Foolproof Brewery – The Grotto Has Arrived, Brew News and Much More

Since first sitting down with Nick Garrison a while back, it might sound cliché to say, but a lot has been brewing over at Foolproof. They are still working hard at producing their core lineup of beers (which seem to be growing year after year) and actually includes a revised recipe/version of their flagship Backyahd IPA. Nick told me, “We wanted to keep the profile of the beer but made some tweaks to it. We lowered the bitterness, increased the dry hop and introduced El Dorado hops.” Along with this, they also introduced two limited release beers. The first was their Lab Series IPA and the second was their Federal Hill Ale, the latter being a collaboration with famous RI Chef Walter Potenza. It is described as a pale ale brewed with blood oranges as well as saffron and was dry hopped with Mosiac and Citra hops  – hops that help create complementary citrus/tropical fruit flavors and aroma. The beer had a great initial reception and the plan is to brew it again and release it in conjunction with the Columbus Day holiday which is a big celebration on Federal Hill. As you can tell, Foolproof continues to push their creative boundaries and look to provide more new and exciting releases.

Speaking of new releases, the latest and greatest beer coming out of the Pawtucket brewery is called The Grotto. As Nick explained, “It is a New England style IPA. It’s our newest year round beer.  We used a variety of American hops, including Mosaic and Citra, and left the beer itself unfiltered.” When looking at the can, it is a departure from the traditional look you would associate with the rest of their beers and brand image but the name still associates with their theme of pairing beers with different life experiences. “A grotto, which is essentially a hidden cave, can be a place to escape, like a hidden paradise. We wanted to make this beer like a little getaway. There is plenty of juicy flavor and citrus aroma, which you can relate to a tropical paradise.” The crew at the brewery has been ramping up production having not only first the initial release but also subsequent batches in production with the intent to begin rolling it out into the market. There has been a big push on their social media platforms for the big debut. “When it came to brewing this style beer we stayed in tune with what people are drinking and also what we love drinking. We actually learned from the success of our Federal Hill Ale (the two beers share some similarities).” It is an exciting new release for Foolproof and hopefully one that locals and visitors will be coming out to get their hands on.

Along with The Grotto, there continues to be more news coming out of the brewery and plenty of events going on as well. Nick mentioned, “We are working on a new rotating beer series called Forecast, which will be rolling out in new chapters every three months. It is a play on the weather and how it is ever changing here in Rhode Island and the styles of the beers will be more non-traditional. The first one to come out will be a dry hopped session sour ale. “New innovation is definitely an exciting part of the job.” In addition to their existing and innovative beers, there are some great events to keep an eye out for as well. From their most recent Bach & Beer night which was a big success, to Yoga & Beer nights, comedy events and even the upcoming Donut & Beer night (the perfect combo if you ask me).  As Pawtucket continues to be a hotbed for brewing in RI, Foolproof keeps looking to innovate and pair their ever growing beer selection with a variety of different everyday life experiences. With that, whether you plan on attending an upcoming brewery event or are planning to stock up at your local liquor store, be sure to get your hands on The Grotto soon!

The Beer Box – Exploring the Craft Beer Movement in Puerto Rico

One interesting thing about craft beer is that while it continues to expand throughout Rhode Island and of course the rest of the United States, its growth has also been developing in other countries. Many European countries might immediately come to mind, especially because of their well-known brewing histories but, depending on your travels, you might be surprised to see microbreweries and brewpubs alike popping up in destinations you might not expect. On a recent trip to Puerto Rico (which, as a reminder, is a US territory), I was pleasantly surprised to find an up and coming variety of craft beers in San Juan, as well as on other parts of the island. One place in particular I came across was called The Beer Box. Run by Jorge Castro, this craft beer destination located in the town of Aguadilla is not only Puerto Rico’s first craft beer store/bottle shop, it is also where you will find Boxlab Brewing Co. Brewed by Jorge himself, you can find his beers on draft alongside some other local selections. On an island most famously known for its Pina Coladas, The Beer Box is setting its own path and paving the way for craft beer enthusiasts.

When I had a chance to speak with Jorge I was curious to find out what initially got him into brewing and opening his business in a country where craft beer isn’t necessarily well known. He explained to me, “For the past five years I’ve owned the beer store/bar called The Beer Box. At first I was quite happy to just sell/introduce good beer to the people but being a creative person for most of my life (a musician for many years), I was soon reading about recipe design and beer and food pairings.” And then there was the moment when the brewing started. “My friends Tim and Amanda own a small local brewpub called Del Barril and invited me to try my hand at designing a recipe and actually home brewing it. So they got me into brewing and I was instantly obsessed.” Not only does Jorge brew beer and have it on draft at The Beer Box, but he also offers plenty of other craft brews from the mainland US to choose from and a delicious menu with a variety of choices to accompany all of it. As he told me, “I used to do a lot of traveling and I realized there were no beer stores in Puerto Rico. Five years later we have become a beer bar, kitchen and all (the store part has been reduced to a small to go section). In 2014 we introduced Boxlab, which is our beer label (and future brewery name).” And from there the rest is history, serving up fresh brews and creative dishes for locals and tourists alike to come and enjoy.

