS plus Frootwood [cherry ale aged in oak barrels] and a Barrelhouse-only Comet IPA. But keep up on the social mediums for more events and the specifics re: when the bottles and kegs arrive at your fave retailers and taverns.

Bonus content: Robert Allen of The Detroit Free Press wrote a story about this year’s batch of KBS. Some highlights:

“Longtime fans will notice the annual Founders Brewing Co. release, an imperial stout with coffee and chocolate, cave-aged for months in bourbon barrels, is even more smooth and balanced than previous years. During a tapping event…I immediately noticed less of the boozy heat than last year’s release, with roasty coffee notes taking center stage.

“Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki described 2017 KBS in an email:

“ ‘This year I noticed a particularly large percentage of older barrels — barrels that were filled (with bourbon) 10, 15, even 20 years ago. These barrels seem to have a deeper, richer, more balanced bourbon character, where the younger barrels have a more in-your-face bourbon quality,’ he said.

“The same recipe is used every year, but large-scale barrel aging inevitably lends some variability. A variety of younger and older barrels, and differing bourbons — such as Heaven Hill, Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark — age the stout before it’s combined and bottled.”

In a 2016 piece, Allen deleved into the KBS backstory: “We recently took a trip with its makers about 3 miles from the brewery to Michigan Natural Storage to get a taste of the KBS aging process. To reach the caves, you take an elevator ride 85 feet below Grand Rapids. The former gypsum mines spread for about 6 miles of mostly narrow passages where the temperature and humidity are tightly controlled…Among the 7000 barrels on racks are future KBS and Backwoods Bastard, a Scotch ale. Heystek sprayed sanitizer on four of the barrels and popped out the bungs, removing samples with a turkey baster to give us tastes comparing Backwoods and KBS brews aging since as far back as 2011. The alcohol bite was more noticeable in the fresher samples, while the older ones had more velvety, dessert-wine flavors.”

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And heads up re: the Craft Brew Races event — a 5K walk/run capped by a 3.5-hour beer fest — which is happening on Saturday, July 22 at Fort Adams State Park in Newport. The early bird offer, which saves you $5, expires at midnight tonight [3.31]. Click here for the prices and to get your tix.

Craft beer 2016: ‘Steady Growth for Small and Independent Brewers’

This just in from the Brewers Association:

Steady Growth for Small and Independent Brewers
Brewers Association Releases 2016 Statistics for Craft Category

The Brewers Association (BA) — the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers — today released 2016 data on U.S. craft brewing growth. With over 5,300 breweries operating during the year, small and independent craft brewers represent 12.3 percent market share by volume of the overall beer industry.

In 2016, craft brewers produced 24.6 million barrels, and saw a 6 percent rise in volume3 on a comparable base and a 10 percent increase in retail dollar value. Retail dollar value was estimated at $23.5 billion, representing 21.9 percent market share. By adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment, based on purchases by large brewing companies. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90 percent of the craft brewer growth.

“Small and independent brewers are operating in a new brewing reality still filled with opportunity, but within a much more competitive landscape,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “As the overall beer market remains static and the large global brewers lose volume, their strategy has been to focus on acquiring craft brewers. This has been a catalyst for slower growth for small and independent brewers and endangered consumer access to certain brands. Small and independent brewers were able to fill in the barrels lost to acquisitions and show steady growth but at a rate more reflective of today’s industry dynamics. The average brewer is getting smaller and growth is more diffuse within the craft category, with producers at the tail helping to drive growth for the overall segment.”

 

Additionally, in 2016 the number of operating breweries in the U.S. grew 16.6 percent, totaling 5,301 breweries, broken down as follows: 3,132 microbreweries, 1,916 brewpubs, 186 regional craft breweries and 67 large or otherwise non-craft brewers. Small and independent breweries account for 99 percent of the breweries in operation. Throughout the year, there were 826 new brewery openings and only 97 closings. Combined with already existing and established breweries and brewpubs, craft brewers provided nearly 129,000 jobs, an increase of almost 7,000 from the previous year.

Note: Numbers are preliminary. For additional insights from Bart Watson, visit “Breaking Down the Craft Growth Numbers” on the Brewers Association website. A more extensive analysis will be released during the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® in Washington, D.C. from April 10-13.

More cans on the way: Sons of Liberty’s Love Handles

This just in from the SOL crew:

If You Can It, They Will Come to the Distillery of Dreams on Friday, March 24 for Release of First-Ever Canned Beer – Love Handles Double IPA

South Kingstown Distillery Celebrates First Canned Beer with Beer, More Beer, Craft Cocktails, Whiskey Flights, Live Music from Mickey Lamantia and Food from Open Season

If you can it, they will come. Not to some cornfield in Iowa, but to South Kingstown on Friday, March 24 to celebrate the release of Sons of Liberty’s very-first canned beer – Love Handles Double IPA (DIPA).

Forget Shoeless Joe and Moonlight Graham – the people will come for this voluptuous DIPA that’s got curves for days. Brewed at 7.8% ABV and sold in 16-oz. cans, Love Handles Double IPA is a New England Style IPA (NEIPA) with distinct mango on the nose and a body deserving of its name. Double dry hopped with 8 lbs/BBL of Equinox and Eldorado Hops, Sons of Liberty used floor malted Maris Otter to support the busty hop additions and 18% oats to create a juicy, creamy mouthfeel.

Throw back a few of these cold beauties, or any of the great beers Sons of Liberty now has on tap, to the sound of Rhode Island’s favorite country outlaw, Mickey Lamantia, as he will be playing live in the distillery’s tasting room. And since proper love handles require a team effort of beer and food, Warwick’s Open Season will be making the quick trip down the road to provide mouthwatering eats, including pretzels with Uprising Stout Beer Cheese, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese and Wild Boar Bratwurst with Bacon and Beer-Braised Onions.

The distillery will open its doors at 5 pm, but the line will probably start sooner. No money needed at the door [1425 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown], only for drinks and food! Call 401.284.4006 for even more details.