Stouts take over the taps at Norey’s; plus, the weekly growling-and-tasting report [2.11-14]

xlbj4g21kbrw08upyfgtThe first big beer event of 2016 at Norey’s [156 Broadway, Newport] — the World Stouts Tap Takeover — starts on Friday [2.12] at 4 pm. Here are the dark and potent and delightful [and highly-rated] offerings:

Dogfish Head’s Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew [imperial stout made with honey beer and gesho root, 9% ABV]

De Struise Brouwers’ Black Albert Russian Imperial Stout [13%]

Founders’ KBS Kentucky Breakfast Stout [11.2%]

AleSmith’s Speedway Stout [12%]

HaandBryggeriet’s Odin’s Tipple Russian Imperial Stout [11%]

Heavy Seas’ Siren Noire [cask, 9.5%]

Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout [13.8%]

Cisco’s Island Reserve Russian Imperial Stout [13.5%]

Birrificio Del Ducato’s My Blueberry Nightmare [a sour ale variation of Verdi Imperial Stout brewed with hot chili and aged for two years in oak barrels with blueberries. 9.4%]

Allagash’s St. Klippenstein [Belgian strong dark ale made with dark roasted malts and aged in oak bourbon barrels, 9%]

These big beers will be pouring for your midwinter sipping pleasure ’til the kegs run dry. Enjoy!

•    •    •

Aaaand here’s our regularly scheduled content: the weekly brewery roundup:

Proclamation Ale Company [Thursday 3:30-7 pm, Friday 5-9, Saturday 12-7, Sunday 12-5] has another big release event on Friday: Harper 2: Electric Boogaloo, “a blend of blonde, red, and dark sour beer refermented on about two pounds per gallon of tart and sweet cherries.” There are 40 cases [12/case] and a two-per-person “hard limit. If you want this beer, we urge you to come early, we expect this release to be madness and all the beer will be gone very quickly.” So go line up now. Other reasons to head to West Kingston: The Stalk [double IPA made with Citra, Mosaic, and Amarillo hops] and Derivative: Galaxy [bombers and growlers/tastings for both]; Derivative: Mosaic [growlers/tastings only, bombers sold out], and the last two cases [750ml bottles] of Adelia, a tart blonde “warehouse ale.”

At Grey Sail [Thursday + Friday  4-7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1-5]: Black Mast American Stout, Flagship, Flying Jenny, Leaning Chimney Smoked Porter, Mary Ann’s Ginger Spice, Pour Judgement, Great Ketch, and Captain’s Daughter, plus special Valentine’s Day tastings of Dark Star Batch, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout with cherries, and a cask of Black Mast with coconut.

At Long Live Beerworks [Wednesday-Friday  4-9 pm, Saturday 1-8]: ’Nuff Said IPA, Milk Milk Stout, and Heck Hound [smoky red ale]. Plus: Super Fancy, a ’Nuff Said/Black Cat blend, and on Firkin Friday [2.12], Toasted Milk [Milk Milk with whiskey-soaked toasted pecans].

At Tilted Barn [Saturday 1-4 pm]: growlers/tastings of Peeptoad Pale Ale, Raffi [oatmeal stout] — and Libby, their new American Blonde Ale. Matt says: “We’ll be featuring different hops each time she comes around. Citra is featured in this batch.”

At Bucket Brewery [Friday 1-7:30 pm; Saturday 11 am-5 pm, with tours at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30]: Slater Pils, Black Goat o’ the Woods [spiced milk stout], 33rd Inning Red Rye Lager, Pawtucket Pail Ale, Park Loop Porter, and Fireside Harvest Ale [plus a few prototypes/experiments if you ask real nice].

At Crooked Current [Thursday 5-7 pm, Friday 5-8, Saturday 1-5]: Chocolate Cherry Stout, Hawaiian Robust Porter, and Oatmeal Raisin Stout.

At Newport Storm [Thursday-Saturday 12-6 pm, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, 12-5]: Spring Irish Red Ale, Hurricane Amber Ale, and Rhode Island Blueberry, plus Annual Release ’15 [tastings only].

At Ravenous [Saturday 1-4 pm]: Chocolate Milk Stout, Coffee Milk Stout, Blackstone Pale Ale, and Dolly Cole [black ale].

The crew at Whaler’s Brewing is still renovating its space, but will have a grand reopening on February 18.