Just like other brewers, Jorge said that when it comes to brewing “Inspiration can come from anywhere, music, food, etc. Usually an idea for a flavor profile pops up in my head and I go to this awesome beer design software called Beersmith, punch it in and see how it might come out. Other times I just think of a beer style, go online to read about how people usually brew those styles, then I change everything around and make it my own.” In regards to current and past beers that have been brewed, he gave a great overview of the wide variety of styles. “We started with Demolicion (an American Strong Ale that weighs in at 10%), right from the start we wanted to make a statement and separate ourselves from the IPA/Blonde/Red formulas most breweries start out with.” From there you can find plenty of different choices that rotate through the portfolio. “An imperial stout called Rompcabeza (translated to Head Breaker), a very dry saison named 20 Hz, a Belgian style quad called Quadrafonico and also Sol Invicto which is our Belgo-American style pale ale brewed with Simcoe and Citra hops.” Jorge added, “I enjoy brewing our saison. Although, I do look forward to us having our own facility and brewing all kinds of crazy one-offs, high gravity beers, weird flavors.” It is truly great to see such creativity and passion for brewing coming from the people creating it for others to enjoy.

Even though Puerto Rico is a US territory, being able to brew on the island can be rewarding but also has its own challenges as well. Just like here on the mainland Jorge shared that “There’s a real sense of community (amongst brewers) even though we are all very small. Even compared to the big local brewery (Cerveria de Puerto Rico), we’re still all the little guy (as they say).” And on the flipside, there are also hurdles that need to be jumped and dealt with as well. “An excise tax of $2.55 per gallon is our biggest problem. Archaic, old fashioned alcohol laws and a general clueless attitude towards the industry from the local government doesn’t help either. Of course, availability of ingredients and freight costs are not far behind.” There are also factors like certain people in power and religious groups that tend to frown upon the industry but the hope is that over time things will continue to change for the positive. Another good sign is that not only local microbreweries are growing but over the past 5 or 6 years, American craft beers have done so as well. “Lots of great breweries like Founders, Oskar Blues, Stone and Lagunitas have entered the market and are doing great. There’s new local breweries popping up, like Ocean Lab in San Juan and the upcoming Del Barril in Aguadilla.” Even at their own bar within The Beer Box you can find many other local microbrews on draft such as Boqueron Brewing Co, F.O.K Brewing Co, REBL Brewing and Dragonstone to name a few. As craft brewing continues to grow, it’s amazing to see the community and collaboration it brings with it, even away from the mainland on the island of Puerto Rico.

With not only personally crafted as well as other regional beers available but also a locally inspired menu available at the Beer Box, there has been a positive reception since the doors first opened. “It’s been fantastic! People appreciate the unique styles we are brewing. We get some really interesting reactions from both the beer geeks and the light lager drinkers. It’s wonderful.” He also added, “My big takeaway is being able to share good beer and to see how people react to the fact that beer can taste as good as a proper Belgian Tripel or a complex Doppelbock. I do not feel comfortable calling myself an expert on anything, so I like to think we’re learning together, as craft beer is a relatively new phenomenon in Puerto Rico.” And what might the future plans be for Boxlab Brewing Co? “In the short term we’d like to open a pilot system here in Aguadilla, a 3 BBL system with a small taproom for daylight hours. This place will also brew what we sell at The Beer Box. Long term goals include a bigger brewhouse and the possibility of exporting our product.” When speaking with Jorge and learning about the rise and growth of this industry, it reminds me a lot about how local craft beer started and has become what it is today in Rhode Island. A small state where the industry started off slow but has continued to grow, with a community of people who not only work tirelessly to create new and exciting brews but also the people who appreciate and look forward to them. If you ever find yourself venturing out of Rhode Island, or wherever you call home, and make your way down to Puerto Rico, take a moment to search out into the local craft beer scene and more specifically, take a trip to Aguadilla and The Beer Box. A very big thank you goes out to Jorge Castro for taking the time to educate me on the craft scene not only in regards to Boxlab Brewing but throughout the rest of Puerto Rico as well. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost The Beer Box and Boxlab Brewing!

 

 

(You can find and follow them on Twitter (@BeerBoxPR) and check out their Facebook page as well (https://www.facebook.com/beerboxpr/) for more information as well as different events)

Prost Providence – A Year in Review

It might sound cliché to say, but it truly is funny how fast time flies. One year ago, Prost Providence went from being a fun concept/thought into a live, local perspective into an industry and the people behind it… a group of people I have a deep respect for. Craft beer is something I am passionate about, constantly studying, and learning more and more about each and every day. When you mix that with my love and enthusiasm for Rhode Island, the state I was born and raised in and where I call home, and you have the basic foundation for this blog and the posts I have been sharing over the course of this first year. I’ll be honest, when this all started I wasn’t sure what to expect, but looking back it is easy to say that everything has far exceeded my expectations and hopes for what I would ultimately be able to share.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, it has been interesting to see RI craft beer grow over time and it has been amazing getting to know the brewers and people associated within the industry. Remarking on craft beer’s expansion throughout the country in recent years is stating the obvious but to see its growth and the appreciation for it on a local level has been something I have enjoyed immensely. Each brewer and respective brewery is unique and, in turn, produces a variety of high quality beers not only for locals to enjoy but also brews that have generated buzz from beer lovers near and far. I’ve had the pleasure of living through this progression and take pride in providing a unique prospective for others to read and learn about it.

