The Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket: The Elite 8; plus, Foolproof and Proclamation on the Extreme Beer Fest

dunk-beer-glassOn March 18, we kicked off our take on March Madness: The Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket. The Sweet 16 featured eight “teams” from Providence/Warwick and eight other superb watering holes from all over our tiny but potent state. After five days of frenzied voting, which included a few very close finishes, the results are in and we’re ready to present the next round — the Elite 8.

In case you missed the initial pairings, here’s the Sweet 16 bracket:

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And now, the Elite 8 [we wanted to advance the teams on the Sweet 16 layout but had to make a new bracket because Free Bracket Generator.com refuses to generate free brackets today]:

Elite_8_1st

 

And here are the nicknames we hatched for the teams:

Doherty’s Ale House Partiers • Doherty’s East Ave Freezeouts • Julians Juggernauts • Mews Tavern 69ers • Pour Judgement Deciders • Stevie D’s Wonders • Track 84 Porters • What Cheer Netops

The Elite 8 will run through Wednesday [3.25], so spread the word and support your faves. The Final Four will face off from Thursday [3.26] through Sunday [3.29]. And 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.

       

Beer Advocate’s 12th Annual Extreme Beer Fest , the self-proclaimed “ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity,” was held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on March 20 and 21, with 70-plus breweries pouring a jaw-dropping list of rare and boundary-stretching beers at three sessions. The EBF is an invitational event, and Rhode Island was proudly represented by Foolproof Brewing Company and Proclamation Ale Co. We asked Nick Garrison and Dave Witham for their perspectives on the one-of-a-kind weekend.

The Foolproof crew [Nick, center] with Sam Calagione and Jason and Todd Alström
Nick said: “Extreme Beer Fest was an incredible experience for the Foolproof team, and we were honored by the opportunity to represent Rhode Island craft beer at the festival. The reception to our beers was really positive, and I think we expanded people’s views on our brewery and the type of beers we are capable of brewing. Our peanut butter porter was the biggest hit, though Pineapple Prince — cask IPA aged on half a pineapple and dry hopped with Citra and Amarillo — was a close second. We also were pouring a keg of Vintage Revery 2013 from our very first batch ever [which tasted amazing, by the way] and La Ferme Urbaine Wild Oak — our farmhouse ale soured in a Woodford Reserve barrel over six months. There were so many amazing offerings from breweries all over the country, both obscure and well-known. [Dogfish Head founder and president] Sam Calagione and the Alström brothers [Beer Advocate founders Jason and Todd] also stopped by our booth to hang out and try our beers — that was a special moment for me and the team. The EBF experience reminded me how lucky I am to work in such a fun and collaborative industry.”

Sam and Dave

And Dave shared these words: “We had an awesome time at EBF. We were totally thrilled to be invited [as such a small brewery], and it’s so incredibly crazy and surreal to be pouring beers alongside many of these breweries and brewers that we look up to and idolize. The people in the brewing community are so friendly and welcoming as a whole, and there was a great feeling of camaraderie between all the people in the industry, no matter the size of the brewery, big or small. From a small brewery’s perspective, the fest was fantastic. We noticed a definite trend throughout every session: at the start, we would be pretty dead [no lines at all], but as the session continued we would get busier and busier. Word would start to spread about certain beers we were pouring, and the eventgoers would start coming around to find those beers. In particular, our Derivative, and Harper I Apricot were the most popular with the attendees. From an eventgoers’ perspective, the sessions were filled with so many great beers. I commented to many of the brewers/workers/attendees that this brewfest in particular had such a high quality level of liquid. I drank probably around 50 different samples of beer throughout all three sessions, and for the first time at any fest, there were no beers that I didn’t finish. That’s incredible [hey, I’m pretty critical and picky]. I had awesome beers from The Rare Barrel, Night Shift, Allagash, Crux Fermentation Project, 4 Hands, Right Brain, Jackie O’s, Night Shift, OEC, Treehouse, Due South, and a ton more. It seems like all of the breweries are escalating their game, and it’s so excellent for craft, as well as the craft consumer. Overall, an excellent time. We got to meet a ton of awesome people [including Sam Calagione, who came by the booth for a few minutes to hang out!), drink a ton of awesome beers, and just relax and realize that we are in one of the greatest goddamn industries while it’s in its golden age. We’re supremely lucky and we got to enjoy ourselves while…working? (Wait, this is work?)

“P.S. Go buy some Derivative in the stores later this week when it drops.”

P.P.S.: Check out the “Top 5 In Your EBF Experience” thread at BeerAdvocate.com to see the raves for Proclamation and Foolproof. Congrats, guys!

March Madness: The Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar Bracket

dunk-beer-glass’Tis the season for Bracketmania, so we decided to get in on the fun and ask YOU to vote for your Favorite Rhode Island Beer Bar.