Seek and find for theeself re: Foolproof.

•    •    •

P.S.: Click here [or scroll down] if you want to win tickets to the Craft Beer Pavilion at the Boston Globe Travel Show…and click here to read our latest piece for Motif, “Beer + chocolate = bliss.”

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.

Long Live Beerworks opens on Saturday; the weekly growler report; and who will be under Isle Brewers Guild’s roof?

isleYes, we made a New Year’s resolution: The weekly growler report will now appear on Thursday, since the majority of our correspondents start pouring on that day. But before you start growling, click through to read “Pawtucket City Council approves tax treaty with Isle Brewers Guild,” by Ethan Shorey of The Valley Breeze. The story notes that “Jeremy Duffy, co-founder of the company, updated council members on the latest plans for the brewing hub, which will includ[e] four to six existing brewers all running brewing operations under one roof. He didn’t answer whether Narragansett Beer is one of the breweries in negotiations to move in. One of the breweries is from Rhode Island, while several others are from Massachusetts.” On December 28, when we asked ’Gansett’s Mark Hellendrung a few questions, he said, “In Q1 we’ll be announcing plans for the brewery, which should be the final piece in a long process that I’m sure a lot of people have anticipated, with a likely opening in late summer,” but he also didn’t reply to our specific query re: getting under the roof at IBG. Do you have any guesses re: who the “several” breweries from Massachusetts are? Scroll down and post ’em in the “Leave a comment” section.

OK, here’s the beery intel:

From November 2011 through November 2014, nine breweries were launched in Rhode Island. But no one joined the party in 2015. In April of last year, Armando DeDona, the brewmaster/owner at Long Live Beerworks, got a special use permit to build a microbrewery in a commercial zone. Before that change, beer could only be made in a manufacturing zone. He had his fingers crossed for a grand opening in the fall, but the Big Day has finally arrived: the first 21st-century production brewery in Providence [at 425 West Fountain St] will open its doors on Saturday, January 9 from 1 to 5 pm. Armando told us: “I’m very excited and nervous about our opening. It’s going to be tight in our little brewery opening day, but we can handle it.” Three of the five beers listed on LLB’s website will be on tap: ’Nuff Said IPA [7% ABV], Black Cat Pale Ale [6.5%], and Milk Milk Stout [5.5%]. Regular hours start on January 13: Wednesday through Friday from 4-9 and on Saturday from 1-8. Congrats, Armando!

At Proclamation Ale Company [today 3:30-7 pm, Friday 3:30-8, Saturday 12-7, Sunday 12-5]: The first run of a new single batch one-offs, Process/Progress #1, which brewmaster Dave Witham describes as “an oatmeal IPA with Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, and Centennial hops. Lemon/lime pith/white grapefruit, earthy, 6.5% ABV.” Also available for tastings and growlers: Tendril, Derivative: Citra, and Broze; and there are a few bottles of Adelia, a tart blonde “warehouse ale” [6.3 %].

At Grey Sail [Thursday and Friday 4-7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1-5 pm]: Mary Ann’s Ginger Spice, Great Ketch, Captain’s Daughter, Pour Judgement, Leaning Chimney, Flying Jenny, and Flagship. Assistant brewer Michelle Kirms says: “We got a silo in last month, just started brewing into a 60-barrel fermenter, and have another 60-barrel fermenter and brite tank on the way. So yes, for all those who are wondering, we have plans to up our production of Captain’s Daughter.”

At Crooked Current [Thursday 5-7 pm, Friday 5-8 pm, Saturday 1-5 pm]: a “fresh and final batch” of Extortion Eggnog Milk Stout [quoth the CCers, “Get it now; a year is a long time to wait”], Oatmeal Raisin Stout, and Immorality Pale Ale.

At Newport Storm [Thursday-Saturday 12-6 pm, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, 12-5] for growler fills: India Point Ale, Hurricane Amber Ale, and Rhode Island Blueberry. And look for infeRIority complex, the sixth release in the brewery’s barrel-aging series; it‘s a “Belgian-inspired brett beer aged in Thomas Tew Rum barrels for a year.”

At Bucket Brewery [Friday 1-7:30 pm; Saturday 11 am-5 pm, with tours at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30]: 33rd Inning Red Rye Lager, Hive Mind Honey Ale [last keg], Pawtucket Pail Ale, Park Loop Porter, Fireside Harvest Ale, and Vanilla-Oak Park Loop Porter.