So one year in… what’s up next for Prost Providence? Ultimately, my goal is to keep providing insightful content for everyone to read and enjoy. The great thing about RI craft beer is that it is progressive and continues to grow, which means exciting new releases both in beers and breweries alike, expansive festivals, unique beer pairings and dinners, and a thriving local bar/restaurant scene that features more local brews and plenty of people who share the same love for this craft just as I do. I’ve honestly only begun to scratch the surface and with each interview, conversation, or interaction there are many more fresh new blog posts to be published. This really has been an awesome journey so far and there is so much more to look forward to in the near and distant future. As always, I want to thank my family, friends, the brewers, those involved in this industry, fellow craft beer enthusiasts and all the other people out there in the community who have supported me along the way. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and prost to this first year and many more to follow!

Long Live Beerworks – A Neighborhood Microbrewery Bringing Fresh Brews to Providence’s West End

Most major cities have different sections or neighborhoods that make them unique and distinguishable from other parts of the city and Providence is no different. First and foremost there is Downtown, with its iconic Superman building, artistic venues like Providence Performing Arts and Trinity Rep, and where you can find the oldest indoor mall in America, The Arcade. Then there is the Eastside, home to higher education institutions Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. It is also one of the oldest parts of the city, with historic homes and streets that date back to the very early beginnings of Rhode Island. And, of course, another recognizable part of Providence is the Federal Hill neighborhood. Known as the Little Italy of RI, this is where you will find a variety of Italian restaurants, pastry shops and little markets (and an area with some historic organized crime connections). If you stray from Atwells Ave and make your way towards the “West Side,” near Westminster Street and featuring a funkier side to the city, you will find the state’s newest microbrewery, Long Live Beerworks. The latest addition to the local craft beer community has come out of the gate firing on all cylinders and is looking forward to welcoming people to come by and try some of the city’s newest brews.

 

For many home brewers, their hope one day is to take their passion and turn it into a career and Armando DeDona is one of the fortunate ones to take that opportunity and make it into a reality. As the owner/headbrewer puts it, “I had been interested in starting my own business for a long time. I wanted the opportunity to be really creative with my passion (specifically beer).”  When it comes to his love for brewing, one can tell that he is very enthusiastic about his craft. “I like the creative process, plus, I enjoy working on something that is solely for enjoyment. At the end of the day, I get to share that enjoyment with my customers.” This also carries over into the recipes and beers themselves too. “A lot of the beers I have on tap are recipes from my home brew past. The cask conditioned beers I feature every Friday is based on whatever is conditioning in the fermenters, and I build upon those recipes and craft them into something different. They can be inspired by anything really, what I see in season at the market, a song I’m digging, etc. At the end of the day, I want to have fun.” Early on it seems like this combination of creativity and fun has easily transitioned into a solid variety of beers for visitors to come in and enjoy.

 

Since opening its doors only nine months ago, Long Live Beerworks has been keeping a constant rotation of brews available on draft. This is done on purpose, as Armando puts it, it is “mostly to exercise my need for a creative outlet and variety.” Some of the beers that have been brewed/featured at the brewery include Lonely Weekend, which is an IPA brewed with Idaho 7 and Citra hops. There is Coarse Grind, a stout made with an expresso blend from local coffee roasters, Dave’s Coffee. You might also come across ‘Lil Sippy, described as a refreshing, dry hopped, session ale. Rounding it out is Heck Hound, a smoky red ale. “I’m really digging smoked beers right now. The smoked characteristics appeal to me because of the close connection with food (which can elevate a good beer)” Armando shared. He added, “I recently re-brewed Heck Hound with a little bit of modification in that I pushed the smokiness. This beer serves a more niche palette and often surprises our customers.” While smoky flavored beers might not be up every beer drinker’s alley, there seems to be no shortage of unique and flavorful crafted brews to choose from.