It was a big challenge to settle on a Sweet 16; we consulted with a few experts, checked the ratings and reviews at the beer sites, and a consensus emerged, which helped to determine the seeding. We tried to place the teams into four geographical regions but settled on “Providence/Warwick” for one side of the bracket and “Outside Providence/Warwick” on the other. And we left a write-in option — a “play-in game” — to accommodate the fine establishments that didn’t make the cut [note: we didn’t include brewpubs, since most of them only serve their own brews; that category could be fodder for a future poll]. Write-ins — aka “how could you leave out _______ ?!?!?!?!?” [the flipside of “how could you put in _______ ?!?!?!?!?”] — can be submitted in the “Leave a comment” link at the bottom of this post or sent to bottlescansclaphands.com.

The Sweet 16 voting will run through Sunday [one vote per reader — tell your friends!]; on Monday [3.23], we’ll post the Elite 8, and you can get ready to make even more difficult picks…

Support your “favorite teams”! Enjoy the Madness!

UPDATE [3.19]: Our teams need nicknames! So here they are! [They haven’t been “approved” by the establishments; we hope they like them; yes, there are a coupla groaners/eye-rollers.]

Track 84 Porters Julians Juggernauts The Avery Bradleys What Cheer Netops The Scurvy Doghouse Doherty’s Ale House Partiers Rogue Island Rascals Doherty’s East Ave Freezeouts Chomp Open Widers The Malted Barley Mash Tuns Pour Judgement Deciders Norey’s Stars Mews Tavern 69ers Stevie D’s Wonders 84 Tavern On Canal Boaters

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And [with a nod to the Farrelly brothers] here’s the other half of the bracket:

Ask Bottles & Cans! / Bottles & Cans asks you; plus, an Alpine update

beer-askWe’re closing in on our 100th post and, like many people, we have an inordinate fondness for round numbers. So in the run-up to The Century Mark on Monday, we’re going to look back, look forward, and announce a Big Giveaway on Friday. [Well, a small giveaway, but it’s semi-rare and semi-valuable.]

Today we’re launching a new feature: Ask Bottles & Cans! Do you have a question about the Rhode Island beer industry? Want to know the inspiration behind a local brew’s name? Wondering why you can’t get more than 72 ounces of beer at local breweries? Ask away and we’ll try to get the answers. Hit the comment link at the bottom of this item and/or send your inquiry to bottlescansclaphands@yahoo.com.

And we’d like to ask for your input re: the fine establishments that are listed in the Beer On Tap and Beer To Go sidebars. If there’s a better beer store or bar that should be added, please let us know. Bigger’s not always better: we want to include everyone who is stepping up their beer game. [Note: we know a few places that should be on the list, but they don’t have sites to link to. When we’re in update mode, we’ll figure out a way to get them represented.]

alpine• Hop to it: If you want to be the first in line for a taste of the goodness from Alpine Beer Company, then shovel the driveway [again!] and get ready to head to Stevie D’s in Cumberland [401.658.2591] and Chomp in Warren [401.289.2324] for Hoppy Birthday, and Loie Fulller’s in Providence [401.273.4375; beer TBA]. The Alpine may start flowing on Thursday, but contact those fine establishments for specific ETAs. When we get more log destinations we’ll share ’em on Twitter @BottlesCansRI.

• And let’s raise a glass to George Harrison, who would have been 72 today:

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….

2014: The year in beer ’round here

We’ll start sharing new beer news on Monday, but let’s take a look back at a very eventful 12 months in our local beer circles. Wotta year!!

JANUARY

Whaler’s Brewing Company of Wakefield gets its license; they open their doors for tastings and growler fills on May 17.

proc_handlesFEBRUARY

Proclamation Ale Company, helmed by former music teacher/musician/stay-at-home dad/homebrewer Dave Witham, debuts at the Rhode Island Brew Fest [get your tix for the 2015 edition, on January 31] and opens for growler sales and tastings. His motto: “Big Beer From a Small State.” He tells us: “I [don’t] want to make middle of the road beers that one would sit and idly drink. I [want] to make beers that grab one’s attention with more extreme flavor profiles and complexity, all while maintaining some sense of balance.” Mission accomplished!

MARCH

Newport Storm’s Cyclone Series, which kicked off in 2006 with Alyssa, an extreme brown ale, reaches the end of the line [and the alphabet] with Zach, an extreme oatmeal stout.

APRIL

The Brewers Association issues its list of the top 50 breweries of 2013 [based on sales], and Narragansett Beer is one of three new additions, ranking 49th.

Placentia, California’s The Bruery, which does everything big [bottles, ABV, styles, flavor, and price] and Spoetzl Brewery, the Texas company [the fourth-largest craft brewery in the US] that makes Shiner Bock [and other brews], come to the Ocean State.

MAY

Narragansett Del’s Shandy is released and sets off a buying frenzy. “When it came to our second ‘Hi Neighbor Mash Up’ collaboration,” ’Gansett prez Mark Hellendrung said, “Given the sessionable style of our Lager, and the growing popularity of shandys, we knew a collaboration with Del’s would create a quintessential summer brew that generations of New Englanders would be thrilled about.”

