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Rhode Islanders: How can we improve the beer scene in our state?

Discussion in 'US - New England' started by Providence, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. I really enjoyed the Revival Saison they've been selling at the Providence Bruins games. Sure beats a bud light which is -gasp- a dollar less.

    Seconding Foolproof too. Their tour is very informative, and you get 3 almost full pints and a glass for $10. Plus you're supporting a new, hopeful RI business. Other than buying local, I would encourage everyone to talk to you RI legislators and get these outdated laws removed. Why is Trinity the only brewery you can fill growlers at in RI?
  2. Are there other laws that we should look at, besides the growler stuff?
  3. Grey Sail Ale is awesome, I love it. Really dig Leaning Chimney too!
  4. I wish I could be more specific, but I can't seem to find the article on it. Hoping someone can chime in on this.
  5. Horbar

    Horbar Advocate (530) Rhode Island Feb 24, 2012

    The IPA is horrible!!! I really wanted to like, but my sink drank it.
  6. Horbar

    Horbar Advocate (530) Rhode Island Feb 24, 2012

    I had 2 offerings from Ravenous Brewing, their Coffee Milk Stout and Blackstone Pale Ale. They were both pretty solid. I actually prefer the pale ale over Sierra Nevada's.
  7. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    This is a dialogue that would be helpful to have with bars and wholesalers. Maybe get in touch with L. Knife's Craft Brewers Guild of RI and see what the challenges are?
  8. Yes. Leaning Chimney is great!
  9. ---
    RE: Beers

    Believe it or not, I was able to find Flying Jenny at the local bowling alley (Old Mountain Lanes, Wakefield). In general, though - these beers aren't easy to find. Aside from the tiny package stores (and perhaps distribution amounts), there's no reason every RI beer can't be in every store.

    Newport Storm has brought some good things to the table recently. I've always considered them hit-or-miss.

    Grey Sail had a few rocky batches early on, but I've been very happy with all of their beers so far.

    Foolproof is too new - the IPA I had was mediocre at best... I'm not dumping them, but there wasn't much hop smell or flavor, but plenty of bitterness. IMO, there was too much bitter throwing it out of balance, but hop flavor goes a long way to offset that. I'm chalking that up to bad first batches - as they get up to speed I hope to see more consistently good beer. Their packaging is awesome!

    ---

    RE: Providence and beer bars - I'm not one to go to bars locally (I save that for travel). I also won't drink more than a beer (or up to two with a long dinner) then drive afterward. Married w/ kids doesn't give me many more options.

    I'd love to see more in Newport - it seems the place. Providence has been aching for more culture, but mass transit in RI is absolutely terrible. Providence is big but the rest of RI is very densely populated, too. Add that to the won't-leave-the-island culture in the state and any sort of beer culture becomes very difficult to maintain.
  10. Newport has a few good beer eateries on Broadway Street - Pour Judgement, Malt and Norey's. I was very impressed with Malt.

    There is Coddington Brewpub in Middletown. I've always found their beers to be very middle of the road though they did try a double IPA a few months ago. But it is what it is. Better than nothing but not going to push the envelope. The problem is if you are driving you can only have one or two lower abv beers on Aquidneck Island and there are always cops on the road. Malt had a great beer list when I went a few weeks ago but I had to pass on the higher ABV stuff with a long ride home.

    But Newport could really use a better beer bar/eatery closer to the water.
  11. rousee

    rousee Advocate (510) Massachusetts Aug 13, 2004

    There was a time several years ago when 3 Floyds distributed in RI and not MA and I dont think anywhere else in New England either. Now I know those days are over but the distributor who did this--Frank (cant remember his last name) was really helping the RI beer scene along. He also brought in some other good brands that hadn't been available before. He doesn't seem to be in the beer biz anymore so thats a shame as he was pushing it along pretty well.