 

While Armando and Long Live Beerworks might be the newest addition to the RI craft beer community, he finds himself in good company when it comes to one interesting aspect of producing beer in our state and that is brewery space. From the location to physical building size, Armando shared some insight with me, saying, “My brewery is tiny. I have to constantly shuffle around equipment/materials. I can’t work in the brewery when the tasting room is open. I have the fortune of tall ceilings and living close to the brewery, so I can be creative with storage.” While this might sound like a struggle, there is also a positive flipside. “I sacrificed space for being in the city where I live. I didn’t want to necessarily be a destination brewery (although we regularly have people who are traveling through). A lot of my customers live in the neighborhood and can literally walk to our brewery for a tasting or growler fill.” For a smaller, yet creative and welcoming space, Long Live has been getting some positive feedback since its doors opened to the public. “I have really good customers. The tasting room is supposed to be inclusive, so I don’t just get beer geeks, but a range of folks who are interested in our local product. I’m humbled by the overall positivity and support we get from the folks who frequent us.” This neighborhood brewery, like any other, thrives off of support from regulars and visitors who come by to experience a well-crafted local brew.

 

It is great to see new breweries open their doors here in RI and add to an already diverse and ever growing industry. Long Live is fresh on the scene and is embracing its current situation, but also mindful and optimistic about the future. Armando stated that, “In the short term I want to expand our hours, grow our tasting room staff, and become more accessible to consumers. I’ll be starting limited distribution soon as well. I’d love to add bottles/cans to the mix, but that will come down the line.” And for the long term goals? “I’d like to purchase my own building in Providence and expand our production a bit, without losing our connection as a community brewery.” From taking a passion, turning it into a reality and building towards the future, Armando and his Long Live Beerworks have officially joined the ranks here in the local craft beer community. I’d like to take a moment to thank Armando for taking the time to share with me his experiences, vision and details about his life as a brewer here in the West End of the capital city. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Long Live Beerworks!

 

 

 

 

(Go check out Long Live Beerwork’s website (www.longlivebeerworks.com) to find out more about the brewery, what’s currently available on draft and upcoming events. You can also find them on Twitter (@LongLiveBeerRI) and on Instagram (@longlivebeerworks) for new beer releases and even more up to date brewery information.)

Bucket Brewery and O’Crepe – Teaming Up to Put a New Twist on Sunday Brunch

For some time now, Providence (and Rhode Island in general) has gained a reputation as being a foodie and culinary destination. The capital city has its fair share of well recognized dining options, as do plenty of other cities throughout the state. One part of the food scene that has been gaining attention are the local food trucks. You can find them scattered on various side streets, at local festivals and other recurring events, all offering a unique selection of food options to choose from. And what could be better to pair with a delicious bite to eat than a cold local craft beer? While beer might be easily associated with typical pairings like chicken wings, burgers or pizza, it is becoming more common place to find people and restaurants now putting craft brews together with a wider variety of different dishes. This concept of bringing these two things together is what Bucket Brewery had in mind, as they have teamed up with local food truck O’Crepe to now serve up a weekly Sunday brunch at the Pawtucket based brewery.

Bucket Brewery has been producing locally made beers here in RI since November 2012. They have a core lineup that features beers like the Pawtucket Pail Ale, Park Loop Porter, an Irish milk stout called Black Goat of the Woods and a newer addition, Leroy: The Million Dollar IPA. Nate Broomfield is the President of the brewery and he explained to me where the concept came from to offer a Sunday brunch. “When the state passed new laws allowing breweries to sell beer by the glass, I started looking at ways to make the brewery a fun place to hang out. The brunch idea struck when I was at Food Truck Friday and saw O’Crepe. From there it was a lot of brainstorming about how to make something like that work. So many people loved the idea that I decided to go ahead with it.” As Nate went on to say, the idea to team up with O’Crepe for this new event seemed like the perfect fit. “The main consideration was the type of food they serve. Crepes have flexibility to fit both breakfast and lunch perfectly. O’Crepe also has a good reputation. I definitely wanted to pair up with someone who was going to do something high quality. I spoke with Brian and his enthusiasm from the start, as well as his willingness to build something and be creative and flexible, convinced me that he’d be a good partner in this.”

The Brian who Nate mentioned is Brian Sousa, owner of O’Crepe, The Rolling Creperie. For a little insight and background, he told me that, “I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant but I’m actually a pretty risk averse person, so a food truck was the next best thing.” And when his original idea to open a Portuguese cuisine food truck didn’t pan out, he said that “We had to pivot into another cuisine and crepes were something that hadn’t been done yet on a food truck in Providence. My mother has always been whipping up crepes for my family since I could eat solid food so it was something I was comfortable with.” O’Crepe officially opened in August 2014 and for two years now they have been serving up both sweet and savory crepe options to hungry and eager customers. You can find the truck around the streets of Providence, at food truck related events and can even have them cater your own private event. So when it came to partnering up with Bucket Brewery for a Sunday brunch, Brian was fully onboard. “Nate, the owner of Bucket contacted me with the idea. I thought it was great and as soon as we were able to work out the details we got up and running.” As you can probably tell, both Nate and Brian are equally passionate about not only about what they do but about being able to put together a fun, different spin on the Sunday tradition of brunching that a variety of folks will be able to enjoy for months to come.