At Foolproof [Friday 5-7 pm, Saturday 1-5, with tours at 1, 2, 3, and 4 for tastings ($10, includes three samples) and growler fills]: Revery, Peanut Butter Raincloud, Backyahd, Barstool, La Ferme Urbaine, Raincloud, and King of the Yard.

Tilted Barn is closed this week for construction in the barn for the new and improved tasting room. They’ll be back in action on the 16th with a new pale ale, a new IPA, and Raffi.

Check the website for an update from Whaler’s [and drive to Woonsocket to see what Ravenous is up to; they rarely share info on the social mediums].

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!!!

An update on the “Better Beer Laws” petition; the holiday growler-getting guide; and much more

We haven’t posted any missives since 12.10 because we’ve been camped out 24/7 at Island Cinemas, patiently waiting for the opening of a highly anticipated film with a hyphenated title [maybe you’ve heard about it: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip]. And this will likely be the last B&C post till 2016, since everyone is in holiday hecticity mode and we’re not expecting any Breaking News until after the ball drops. But we do have a few items to share before we get to the holiday growler-getting guide…

Image courtesy of CraftBeer.com

On October 21, we launched the petition to “Support the passage of better beer laws in Rhode Island.” The goals: to change the law that arbitrarily and unfairly limits the amount of beer [72 ounces] that can be purchased at breweries [there’s no ounce limit at brewpubs] — which puts a limit on the income and potential growth of small brewers; and to float the notion of allowing pint sales in tasting rooms at breweries [click the petition link to read the entire pitch]. The document garnered 1165 signatures and hundreds of insightful comments.

So what happens next? Brent Ryan, co-founder of Newport Storm and president of the Rhode Island Brewers Guild, told us: “The Guild is still working toward forming a strategy for legislative matters. Josh Karten from Proclamation Ale took over the vacated legislative committee chair this fall and is in the process of re-recruiting for the committee. Although we have not come to any conclusions on whether we will seek to pursue any legislative changes, we have taken the steps to create a process by which this would be considered and approached.” The legislators get back to the State House on January 5; the last day for public bill introduction is February 11 [though we understand there is some wiggle room re: that deadline]. Soooo it sounds like you, dear reader, will be bitching about the 72-ounce limit for another year. But we embrace a growler-half-full attitude here at the B&C desk, soooo [all together now]: fingers crossed for Better Beer Laws In Rhode Island in 2016!!!

LongLive From November 2011 through November 2014, nine breweries were launched in Rhode Island. But no one joined the ranks of local beermakers in 2015. Armando DeDona, the brewmaster/owner at Long Live Beerworks, had his fingers crossed for a grand opening in the last few months, but the latest word is that the first craft brewery in Providence [at 425 West Fountain St] will share its first pours on January 2, 2016. Fingers crossed! [Updated 12.24: Long Live’s Official Opening will be on January 9, 2016, from 1-5 pm. Fingers uncrossed!]

Julians will host its Solstice Party on Monday [12.21] at 6 pm. The event features an all-you-can-eat buffet, music, and “an epic tap list” [click through; it’s epic!]. Admission is free with a donation of five canned goods or a winter coat.

We did a swell beer gifts guide last year; we’ve updated all the info/links for your 2015 clicking pleasure…And you should check our recent columns for Motif: “Gift giving tips from beer pros,” “It’s the most wonderful time for beers” [a round-up of seasonal brews], and the latest, “Pop a corked beer on New Year’s Eve.”

OK, let’s get growling:

At Proclamation Ale Company [Thursday 3:30-7 pm, Friday 3:30-8, Saturday 12-7, Sunday 12-5]: Derivative: Mosaic, Derivative: Galaxy, Broze, on for growlers/tastings, with Tendril making an appearance by Friday on the taps. Also: 750ml bottles of Adelia, a tart blonde “warehouse ale.” Bonus holiday hours: Wednesday [12.23] from 3-7 pm; closed 12.24 + 12.25; normal hours on 12.26 + 12.27; Wednesday [12.30] 3-7 pm, and New Year’s Eve from 12-4.

