Bottles and Cans and Just Clap Your Hands: ’Gansett’s Battle Roy-ale

Plus, Pearl Jam and the Great Intl. Beer Fest
By LOU PAPINEAU  |  October 27, 2011

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DEMOCRACY! Narragansett Beer's craft brews — Fest, Porter, Bock, and Summer Ale — are all seasonal delights (especially the Bock; let's skip fall and winter and get right to spring; no, let's not, then we'd miss the Porter, the delicious winter warmer which just arrived in stores). In 2012, they'll launch their first year-round cans of craft goodness, and they want you to select what style will join the "Hi, Neighbor!" ranks. The contending ales: Cream and Rye, both creations concocted by brewmaster Sean Larkin. The candidates have snappy slogans: "Some people look fondly back on the age of the milkman. For us, it's the beer wagon" and "America was founded on the idea of freedom, but rye had a lot to do with it, too." 'Gansett made a Cream Ale in the '60s and '70s, but has never ventured into the spicy rye realm. There is an abundance of great rye beers (start with Founders&sdquo; Red's Rye PA and Sixpoint's Righteous Ale, and pick up a six of Ryan, the latest entry in Newport Storm's Cyclone Series) and only a few cream ales (topped by Haverhill's Haver Ale and Sixpoint's Sweet Action), so maybe that smoother style would be the better choice (plus the can has a classy rendering of the State House, while the rye has a generic beer wagon tableau).

The race runs through November 28 at narragansettbeer.com/2011/10/pick-gansetts-first-year-round-craft-beer; 12 voters will get a free six-pack of the tallboys when the people's choice is released in March 2012.

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EVEN FLOW Pearl Jam fans are used to seeing Eddie Vedder brandishing a bottle of wine (or three) onstage. But on the next tour, he may be hoisting bombers of Faithfull Ale, the latest offbeat creation from Dogfish Head which was created in celebration of the band's 20th anniversary (which has also spawned a Cameron Crowe documentary, a soundtrack, a coffee table book, the deluxe reissue of vs. and Vitalogy, and the PJ20 festival in Wisconsin). The Belgian-style golden ale (named after a song from the band's fifth album, Yield) was brewed with black currants and boasts a 7% ABV.

Dogfish Head head Sam Calagione said, "We feel an affinity for Pearl Jam as a long-player band in a singles-obsessed world." The limited edition should be in stores in Massachusetts this week. Also look for the re-releases of Dogfish's nods to Miles Davis (the formidable Bitches Brew, a Russian Imperial Stout) and Robert Johnson (Hellhound On My Ale, a "super-hoppy ale" with a touch of lemon). (In other Seattle-based beer/music news, this weekend I picked up a bomber of Loser, a pale ale by Elysian Brewing Company which was made to honor the indie-rock label Sub Pop Records. Can Soundgarden Saison be far behind?)

DOWNTOWN THROWDOWN The 19th Annual Great International Beer Festival will roar into the Rhode Island Convention Center on Saturday, November 5 (and I do mean roar — it gets loud in there). The majority of the craft brewers are from New England, of course, including Amherst, Berkshire (will Cabin Fever Ale be in the house?), Sam Adams, Harpoon, Mayflower, Ipswich, Newport Storm (line up for the aforementioned Ryan), Long Trail, Narragansett, Sebago (I hope they'll be pouring the Full Throttle Double IPA), Cottrell, Shipyard, Jack's Abby, Olde Burnside, Trinity, Otter Creek, Union Station, Blue Hills, and Woodstock.

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