I was lucky enough to attend the first brunch which took place last Sunday, August 21st and, with a plan in place to make it a weekly event that will carry through into the late fall/winter months, I’m sure it won’t be my last. You may wonder what visitors will have to look forward to on the menu and the great news is that there are a variety of both sweet and savory crepes, along with some non-crepe brunch sides as well. Bucket is serving up their full lineup available on draft, their new Gose Mimosa, or for those opting for something non-alcoholic there is also OJ, milk and coffee to wash it all down. With a very reasonably priced menu on both sides and a café style ordering system, guests won’t miss the traditional brunch lines and crowded waits but will receive the same tableside service they’ve come to expect with food and beverage pairings that rival the best spots in the state. It’s quite true that craft beer and food continue to grow and evolve, especially here in RI, and it is great to see two local favorites team up to create an event that showcases both of these elements. Do yourself a favor and bring your friends, family and, most importantly, your appetite down to Bucket Brewery to enjoy a delicious Sunday brunch. I want to send out a very big thank you to Nate and Brian for both sharing some fantastic information and details about themselves and this great event. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Bucket Brewery and O’Crepe!

 

 

(Be sure to check out both the Bucket Brewery (www.bucketbrewery.com) and the O’Crepe (www.ocreperi.com) websites for more information about these two businesses. You can also find them on Twitter (@BucketBrewery and @Ocreperi), Instagram (@bucketbrewery and @ocreperi) and on Facebook for even more up to date content and updates)

Ravenous Brewing Company – Thirsty Nevermore: Small Batch Brews Crafted in the Heart of Woonsocket

As it has been well documented in previous blog posts, Rhode Island is home to many popular and historic cities and towns. There is the capital city of Providence, the former industrial hotbed that is Pawtucket, as well as touristy seaside destinations like Westerly and Newport. But if you make your way up towards the northeast corner of the state, you will come across another historic (yet slightly less traveled) city of Woonsocket. Officially incorporated in 1888, the city has historic ties dating back to the 17th century when it was inhabited by both the Wampanoag and Narragansett Indian tribes before the land was purchased by Roger Williams in 1661. It served as a popular location for textile mills during the Industrial Revolution due to its proximity to the Blackstone River. Now, in the present day, Woonsocket is home to the corporate headquarters of CVS Health, one of the largest retail/healthcare companies in the United States. With a lofty heritage, locals as well as tourists now also find themselves making trips to this area to visit its very own microbrewery, Ravenous Brewing Company. This fairly young brewery has been producing some small batch, popular brews that have certainly help put their small corner of the state on the map.

Dorian Rave is the founder and head brewer at Ravenous and, as he explained to me, has “always loved things that are craft related, from wood working to wine-making, I’ve always had an interest. A friend of mine had an uncle who made wine and I would enjoy watching the process.” But, as Dorian admitted, he was always more of a beer drinker and so he decided to get a kit to start brewing at home. As time went on and he began getting more and more compliments from friends, the wheels started turning. “When I started looking for a place to brew, I wanted a place that fit and also financially made sense.” Ravenous ended up making a home for itself in Woonsocket and was officially established in October of 2012. While they had found a space, the way they utilize it is constantly evolving. Dorian said, “Every day is a game of Tetris working in our space but we still feel like we have enough room.” Even though it might not be the biggest or most traditional brewery, there is a great local feel and a commitment to providing high quality beers which is evident with each batch being brewed.

When it comes to their beer selection and offerings to visitors, Dorian says, “We go against the trends when brewing. We try not to be too extreme one way or another.” One of the first beers released by Ravenous was their Coffee Milk Stout, which has definitely become a fan favorite and has seemed to develop its own cult following. While locals might not be surprised by the popularity of this beer (considering our official state drink is coffee milk), Dorian actually told me, “We wanted to shy away from having a staple beer, but people love the coffee milk stout.” Don’t think though that this means when it comes to their brews that they are a one trick pony. Blackstone Pale Ale is another popular beer you can find almost year round at the brewery. There is also Bienvenu, a red ale, whose name is a tribute to their hometown of Woonsocket and its deep French roots. Their fall release is usually Black Harvest, which is a unique take on autumn beers because, “we didn’t want to brew to do another pumpkin beer” and so instead they offer a stout brewed with sweet potatoes. There are also special releases to look forward to, such as the Dormum Corvino, their twist on an American Wild Ale. Don’t think that’s all – with some bourbon barrels in house, you never know what limited and specialty brews might be aging as well. This is only a glimpse into the possible options you might find when you visit Ravenous, a place where creativity and quality give guests something to look forward to when they come check out what’s on tap at the brewery.

Being part of the RI craft beer community for close to four years now, Dorian has an honest and positive outlook on how things are going. “We are very tight knit but also competitive. We all push each other and there is no lack of willingness to help, people are all a phone call away. Breweries here in RI are definitely making some great beers.”  Having the support of your peers is something that can make the job rewarding but even more so is the support received from the fans. “The public has done a great job spreading craft beer awareness around here. For us it’s all about sharing an experience here at the brewery. 99% of the people that come in here have craft beer in common with the person next to them.” At the end of the day, the labor of love for brewing translates to great beers that invite people in the door and keep them coming back. “We really want to open a person’s mind to new things, that’s the key.”

