Our version of March Madness, the Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket, started last week with the Sweet 16 [here’s the original bracket], featuring eight “teams” from Providence/Warwick and eight other brew havens from all over the state. On Monday, the Elite 8 got underway:
And now [drum roll]: the Final Four, featuring one David and three Goliaths:
The Final Four will run through Sunday [3.29]; the two finalists will do battle in the Championship Game from Monday [3.30] till Wednesday [4.1]. Rhode Island’s Favorite Beer Bar will be announced on Thursday, April 2. [And here’s even more Madness: USA Today’s Ultimate Craft Beer Bracket, which is also down to its Final Four.]
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Media notes: On Wednesday, Men’s Journal posted its annual list of “The 101 Best Beers In America.” Their intro: “There’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker. There’s also never been a more confusing time. Over the past five years, the number of craft breweries has more than doubled, to nearly 3,500, cranking out countless new ales, lagers, porters, and stouts in all 50 states. The question, of course: Which ones should you drink?” They chose two beers from every state [and one from DC]; the Rhode Island standouts in “the ultimate American beer tour” are from Foolproof Brewing Company and Proclamation Ale Company. MJ cited Foolproof’s La Ferme Urbaine, a farmhouse saison: “This eight-percent farmhouse ale tastes like it was just air-dropped from Belgium, but it’s actually from a two-year old brewery in Pawtucket. The brewers at Foolproof use a complex grain bill with barley, wheat, rye, oats, and spelt. And while we can’t tell you what exactly the spelt flavor is, it works. A bright spice from the yeast and rich malt flavor are set off by biting herbal hops in this fantastic saison.” And Proclamation’s Keraterra, an American wild ale, garnered this praise: “Rhode Island’s Proclamation Ale Co. opened in January, 2014 promising, ‘big beer from a small state.’ Its golden Keraterra delivers flavor in spades. The beer is brewed with the tropical and citrusy Amarillo and Citra hops, and fermented with wild Brettanomyces yeast in Pinot Noir barrels. The tropical hop notes harmonize with the funky flavors expressed by the yeast and the Pinot Noir barrels add a vinous oaky complexity. In what could be a mess of overpowering flavors, Proclamation reigns in each element to complement one another, instead of drowning each other out.” The local brews are rubbing shoulders on the list with the likes of Ballast Point’s Sculpin, Founders’ KBS, 3 Floyds’ Zombie Dust and, of course, The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. It’s a well-deserved honor, and comes on the heels of Foolproof and Proclamation’s buzz-generating stint at the invitation-only Extreme Beer Fest. Huzzah!
• Two days earlier, Boston magazine unveiled its list of the “21 Top Breweries In New England,” with the Providence-based-but-Rochester, NY-brewed Narragansett as the lone RI rep at #21 [Hill Farmstead in VT is #1]. But the monthly’s beer-ranking bona fides are a bit suspect: In 2014, they compiled “The 50 New England Breweries to Visit This Summer” [Foolproof made the list] — which didn’t include any beermakers in Connecticut, which set off an off-with-his-head! outcry, and was amended six weeks later with “Traversing the Booming Connecticut Craft Beer Trail” [two CT brewers are on the new list: New England Brewing Co. at #7 and Two Roads at #12].
But we know very well, after years of compiling The Bests and parsing other projects at the late, lamented Providence Phoenix, that list-making exercises [and ballots and the Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bracket] are subjective and imperfect and just for fun. And when it comes to beer, everyone’s palette…um, pallet…er, palate is different.
• Which leads to this throwing-bricks-in-a-glass-house item: The Bottles & Cans desk is not a typo- or oops-free zone. We have stubbornly and incorrectly inserted a hyphen into Julians [we just fixed ’em, though they’re still on the brackets] and have stumbled on a fact or three [and fixed ’em ASAP]. [And at the late, lamented Providence Phoenix we had a few classic groaners, most notably printing SURVIVOR without the first V — in 136-point type. On the cover.]
With that in mind, we share this item: On Wednesday, in the midst of a clickathon through the beer sites, we hit Untappd.com, the brew-tracking/sharing/discovering/badge-awarding hub. One of the main text blocks on the homepage, under the heading “Drink New Beers, Unlock Badges,” declared, “Expand your palette…” [How long had it been wrong? Have people been too busy drinkng and tappng to call attention to the gaffe?] So, as one is duty-bound to do in 2015, we tweeted:
@untappd should unlock a Dictionary Badge: its homepage encourages you to “Expand your palette” #it’spalate #drinksociallyspellcorrectly
This morning we checked to see if the word had been fixed — and to gauge the impact of the mighty B&C franchise. Well, kinda-almost. As of 11:42 am, it reads, “Expand your palete…” We hope the third try’s the charm — and are curious to see the name of the badge that the Untapprs will unlock for us…
• And FYI: On Wednesday at Doherty’s Irish Pub, the Founders CBS was tapped at 7 pm, and was allll gone 34 minutes later. Get ready for the next Founders frenzy: KBS [Kentucky Breakfast Stout] will be released on April 1.