At Bucket Brewery [Friday 1-7:30 pm; Saturday 11 am-5 pm, with tours at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30]: 33rd Inning Red Rye Lager, BOG Cranberry Orange Saison, Hive Mind Honey Ale, Pawtucket Pail Ale, Park Loop Porter, and Fireside Harvest Ale. Nate adds: “I’m not sure how we’ll work it, but we also still have some of the various porters [oaked, chocolate, vanilla and Whisper] sitting in kegs, a bunch of test batches, and some pilsner that was buried in the fridge and has aged very well. I’ll find some way to serve some of those up as well!” And: Bucket is doing a food drive for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank through the end of the year. “Come in any time we’re open with a non-perishable food donation and get a free pint. One pint per person per visit.” Bonus holiday hours: Monday [12.21]-Wednesday [12.23] until 6, and 10 am-3 pm on Christmas Eve.

At Grey Sail [Thursday and Friday 4-7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1-5 pm]: Pekko Pale Ale, Mary Ann’s Ginger Spice, Great Ketch, Captain’s Daughter, Pour Judgement, Autumn Winds, Leaning Chimney, Flying Jenny, and Flagship. Plus: the third batch of Dark Star, a barrel-aged imperial stout made with cherries, which is only available at the brewery in 750ml bottles. Bonus holiday hours: Wednesday [12.23] 4-7 and 12-4 on Christmas Eve.

At Crooked Current [Thursday 5-7 pm, Friday 5-8 pm, Saturday 1-5 pm]: Extortion Eggnog Milk Stout, Oatmeal Raisin Stout, and Immorality Pale Ale. Bonus holiday hours: Wednesday [12.23] 5-7 pm.

At Newport Storm [Thursday-Saturday 12-6 pm, Monday and Christmas Eve 12-6] for growler fills: India Point Ale, Hurricane Amber Ale, and Rhode Island Blueberry.

At Foolproof [Friday 5-8 pm, Saturday 1-5, with tours at 1, 2, 3, and 4 for tastings ($10, includes three samples) and growler fills: Revery [Russian Imperial Stout; cans only], Peanut Butter Raincloud, Backyahd, Barstool, La Ferme Urbaine, Raincloud, and King of the Yard. Plus: a few leftover bottles from Barrel Reserve Night [first-come, first-serve]. Bonus holiday hours: they might be open on 12.23; check their Facebook for updates.

Tilted Barn is open on Wednesday from 5-8. Check their Facebook for what will be on tap on 12.23.

Check the website for updates on Whaler’s.

The growler report [with bonus holiday hours]; and Whaler’s Brewing’s Hazelnut Stout is headed to stores

This week’s roundup includes info on extra pre-holiday hours at some breweries:

We posted the info about Proclamation Ale Company’s Zzzlumber release on Thursday; click here for the details. Also on tap [today 5-8 pm, Saturday 12-7, and Sunday 12-5]: Tendril [per Dave: “a slightly revamped version of our old-school friend… 7.5% ABV, resin loaded fruit/pine punch”] and Broze, a new oatmeal milk stout [5.5%].

Bucket Brewery’s monthly Sound Check takes place tonight from 6-9 pm. The bash at 100 Carver St in Pawtucket features music by the ’Mericans. Tix are $15, which includes four beer sample tickets; an extra $5 = a souvenir glass and extra beer per pour; bring a non-perishable food item for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and you get a bonus beer ticket and entry for raffle prizes. And Bucket is doing a food drive for the RICFB through the end of the year. “Come in any time we’re open with a non-perishable food donation and get a free pint. One pint per person per visit.” On tap [and to-go] this weekend: 33rd Inning [available in cans], BOG Cranberry Orange Saison [cans], Hive Mind Honey Ale [in 32-ounce squealers], Pawtucket Pail Ale [cans], Park Loop Porter [cans], and Fireside Harvest Ale [squealers]. They’ll also have the last of Sabin’s Stout in squealers. Bonus T-giving hours: Mon-Wed 11 am-6 pm.

Click here for info on Tilted Barn’s first anniversary celebration on Saturday from 1-4 pm — and a “Get To Know Your Brewer” Q&A with Matt Richardson.