Ravenous is also different from most other traditional microbreweries in the sense that both Dorian and Chris Combs (brewer/brewery manager) are only onsite to brew part time, which one day might turn into a full time gig. Even with that being the case, you can feel their sense of positivity and optimism not only in the present but also for the future. “There is always a constant push,” Dorian says. “But we are taking our time. We never want our quality to suffer. Home is always first, making the best beers we can for RI to enjoy. We hope one day to expand partially into Massachusetts and Connecticut. It’s going to be a slow push; we definitely want to grow organically.” He also added, “The possibilities for growth are there, especially with the new laws. They make more sense and definitely helps our business. It brings awareness to RI beers and helps us keep spreading the word.” As it has been mentioned, Ravenous might not look like or operate the same as most typical breweries, but that uniqueness helps make them a destination worth visiting when it comes to local craft beer. There is an obvious appreciation and sense of pride when it comes to the city they call home and they welcome you to come enjoy that with them one tasting or pint at a time. I want to thank Dorian for taking time out of his schedule to sit down with me and sharing his knowledge, insights and passion about brewing and the local community. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Ravenous Brewing!

 

 

 

(Check out the Ravenous website (www.ravenousbrew.com) for details about them, latest news and releases, as well as brewery tasting hours. You can also find them on Twitter (@RavenousBrewCo) and Instagram (@ravenousbrew) for various content and updates)

An Update from the Desk of Prost Providence

Summertime is in full swing here in Rhode Island and it is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather is great which means there are plenty of cookouts, weekends spent at the beach and lots of time being spent with family and friends. I’ve also had the chance to do some recent traveling as well, with 10 days spent in Greece, a mini getaway with friends on Block Island and even enjoyed a nice long 4th of July weekend up in North Conway, New Hampshire. With all of this going on, the blog has been on a little summer hiatus, if you will. But rest assured that I have also been out and about trying new local brews, chatting with the people who craft and enjoy them, all while working on some brand new interviews and posts for readers to enjoy.

For a sneak peek into what has been brewing here at Prost Providence, I’ll be featuring new information and insights from Ravenous Brewing, Long Live Beerworks, and catching up with Newport Storm. Also, to mix things up and stray from the local scene here in RI for a little bit, I’ll be recapping my visit to Santorini Brewing Company (aka Little Donkey).  They are only microbrewery on the Greek Island of Santorini which I was lucky enough to check out while on vacation. Honestly, there is never a dull moment, especially when it comes to craft beer and I’m excited to be working on all this new content.

As a part of this update post I wanted to take a moment to mention that after lots of back and forth and hard work by many people, better beer laws have finally been passed and are in full effect here in RI! For those who haven’t heard, on Tuesday June 28th, Governor Gina Raimondo signed Senate Bill 3053 Substitute A and House Bill 8100 Substitute B into law. In summary, this now allows breweries to sell up to 288 ounces of beer for off premise consumption (a big increase from the previous 72 ounce limit) and 36 ounces to be enjoyed for on premise consumption. This is a huge victory for our microbreweries who are now able to not only provide tastings and tours but also offer the opportunity for visitors to stick around for a pint or two and bring even more great beer home to enjoy.

Wrapping everything up, I’d like to take a minute to stop and thank my family, friends and all the people who have supported Prost Providence along the way so far. The amount of support, encouragement and feedback I’ve received continues to motivate me to get out there, explore our local community even further and gather more information to share. I truly appreciate the brewers and all those working within the local craft beer scene for taking the time to sit down and share with me their knowledge and passion. It’s always fun for me to strike up a conversation at a backyard BBQ or with a stranger at a bar or brewery and be able to talk about the great things going on within the local beer community, all thanks to your continued support. On behalf of myself, the blog, and of course local craft beer here in Rhode Island, I raise my glass and Prost Providence!

Crooked Current Brewery – Political Satire & Craft Beer Being Brewed Together in Pawtucket

For being the smallest state in the US, Rhode Island has a very long and storied political past. Many prominent figures and infamous events make up the state’s roller coaster of a landscape, from the positive to the straight up negative, to the unique “situations” and pretty much everything imaginable in-between. It all started with our state’s own founding father, Roger Williams, who was originally banished from Plymouth, Massachusetts’ colony because of his extreme views on freedom of speech and religion. And with a founder who was vocal enough to be kicked out of a “radical” state like Massachusetts, our state was of course the first of thirteen colonies to renounce our allegiance to the King. With an impactful start to its freedom, it was seen as the rebellious child in an otherwise united family. The last to sign the Constitution, rallying for a Bill of Rights only then to become heavily involved in slave trade, the only state that didn’t ratify the 18th Amendment (prohibition), etc. You can start to see how the state became slightly contradictory when it came to early politics and it has only continued to follow this pattern, gaining a reputation for being one of the most politically corrupt states in the country (be sure to Google: Buddy Cianci, Edward DiPrete, or 38 Studios for more current examples). And so it is only fitting that one of RI’s newest breweries is rightfully/playfully named to allude to this intriguing aspect in the state’s history. Located in Pawtucket, the brewery is known as Crooked Current and they have been building a reputation on creative and quality beers, not just their catchy brewery name.

