Last week, the Brewers Association, the group that keeps track of production stats for US beer makers, released its list of the top 50 brewing companies (the top five: Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Pabst, Yuengling, and Boston Beer Co., aka Sam Adams). Busting onto the chart at No. 50 — Narragansett Brewing (which makes 50,000 barrels per year; a barrel equals 31 gallons)! Mark Hellendrung, the president of 'Gansett, told me, "This is a great acknowledgement for everyone who's been on board the last 5-6 years, but it's also an opportunity to remind us how important it is to get up and get out there every day to reach those who maybe haven't heard of Narragansett and what a delicious award-winning beer it is."
In other 'Gansett news, the seasonal Summer Ale is in out now. The Blonde Ale (4.2% ABV) is smooth, and very sessionable. It's on tap and in pale blue tallboys, with a cool illustration of a surfer in front of the Towers in Narragansett. Also: In March they started distributing to New York's Capital region and northern New Jersey (more sales = moving up that Top 50 list next year). And: as we await word on the location of the new 'Gansett brewery, it's interesting to note that Mark filmed a short video of the former Capital Records building in Eagle Square — home to the Providence Brewing Company from 1896-1925 — sharing his vision for making it 'Gansett's home. Hmmm. Maybe there will be another video of the American Tourister building in Warren to add to the intrigue. Stay tuned!
BEER MANIA IN NEWPORT
The Newport Craft Beer Festival is sold out — all 500 tickets are gone! Quite an impressive showing for the first annual event, to be held at the Great Friends Meeting House; the organizers (Hank from Pour Judgement Bar & Grille and Newport Storm) have said they'd like to have it at Fort Adams next time around.
And damn, what a solid lineup of regional and national breweries the 500 revelers will enjoy: Brooklyn (serving Summer Ale, Mary's Maple Porter, and the sublime Sorachi Ace), Sixpoint, Grey Sail (try the great new Flying Jenny Extra Pale Ale), Harpoon (definitely get Rich & Dan's Rye IPA and the Leviathan IPA), Lagunitas (IPA, Czech-Style Pils, the glorious Little Sumpin' Sumpin, Imperial Red, and Hop Stoopid), Mayflower (I hope they have some Spring Hop Ale), Sebago (Full Throttle Double IPA and Elegans Saison, brewed with pineapple sage), Full Sail, Heavy Seas (Loose Cannon, Black Cannon, and Sea Nymph Summer Ale), Stone (Arrogant Bastard, Cali-Beligique, and 2010 Old Guardian barleywine), Goose Island, Widmer Brothers, Clown Shoes, Wandering Star, Revival, White Birch, Cisco, and (saving two of the best for last) Firestone Walker and Founders — 30 in all. Go to newportcraftbeerfestival.com for more updates on who's pouring what.
In other Newport Storm news, the latest in the Cyclone Series is Tim, a Dunkelweiss listed at 6.3% ABV on the bottle and 7% on the website (let's split the difference and call it 6.66%). You'll detect some banana essence from the Hefeweizen yeast commingling with the chocolate flavor from the German malt. It's worth a try. And this year the seasonal is Summer Hefeweizen (in place of a well-regarded IPA). Both of these beers will be featured at the Fest (natch).