Big news from Whaler’s Brewing: Hazelnut Stout is hitting stores next week. WB’s Andy Tran says, “We are bottling [today] and making a big push for Thanksgiving week. It’s easily one of our highest-rated and longest-running styles, predating even the formation of the company, and is being bottled because of popular demand. Should be the perfect accompaniment for the cool weather season.” Look for it [and their great East Coast IPA] and share it on the holiday [and beyond]. On tap at the Wakefield HQ this weekend [Thursday and Friday 4-8 pm, Saturday 1-7 pm, Sunday 1-5 pm]: Berliner Weisse, Olneyville Megazord [dry-hopped brown ale], Hazelnut Stout, Golden IPA, Redsmith Ale, and Ginger Wheat.

At Foolproof: Peanut Butter Raincloud, Backyahd, Barstool, La Ferme Urbaine, Raincloud, and King of the Yard [today 5-8 pm, Saturday 1-5, with tours at 1, 2, 3, and 4 for tastings ($10 includes three samples) and growler fills]. And Revery, the Russian imperial stout, should be available in 12-ounce four-packs this weekend [no growler fills due to limited supply, but samples will be available at tastings].

At Newport Storm [Thursday-Saturday 12-6 pm, Monday and Wednesday 12-5]: R.I.P.umpkin, Smoked Porter, India Point Ale, Hurricane Amber Ale, and Rhode Island Blueberry.

Grey Sail is open today-Sunday from 1-5, plus Tuesday [3-7] and Thanksgiving Eve [1-7]. Check their Facebook page for what’s-on-tap updates…And seek alt. routes for info on Crooked Current and Ravenous [though the latter rarely posts what’s-pouring info, so head to Woonsocket to find out].

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!!!

The Wild Colonial’s “Revisiting the Classics” series honors Long Trail; Ravenous turns 3; and the weekly growler report

Before we get to the growler update, here are a coupla events to put on yr radar:

The Wild Colonial’s second “Revisiting the Classics” event is on Saturday [10.10]. Here’s the concept: “Some works are classics just because someone says so, but Mozart, Shakespeare, and Michelangelo are all pretty good. And, while the shiny and new are interesting and fun, sometimes revisiting the classics reveals that they are classics because they are great.

logo-longtrail“This fall, we at the Wild Colonial are doing the craft beer equivalent and dancing with the ones that brung us in a series of events designed to reappreciate some of the breweries that have been at this as long — or longer — than we have, breweries with whom we share some history, breweries who helped nurture the craft beer movement and who continue to innovate without forgetting whence they came.” On Saturday from 4-6 pm, Long Trail Brewing Co., the pride of Bridgewaters Corners, VT, will bask in the well-deserved spotlight. The highlight: the “first and only barrels” of Mr. Rush’s Wild Ride, a collab by the Wild Colonial crew and Long Trail brewmaster Dave Hartmann. Quote: “The name refers to the circuitous and peril-fraught road taken as the staff ventured forth from Little Rhody to make this for you.” Also on tap: the superb Limbo [double IPA]. [Next up: Sierra Nevada gets the “Classic” treatment on October 24.]

And on Sunday [10.11] at 6 pm, the crew from Ravenous Brewing Company will toast its third anniversary with a bash at Ciro’s Tavern on Cherry [42 Cherry St] in Woonsocket. The “non-formal event” will be fueled by the release of Black Harvest sweet potato stout, plus their flagship Coffee Milk Stout, Bienvenu French Quarter Red, and Blackstone Pale Ale. Quoth: “Thirsty…Nevermore!”

OK, let’s get growling ’n’ tasting:

With summer in the rear-view mirror, Grey Sail has lopped Wednesday off of its schedule; they’re now open on Thursday and Friday from 4-7 pm and on Saturday and Sunday 1-5. This weekend: Mary Ann’s Ginger Spice [aka MAGS], Leaning Chimney Smoked Porter, [which is making its first appearance in 12-ounce six-packs], Autumn Winds [“while it lasts”], Great Ketch [the beer formerly known as 3rd Anniversary], Pour Judgement, and Flagship. As we noted last week, Grey Sail is sporting pink growlers, howlers, and pak-techs [those plastic snap-on can holders] to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with a portion of proceeds donated to the cause.

At Proclamation Ale Company [Thursday 3:30-7 pm, Friday 3:30-8, Saturday 12-7 pm, Sunday [12-5]: Derivative: Galaxy and Mosaic, plus Bosun’s Call [the collab with Rising Tide in Portland, ME, “a 5.4% ABV saison brewed with all Maine-grown wheat and barley, and finished with brett,” tastings only].