Nichole Pelletier and Jay Lourenco are the owners and creative minds behind Crooked Current. The brewery itself opened its doors for business in October of 2014, making it one of the youngest microbreweries in the state. “One day we were talking over dinner and I asked Nichole, ‘what do you want to do?’ and she said, ‘make beer’,” Jay explained. “Nichole is a great cook and she had gotten great feedback and reviews not only for her food but also for her homebrews.” As Nichole added, “I’m really good at cooking chili and my recipe always included putting a beer in it. It was an ah-ha moment… why not brew the beer to actually use in the chili!” From the homebrew stages, Jay and Nichole decided to go forward with their plan to open a brewery and coincidentally found a home for Crooked Current in the original space where Bucket Brewery first got its start. Not only did they take over Bucket’s former home in Lorraine Mills, through some fortune and luck they also ended up with the same equipment they used, all within what is quite possibly the smallest brewery space in the smallest state resulting in their launch as one of the newest additions to the RI craft beer community.

In recent months, the brewery has transitioned to a larger location within Lorraine Mills. “It was a no brainer to move to this new space and anything is possible for the future. We aren’t necessarily looking to expand right now, but if the opportunity presents itself…” said Jay. Their current space allows for more visitors now and is very welcoming for people to come by and sample their latest brews. Open, bright, and with more wall space for their witty, local political comics, fans will find themselves staying longer with larger groups.

When it comes to the beers at Crooked Current, Nichole is the creative mind behind the concepts and recipes. As she explained, “I’m a lifelong student and constantly making improvements and looking to learn. Sometimes actual ingredients or culinary experiences will inspire or present a challenge to create a beer.” And unlike most other breweries out there, Crooked Current doesn’t find themselves with one distinct flagship beer. “If we had to have a “flagship beer” our oatmeal raisin stout seems to stick around based on customer reaction and it’s what people seem to think of as our flagship,” said Jay. Instead of finding a mainstay, their lineup of beers being offered is a selection that seems to rotate on a frequent basis. Since they first opened their doors they have brewed a variety of beers that pay homage to our interesting political climate such as their Immorality Pale Ale, Kickback American Wheat, Plunderdome Pumpkin Maple Ale, Extortion Eggnog Milk Stout and Hawaiian Robust Porter, just to name a few. As Jay mentioned, “Our presence is here within these four walls and is dictated by our system. It’s about keeping people up to speed (via social media) and its rapid movement with our beers.” Nichole added that, “We are building a portfolio of styles. It’s nice to try different releases based on outcry and anticipation. Demand grows by word of mouth, which we thrive on, and another year of people hearing about it and wanting it. Honestly, it’s a nice model right now with this approach and this size system.”

Being one of the smallest and most recent breweries to come to RI might seem like a challenge for Nichole and Jay but they seem to be holding their own and doing well making a name for themselves amongst the state’s other breweries. “Most industries are cutthroat… we are super happy to be close with one another. It really is a cool feeling and I can’t describe another industry like this,” said Jay. “Being in Pawtucket has met and exceeded our expectations and there is great comradery here.  Obviously the word is still getting around not only about Crooked Current but about craft beer in RI as well.” For Nichole, she has a unique perspective to add, being the only female head brewer in the state. As she explained, “When new people show up they direct questions towards Jay about the beer. And when they find out I brew it, it definitely surprises people. I especially like seeing the excitement in women’s eyes when they find out, it really makes me feel great!” Crooked Current might not fit the typical mold when it comes to brewing due to their size and the interesting flavor profiles but it is this approach that has helped them gain attention and make their mark on our local craft beer community.

Just as with any brewery, it is hard to predict what the future holds for Crooked Current. They are still embracing the change that came with the move to their new space in Lorraine Mills. As for the beers, fans and guests at the brewery can expect more great, sometimes unexpected, brews to look forward to. Jay went on to explain, “Count on more styles to continue to come. Nichole keeps me on my toes and enjoys being spontaneous and customers will have a fun time with what she brews up.” And as Nichole added, “It’s incentive for customers to return on a constant basis and chase what’s new, that’s our focus. Other breweries have flagships, but there will always be a wildcard. It’s just another great reason to come to Pawtucket.” With that being said, I would like to say thank you to both Nichole and Jay for opening their doors and sitting down to discuss their continued growth and the exciting changes happening at their brewery. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Crooked Current!

 

 

 

(Check out Crooked Current’s website (www.crookedcurrentbrewing.com) for more information about the brewery and different beers they might be brewing. You can also find them on Twitter (@Crooked_Current) and on Facebook for even more content and updates about what is being released.)