    I also grew up in RI and have many friends that live there now and I agree with the majority of the posters here who say its simply a size thing. Why bother with a smaller state when you can go to a bigger one with the same amount of hassle. I also agree with the notion that if there were some better local brewpubs, that would help things along as well. You really just need 1 local kick ass brewery to come along and things will start to change dramatically. Look at Florida for example--fairly big state, terrible water supply and since Cigar City got rolling, seems like there are some other good ones popping up(Funky Buddha, etc.). I always thought that Big Bear and Titanic in south Florida were good brewpubs though and that was before Cigar City.
    Providence likes this.
  12. Staying true to my community organizer roots, I can't help but feel an urge to harness the human power in this thread. What can we do, right now, as responders and readers of this thread, to improve the beer scene in RI? Should we talk to gov't officials about potential legal road blocks to getting a brew pub going, should we talk to chamber's of commerce about the craft community that is thirsty for a well planned bar, should we go to our local bottle shop and ask how we can help them get better distribution in our state, should we go to our local tap and push them to add a craft tap or two? What can we do, say in the next 48 hours, to help the beer scene in RI?

    Thoughts?
    FrankLloydMike and jedwards like this.
  13. emannths

    emannths Savant (390) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    I think you need to ask the potential owners/investors about the roadblocks, because it's those people you need to convince. Only then to you go to the government/CoC to affect those changes. You might also consider listening to some of the "going-pro" panels to hear about the thought process and hurdles first-hand. Likewise, asking similar questions over at probrewer.com might be helpful.
    Providence likes this.
  14. Pegli

    Pegli Savant (305) Rhode Island Aug 30, 2006

    The best brewers in this state are still the homebrewers. I say set up a network of BA speak-easies...kinda like the underground railroad.
  15. Well I don't know about the underground railroad association........but, I like the idea of a homebrewers getting together. There's got to be a RI homebrewers network, right?
  16. I think the RI beer scene is fine. I guess it helps that I work right in between Track 84/Shannon View and Wickenden Pub, and just down the road from What Cheer. I also live just a few minutes away from Doherty's. All have plenty of great beers on tap. Even in down Newport there are a couple of decent bars with good beers on tap. Check out Yesterday's or Fastnet.

    I do think the local breweries could be a little better, but we're getting there. Newport Storm is overhyped, but Foolproof and Grey Sail have loads of promise.
  17. I agree completely that the RI beer scene is fine. Unfortunately, that's exactly what I am frustrated with; it's simply fine and not great. If we lived in the middle of nowhere with little craft around us, I'd get it. But we're in New England, neighbors immiedately to the north (Mass and Vermont) and neighbors immediately to the south (CT and NY) are light years aherad of us. I think we should be representing a little better. So yeah, we are fine....but we could be so much better (in my opinion of course).
  18. I agree. What I'd like to see is a local brewery really hit it out of the park with a "big" beer like a double IPA or Imperial Stout. Something that gets national recognition here on BA. A beer that causes people to want to travel here just for a taste of it, like how folks travel up to northern VT just for Heady Topper..
    Providence likes this.
  19. The way I understand it is because they have the lisence to serve but not to distribute. The beer they brew on premises can be sold that way, but cant be sold commercially outside the brewery. The ipa you see in bottles is brewed in CT.
  20. As much as I am sick of big beers, especially another DIPA or Imp. Stout, I think you're right. We need hype in RI right quick!
  21. Pegli

    Pegli Savant (305) Rhode Island Aug 30, 2006

    I kinda see three clans - the Rhode Island Fermentation Technologist in South County, those who frequent Basement Brewhaus, and the Woonsocket boys. I don't know of very much intermingling however.
  22. Maybe we should organize a summit? Something where we could get like minded folks together to brainstorm how to get better beer in RI? Obviously beer would be served......Charge admission which would be just enough to cover the cost of beer and the renting of some kind of hall (VFW?) and then have some guest speakers. Someone from a brewery, someone from a beer bar, someone from a homebrew shop and just a general beer enthusiast. Some small break out groups where directive questions could be asked that promoted conversation. (One note taker at each table). The possibilities here are endless......

    Lots of leg work, obviously, but I may be up for something like this when the semester ends (I am currently teaching full time as an assistant professor)......