The state’s fifth brewpub, Brutopia Brewery, opens in Cranston. Brewmaster Sean Larkin adds another notch on his mash paddle, adding to his beermaking duties at Trinity Brewhouse, Revival, and Narragansett [he helms the seasonal and specialty releases].

In the 17th annual [and final] edition of The Best, the readers of the Providence Phoenix select Doherty’s Ale House as Best Bar, Beer Geek; Revival Brewing as Best Brewery; Trinity Brewhouse as Best Brewpub; and High Spirits as Best Liquor Store, Beer Selection.

JUNE

Pawtucket’s Brewery 401, the state’s smallest beermaker-to-be, changes its name to Crooked Current Brewery because Stony Creek Brewery of Branford, CT, trademarked the 401 area code for beer-related use. They declare that their “(401) IPA is produced specifically for beer lovers in Rhode Island,” though the recipe is virtually identical to their CT-“specific” (860) and (203) brews. P.T. Barnum would be so proud!

Newport Storm releases its first-ever mixed box: the 12 Sheets To the Wind Summer Variety Pack.

Yuengling — “America’s oldest brewery,” the pride of Pottsville, PA — returns to Rhode Island after a 20-year absence . . . Spencer Brewery,  the first Trappist brewery in the US [in Spencer, MA, about 11 miles west of Worcester], and Michigan’s New Holland Brewing are now distributed in Rhode Island.

brewbusJULY

The Rhode Island Brew Bus hits the road. Owner Bill Nangle says, “We are focusing on the craft of brewing and how it is made. This will not be a booze cruise — we are all about the education of great local beer!”

After more than two years of legal wrangling, Nikki’s Liquors moves to its gorgeous new location on Branch Ave in Providence.

AUGUST

After 18 years — and 1867 batches of brew! — Sean Larkin hangs up his mash paddle at Trinity Brewhouse and goes all in at Brutopia, where he ramps up production of Revival Brewing’s beers; bottles of Zeppelin and Burnside Pale Ale soon follow.

On August 1, Foolproof, Narragansett, Proclamation, and Trinity Brewhouse head north to Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America fest in Portland, ME, one of seven events in the “largest craft beer celebration in history” to toast the opening of SN’s new brewery in Mills River, NC.

SEPTEMBER

Stevie D’s, the beer bar mecca in Cumberland, opens a second location at the former home of the legendary Lincoln Bar & Grille in Riverside.

Foolproof Brewing Company starts distributing in Vermont.

Tilted Barn Brewery, an offshoot of Matt and Kara Richardson’s Ocean State Hops farm, is licensed as the state’s first farm beer maker. [They share their first batch of brews on November 22.]

OCTOBER

The second annual batch of Narragansett/Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout — six times bigger than the first release that disappeared in a week in 2013 — hits stores . . . ’Gansett expands its reach to Portland, OR and Chattanooga, TN. . . And they reveal their next mash-up: Lovecraft Honey Ale, a partnership with Revival Brewing [which will be released on January 19].

glass_and-Can Grey Sail launches Captain’s Daughter, a double IPA packed with Mosaic hops. You may have heard that it has made quite a splash.

Proclamation Ale announces an expansion; the news is modified and then updated on December 30.

San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery, named after the ratification that repealed Prohibition; British Columbia’s Central City Brewers + Distillers [try their Red Betty IPA]; and Lewiston, ME’s Baxter Brewing squeeze onto local shelves and try to grab some tap handles.

The Providence Phoenix/NewPaper ends a 36-year run; the three-year-old Bottles & Cans & Just Claps Your Hands franchise goes all-digital and mostly-daily @ bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com.

NOVEMBER

Revival, Grey Sail, Bucket Brewery, Brutopia, Narragansett, Trinity Brewhouse, and Foolproof are medalists at the 18th Annual Great International Beer & Cider Competition [click the link for the categories and winning brews].

Newport Storm’s Annual Release ’14 is most likely the “world’s first snow beer.”

DECEMBER

Crooked Current Brewery is the people’s choice in the 1st Annual Bottles & Cans & Just Clap Your Hands Favorite Rhode Island Brewery Poll.

Foolproof adds New Hampshire to its distro network, and Newport Storm starts shipping to Pennsylvania.

Grey Sail blows out three candles with the release of 3rd Anniversary, a top-notch imperial IPL, and Captain’s Daughter is deemed “a happy find” by the Boston Globe’s Gary Dzen.

The Brewers Association shares a slew of stats and stuff in their report, “The Year In Beer: 2014 Craft Beer In Review.”

Jack’s Abby Brewing may [“nothing is finalized”/keep your fingers crossed] come to Rhode Island in 2015 . . . .

Narragansett Beer prez Mark Hellendrung gives Bottles & Cans an exclusive peek at their plans for 2015.

We’re anticipating another big year of beer and cheer in 2015. Sign up NOW to share the fun!

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AND if you have beer news and/or feedback and/or comments, please share ’em at bottlescansclaphands@yahoo.com.