Grey Sail Makes Big Waves with New Tap Room

When I originally wrote about Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island a couple of months back, I mentioned that they were working on opening a brand new tap room. Well, the time has come and this Sunday, May 29th, the new space will be ready and officially opening its doors to the public from 12pm – 5pm*. The original tasting room was located in the front of the brewery where visitors could sample beers, get growlers filled and purchase various Grey Sail merchandise. The crew at the brewery definitely utilized its original space to its full potential but the new tap room will offer a larger, more unique setting that new guests and regulars alike can look forward to.

Located in the historic home right next door to the brewery is where you can find the new tap room that has been newly renovated and offers a bigger space, serving up a larger variety of choices than before. The taps will of course feature the full lineup of Grey Sail’s own brews but will also include other local as well as imported craft beers. In addition, they have dedicated taps specifically for local wine from nearby vineyards.

Here is the official press release from owners Alan and Jennifer Brinton:

Grey Sail Tap Room will open its doors at 65 Canal Street, Westerly, RI on Sunday, May 29th.   Located in an historic and iconic house in Westerly’s North End, this house-turned Tap Room maintains its original character and charm with murals decorating the interior walls, marble fireplaces, and a courtyard fountain, while adding a bocce court, hand crafted bar, and a full tap system. 

 Featuring all of Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island’s beer, as well as other local craft beer, unique craft imports and local wine, the tap room will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 3 to 9p.m. and Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Noon – 9p.m. 

 I, for one, plan to be there to celebrate the grand opening this Sunday afternoon and hope that you will join me as I prost to Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island!

For details about what is available on draft and more information specific to the new venue, be sure to check out their website: www.greysailtaproom.com.

 

*this weekend’s hours will differ from normal business hours; keep an eye out for longer hours soon.

RI Girls Pint Out – Bringing Together Women & Beer One Pint at a Time

As the craft beer scene continues its growth across the nation, more and more people are finding ways to learn about different brews by interacting with other like-minded individuals, all while enjoying a product that is made in their local area. There are festivals, homebrew clubs, and a variety of groups who host events that help bring enthusiasts together. Over the years all of these avenues have seen their fair share of growth right here in Rhode Island. One such organization with a national presence, known as RI Girls Pint Out, established its own chapter right here in Little Rhody in 2013. The group’s purpose is to “build a community of women who love craft beer” (per their website). I had the opportunity to sit down with Meredith and Keri, our state’s chapter founders and organizers, to find out more about just what this local division is all about.

Both Meredith and Keri come from different backgrounds but share a love for beer and for their chapter’s involvement in the craft scene here in RI. As Meredith explained, “I had been following the Pint Out Boston chapter for a while. I’ve been in RI for 9 ½ years and with craft beer starting to grow I wanted to start up a local chapter here.” So in 2013, RI Girls Pint Out was founded. “I felt it was a way to support RI brewing and was also a great way to get women out and involved as well.” It was a year after that, at What Cheer Tavern, where Meredith and Keri actually met and since then have been working to spread the word and promoting the local chapter through various events and gatherings across the state.

It seems like the chapter itself is coming along at a perfect time in conjunction with our state’s craft beer scene. “Craft beer has grown exponentially here in the state. It’s a great scene that is really nice, collaborative and supportive. I’m excited to see RI on the map,” said Meredith. And while the group itself wants to promote women getting out to grab a brew or two with them, they don’t necessarily restrict others from coming out to join them either. I actually became familiar with the group at an event that I attended last year which took place at Stock Culinary Goods. It was at this event I first met Meredith and Keri and got a sense of how friendly, enthusiast and passionate they were about promoting craft beer through this local chapter.  “We aim for one event per season and mix in some casual monthly meetups. It’s low commitment and we get some great turnouts… and sometimes it also ends up being just the two of us.” As Keri added, “It is a great way to meet people and see their passion about beer.” From casual bottle swap events, to more formal get-togethers, RI Girls Pint Out are excited about bringing people, more specifically women, together to enjoy locally crafted beers.

So what might the future hold for RI Girls Pint Out? As Meredith puts it, “Interest in the group has grown as craft beer here in RI continues to grow. We love and continue to support local and having women come together is great. And who knows? Maybe one day in the near future we would love to do a collaborative beer with one of the breweries here.” The group continues to stay active by coming up with new ideas for their own events or locations for meet ups while also attending other local happenings and beer-centric gatherings. “We like to volunteer at fests and other events, it helps us spread the word and bring attention to our organization,” said Keri. You can tell that both Meredith and Keri embrace the local craft beer scene and are passionate about their local chapter as it continues to grow over time. And it is on that note I would like to thank the dynamic duo that is Meredith and Keri for their time, perspectives and the great conversation about all things craft beer. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost RI Girls Pint Out!

 

 

(To find out what RI Girls Pint Out are up to, be sure to go like their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RIGPO).  You can also follow them on Twitter (@RIGirlsPintOut) and Instagram (@rigirlspintout) for updates and to follow their craft beer journey)