We explored another option in our search for bargains: the beer aisle at Trader Joe's in Foxboro, MA. They have a few familiar brands (Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams), but the shelves are dominated by an array of exotic names — Stockyard Oatmeal Stout, Simpler Times Pilsner, Kennebunkport, Trader José, and Mission St. The prices are ultra-cheap: some bombers are $2.29, six-packs run from $3-$7 (and you can get singles of everything).It only takes a bit of Googling to find out who is supplying the chain's private label brews. The acclaimed Firestone Walker — makers of the terrific trio of Jacks (Union, Double, and Wookey) and other sublime suds — are behind the Mission St. offerings (under the alias Steinhaus Brewing Co.). Highlights include Brown Ale (in those $2.29 bombers), and sixers of IPA (6.1% ABV) and Pale Ale (4.6%) — which won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010. They're pretty good beers (especially the latter two) at a real good price ($7/six-pack — "at the crossroads of quality and value," as the label says). Tecate makes Trader Jose's (try the Dark Lager); Kennebunkport is produced by Maine's Shipyard Brewing; and Stockyard is from the Gordon Biersch Brewing Company (Goose Island used to make it). And it's easy to find the pedigree of Trader Joe's 2012 Vintage Ale, a Belgian dark ale (9%) in a corked bomber. The label and the logo on the cork says it's made by Unibroue, the top-shelf Quebec brewery. It sells for $6. We'll be heading back to Patriot Place to explore some of the other bargains at Trader Joe's.


BUDGET BE DAMNED!

OK, so with the dollars you saved delving into the bargain bin, you should get these luxurious recent releases: SIXPOINT's 3BEANS is an outstanding and unique Baltic Porter (10%), made with cacao husks, cold-brewed coffee, and romano beans, which were used as a barley substitute in beer in days of yore. It has extraordinary layers of flavor, and tastes best at room temperature (the four-pack runs $14). LAGUNITAS SUCKS BROWN SHUGGA' SUBSTITUTE debuted last year as a fill-in for Brown Shugga', and it has blossomed into a big buzz beer this year. The imperial IPA (on the light side of the imperial scale at 7.85% ABV) has a delightful burst of citrus aroma and hoppy perfection ($11). And Goose Island's BOURBON COUNTY BRAND STOUT (15%) has disappeared from most shelves, but there's a mini-mountain at Haxton's on West Shore Rd in Warwick: they still had 10 four-packs on Saturday ($27). You're welcome.

And be on the lookout — because it's going to go fast — for Stone's ENJOY BY IPA 4.11.13 IPA, the fifth release of the "devastatingly fresh" double IPA (9.4%) and the first batch to hit Rhode Island. Here's the hook: the fresher an IPA is, the better it tastes. So Stone will ship the new batch of bombers on 2.22 (the Enjoy By date is 35 days from its bottling); the ETA at stores is 2.27. And it's up to you to Enjoy It by April Fools' Day (or, you know, on 2.28).

Beer_GreySail_BeachBlonde_C

BEER 'ROUND HERE

"Do good deeds by drinking beer!" That's the declaration for "BREWS FOR BOOKS," a fundraiser for the Adams Memorial Library in Central Falls, which has been aided by donations from CF native/actress Viola Davis and library champion Alec Baldwin and has kept its doors open with community support. The event features luscious local liquids from Revival, Grey Sail, Foolproof, Bucket, and Ravenous, plus cheese from Narragansett Creamery and chocolate from Garrison Confections. Head to 205 Central St on Friday, Feb 22 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $20 (cflibrary.org, 401.727.7440).

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