At Tilted Barn Brewery on Saturday from 1-4 pm: Farm Girl IPA, jack. [a pumpkin ale made with gourds grown on the farm], and First Harvest [American Pale Ale]. Matt notes: “Construction is in full swing so the Barn is a little chaotic right now.”

* At Foolproof: Peanut Butter Raincloud, Backyahd, Barstool, Raincloud, La Ferme Urbaine, and King of the Yahd [today 5-8 pm, Saturday from 1-5, with tours at 1, 2, 3, and 4 for tastings ($10, includes three samples) and growler fills].

At Crooked Current [today 5-8 pm and Saturday 1-5]: Oatmeal Raisin Stout, Plunderdome Pumpkin Maple Ale, and the supercharged Immorality Pale Ale [with Galaxy hops].

At Newport Storm [Thursday-Saturday 12-6 pm, Monday and Wednesday 12-5]: R.I.P.umpkin, Oktoberfest Marzen Lager, Hurricane Amber Ale, India Point Ale, and Rhode Island Blueberry.

At Whaler’s [Thursday and Friday 4-8 pm, Saturday 1-7, Sunday 1-5]: Imperial Smashing Pumpkin, Flanders Red, Calypso IPA, Ginger Wheat Ale, Redsmith Ale, and Golden IPA.

Hit the websites for updates on Bucket and Ravenous.

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!!!

Beer ’round here: what’s on tap this weekend

Here’s your regularly scheduled growler update!

This week, Dave Witham [aka Evad Nomenclature III] dropped a boatload of Proclamation Ale news. If you missed it, click here for the deluge of big doings. Then head to West Kingston [Thursday 3:30-7 pm, Friday 3:30-8 pm, Saturday 12-7, Sunday 12-5] for growlers/tastings: the Stalk [a double IPA, 8.5%, “sexy hops. JuiceFest. yum”] is still in the haus! Also: Derivative: Mosaic [6% pale ale, “dry-hopped with bazillions of sexy Mosaic hops”] and Dark Sprout [“4.1% abv dark hoppy session beer…looks dark, but still tastes like a dry, light session beer. Simcoe, Citra, Cascade hop combo”].

Grey Sail is pouring Autumn Winds Oktoberfest [which is also available at a store near you], Captain’s Daughter, Flagship, Flying Jenny, Great Ketch, and Pour Judgement [Wednesday-Friday 4-7 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1-5].

Foolproof is open today from 5-8 and Saturday from 1-5 [with tours at 1, 2, 3, and 4] for tastings [$10, includes three samples] and growler fills. There’s a special beer this weekend — Pineapple IPA [made with Mosaic hops] — plus the regulars: Backyahd, Barstool, Raincloud, La Ferme Urbaine, King of the Yahd, and Augtoberfest [which is running low].

On Saturday from 1-4 pm, Tilted Barn Brewery will be sharing a fresh batch of Early Riser IPA, Summer Sol, and the Raff [oatmeal stout].

Crooked Current is now open on Thursday from 5-7 pm, plus Friday [5-8 pm] and Saturday [1 to 5]. On tap: Neapolitan Brown Ale, Kickback American Wheat, and Raspberry Wheat.

Bucket Brewery’s monthly Friday Night Sound Check kicks off at 6 pm, with music by Michael Graham and the Lewd Waiters and food from Noble Knots. It’s $15 at the door, which includes four beer sample tickets [an extra $5 = a souvenir glass and extra beer per pour; bring a non-perishable food item for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and you get a bonus beer ticket]. What’s pouring? Head to Pawtucket and find out! Tastings [and growler fills/six-pack sales] today [1-7:30 pm] and Saturday [11 am-5 pm, $5] and tours on Saturday [1:30, 2:30, 3:30 pm, $13, includes pint glass].

And Whaler’s has Ginger Wheat, “Smashing Pumpkin” Experimental Pumpkin Ale, White IPA, Redsmith Ale, Chinook IPA, and a nameless double pale ale [samples/growler fills].

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!!!