    Rhode Island Craft Beer
    Where we were, where we are and where we want to be
  23. This is total hearsay, so don't take my word for it at all but I think it's an interesting thing to consider- When I was looking into why RI doesn't allow shipping wine/beer directly to consumers, I spoke with my congressional rep who mentioned there is a faction in the House who have major stake in liquor stores in the state. As a result, they often block legislation favorable to consumers to protect their own interests. I think that direct shipping AND growler fill law changes would be very good moves towards helping the beer scene here. If consumers can turn to sites like letspour.com more easily to purchase excellent beers, liquor stores would be forced to up their game when it comes to craft beer to avoid losing the business. Similarly, if growler fills were permitted more widely, it would be easier for up and coming breweries to distribute their beer locally and have a steady flow of cash that didn't rely on liquor stores prominently displaying their product. Both of these things would probably only have a tiny impact, but they're practical steps that BAs can lobby for, and you've gotta start somewhere.
  24. Wish you could get beer/liquor in RI at grocery stores, convenience stores/gas stations, drugstores, Walmart, etc. I only have seen 2 drugstores that sold alcohol and one of them was a Rite Aid that closed down.
  25. kleo

    kleo Aficionado (210) Massachusetts Apr 27, 2009

    The way I'd like to see the scene improved is by making a sacrifice of all good quality craft beer you can get your hands on to the gods. Just bundle them all up securely, leave them at the abandoned drive-in on 145 in Sutton, MA around 2:15pm Monday of next week. Or if you don't see the gods' rep standing by a black station wagon, wait 15 minutes.
    ShogoKawada and jedwards like this.
  26. You all should have seen RI in 2000. The places you could go to get something decent were few and far between. Everyone in the state should consider themselves lucky we have the amount of places to hang now. The amount of craft beer taps has exploded over the last decade.
  27. For sure. I don't want to deny how much better it has gotten. Nevertheless, it has so much room for improvement it's hard to not to wish for more.
  28. MVP09

    MVP09 Savant (365) Massachusetts Oct 19, 2012

    I had Foolproof's porter last night it was very tasty and being $2 a can makes it taste better. Had some other stuff too but from what I remember lots of coffee light on the smoke. I am getting into porters now and this one is solid.
  29. Pegli

    Pegli Savant (305) Rhode Island Aug 30, 2006

    Back when The Mew's reigned supreme...
  30. Jwale73

    Jwale73 Advocate (670) Rhode Island Aug 15, 2007

    So, just got back from a great 40th birthday beer weekend in VT - HF, Alchemist, Black Back, Hunger Mountain Co-op, Prohibition Pig & Three Penny Taproom. All I can say is WTF? The distribution in VT is nuts plus growler fills! Besides the outstanding locals, they get Cigar City, Cantillon, DFH and Upright among a number of other offerings completely inaccessible to RI. Don't get me wrong - I don't think the beer scene in RI is that bad, but VT is about 600,000 while RI is over a million. Is VT that much more friendly to brewers? Is it the laws around distribution - what's the deal?
    EnronCFO, jedwards and Horbar like this.
  31. Horbar

    Horbar Advocate (530) Rhode Island Feb 24, 2012

    RI politicians, that's all I have to say. $$$$$$
  32. I am sure it's more than just the politicians that have an interest in $$$$$. What about liquor stores that don't want growlers sold anywhere but their stores?
  33. Jwale73

    Jwale73 Advocate (670) Rhode Island Aug 15, 2007

    I think the only place you can get a growler in RI is at a brewpub (e.g. Trinity & Coddington's) and they need to be pre-filled. Definitely not brewery friendly.
    Providence likes this.
  34. No doubt. Nevertheless, if Fool Proof, Newport Storm and Trinity all did growler fills, of all their on beers, on site...I think there'd be a handful of bottle shops that may be rubbed the wrong way.
  35. Horbar

    Horbar Advocate (530) Rhode Island Feb 24, 2012

    Grey Sail and Ravenous are probably the only breweries in RI worth getting a growler from. We need some good breweries, then we can worry about growler fills.
  36. Agreed.
  37. It sucks, bro jams. Trinity and Revival are good stuff. Revival is starting to gain some traction as being a local tap of choice. same for Grey Sail.

    Newport Storm seems to be so content with being mediocre. One out of fifteen beers by them knock my socks off.

    To start, I'd like to see happy hours, growler stations, and local brews in 12pks.
    FrankLloydMike, Jwale73 and jedwards like this.
  38. I can't get into Trinity or Revival. I've tried, oh have I tried, but nothing from either has ever stood out in any way.

    12 packs of Foolproof Golden Ale would be sick.
    Horbar likes this.
  39. Horbar

    Horbar Advocate (530) Rhode Island Feb 24, 2012

    I really was hoping for something good from Foolproof, but that IPA was a mess. If a brewery can't make a drinkable IPA, they need to take a look at their brew before going hog wild in marketing.

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