“Get To Know Your Brewer”: Dave Witham of Proclamation Ale; plus, the winner of the Favorite Rhode Island IPA poll

On Tuesday, we learned two important lessons:  1] you can’t publish a blog post without electricity; 2] you can get through an entire day without Pavlovianally checking Twitter/emails/Facebook/watching the next-to-next-to-last Daily Show — and the ordeal improves your quality of life [the roses get smelled]! With an abundance of keyboard- and device-free hours, we finally read Ulysses and Infinite Jest [finishing the last 561 pages of the latter pulp brick by candlelight]. But the juice is on and we’re glad to be back at the B&C desk so we can get to the mega-post that was delayed by Stealth Storm Augustus.

tendrilFirst: the results of the Favorite Local IPA poll, which we launched last week in advance of IPA Day — which is on Thursday. [We’ve “reopened” the poll so you can see all of the nominees, in case you missed ’em last week.] Proclamation Ale Company’s Tendril triumphed with 40 percent of the vote [the beer is currently on the bench, but will return to the rotation]; Tilted Barn’s Half-Mile was a strong second-place, and Foolproof’s Backyahd grabbed the bronze; Grey Sail’s Pour Judgement and Crooked Current’s Immortality rounded out the top five. Cheers to all!

We were going to dry-hop the poll with beer industry pros and B&C readers choosing their fave IPAs, but that endeavor got derailed [click here for the picks that ran in the Providence Phoenix in ’14]. But don’t cry in your hop bomb, Bunky, because we have something much better: the fourth edition of the “Get To Know Your Brewer” series [click through for the first three editions with Armando DeDona of Long Live Beerworks, Josh Letourneau of Grey Sail, and Nichole Pelletier of Crooked Current].

Let’s get to know Dave Witham, president/brewmaster at Proclamation Ale, which has been earning raves for its diverse and delicious slate of “big beer from a small state” since January 2014.

•    •   •

Can you give us a brief bio?

I am a native Rhode Islander who grew up in South Kingstown (four miles from the brewery). Unlike a lot of Rhode Islanders, I did escape for a while and live in Maine, as well as Arizona at different points in time, but alas, the vortex that is RI sucked me back in. I moved to Providence in 2003, and now reside in Warwick. I’m married to my awesome wife (and Proclamation graphic designer) Lori, and have a 2-year-old girl named Harper (who is equally awesome). I was a musician/music teacher in my former life. Also, I really like using parentheses (no…really, I do).

Dave gets wrapped up in his work [photo by Brad Smith]
When did you start as a home brewer? What was your first recipe/style?

I kind of messed around a teeny bit in the ’90s as my brother-in-law at the time was homebrewing for a few years and I remember making a batch of cider. I then followed the cliche and got a Mr. Beer kit for my wedding back in 2009 (it might have been 2008; my wife might murder me.) Anyhoo. I used that a few times and then upgraded to the standard 5-gallon extract and then all-grain from there. If I remember correctly, the first batch I brewed was that Mr. Beer Cowboy Ale (YUM!). A couple nights before I brewed it, I went out in Providence and got hammered off one of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series Ginger Wheat. So I made the awesome decision to add a random oversized amount of shredded ginger into the Mr. Beer kit recipe. (DOUBLE YUM!) I’ve made some bad decisions in my life, and this probably ranks up in at least the top 50% of them.

What inspired you — or gave you the confidence — to make the leap and open the brewery?

This is an easy answer. The answer is: my own stupidity.

Let me explain: My first all-grain batch (early 2011?) was a chocolate milk stout. I made my own recipe up by guesswork of looking at other recipes of beers that I liked, and somehow out of dumb luck, the beer came out pretty good. I entered it in a random Chicago homebrew competition and took 1st place in my category. That was my first all-grain batch. So obviously, the next logical step is to open your own brewery. Yes, that’s the truth. I’m really dumb, and I’m really lucky.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about the life of a brewer?

That it’s totally the awesome party life and everything is a giant pile of sunshine. Running a brewery is a list of the following things: mopping, squeegeeing, wet feet, 14-hour days, hosing stuff down, mopping some more, doing taxes, doing taxes again, filing brewers reports, answering the question, “Bro, where’s Tendril?,” lifting heavy objects repeatedly, burns and finally having a beer.

It’s totally awesome though (no, like seriously).

I’ve had a few people that came through and wanted to volunteer. They were into it for like three hours and then were begging to go home. Sissies.

Do you have a favorite Proclamation beer? And what are your favorite non-Proclamation beers?

Batch 1 of Harper I Apricot. I have like four bottles left. Meh. My favorites that I don’t make are either stuff I can get really fresh/local (Tilted Barn/Grey Sail, etc. etc.) or wild/sour/funk beers I can get from breweries like Allagash, Sante Adairius, Jolly Pumpkin, Cantillon.

Have you ever hit upon a solid brew as the result of a “happy accident”? Something that shouldn’t have worked, recipe-wise, but did?

Sometimes I feel like they are all happy accidents…

Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Dave
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Dave at the Extreme Beer Fest

What’s the best reaction you’ve ever gotten to a beer?

I don’t think I can say what the best reaction was, but I can say that the thing that makes me as giddy as a nine-year-old girl seeing One Direction live (that’s so 2012) is having other brewers that I highly admire coming up at a fest and drinking my beers, enjoying them and asking me questions about them. Pretty much top two are Jason Perkins (brewmaster from Allagash) coming up to our booth the last two years (Sierra Nevada Beer Camp/Maine Brewers’ Guild Summer Session this year). He was hearing great things at both fests, so he came up, tried the beers and we got to talk (and I tried to hold my shit together). At Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest over the winter, we were next to The Rare Barrel and Jay Goodwin was drinking the crap out of Derivative: Galaxy all weekend. That was pretty awesome. (I’m also ignoring the fact that we were the easiest pour for him to get without having to leave the booth, as he could just hand the cup sideways to me and I’d fill it up for him.)

So yeah. I basically have interactions with these great brewers and I try not to act like a little bitch.

You’ve brewed a wide variety of beers — sours, saisons, the Proc-la-Rita, barrel-aged excursions —  in addition to hop-heavy offerings. What are your plans re: having a core or seasonal lineup and still pushing the boundaries and experimenting with diverse styles?

I’m bad at having plans. Really, I am. It’s one of my weaknesses for sure. The one thing I can say is that I brew what I like to drink. A lot of the new one-off batch stuff is to have some variety at the tasting room. The brewery/tasting room is over half of our revenue, and therefore, we have to keep new things coming (and going) in order to keep it fresh down there and keep the regular customers entertained with some variety. Until we can increase our volume in a really significant way, the tasting room variety is the thing that will drive the choice of beers that we create.

procOn July 24 you tweeted, “Just ordered more tanks. More tanks = more beer.” What did you order and what will your capacity be?

Currently we have one 15-barrel, two 10-barrel fermenters, one open 7-barrel, a 3-barrel and 32 oak barrels. I just paid for a new 15-barrel that is shipping in about two weeks and we have two more 15-barrels that we are ready to pull the trigger on. If we get all those online and are able to get a good production schedule, we should be able to do about 1000-1200 barrels annually with just those tanks. We also just hired a new assistant/tasting room manager and we’re getting ready to bring on our first full-time brewer (that isn’t me) in about a month.

Is there room to expand at your current location? It seems like the surrounding space might be available to widen your beerdom.

We are currently getting ready to move our tasting room out in front of the current brewery and building out a 750ish-square-foot place just for the customers. The current brewery is only 1650 square feet, so it’s been getting SUPER TIGHT on the weekends when we can sometimes have 40 people or so in-house at a time. With moving the tasting room into a newly builtout area, it will allow us to just put fermenters/tanks/equipment in the existing footprint of the brewery. We believe this will enable us to get another five tanks in our existing space. Theoretically, we could probably do about 1500 barrels per year without expanding more/taking more floorspace in the warehouse. There is still potential for us to take even more space in the warehouse down the road a little more, but we will see how things are moving.

You’ve announced a couple of times that you were planning to can some of your beers but had a couple of setbacks. On 12.30.14  you mentioned that a “small canning machine” was in the works. What are your packaging plans for the immediate future? Are you sticking with bombers and 750mls for now?

The first time is when we almost pulled the trigger on contract brewing. We still plan on canning…it just gets pushed back, because it’s not the most important thing right now for growing the business. Don’t worry, we will can at some point, but honestly, the tasting room has been so busy that most of the beer is going out in growlers/in-house large format bottle sales. Canning is sexy, but it’s not as cost-effective/labor-effective as large format bottles, and we need to spend all our resources right now on just getting more tanks and making more beer. (That’s good, right?)

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Right! That’s great, Dave! Thanks for the mega-share!

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