GET A HANDLE ON IT The taps at Norey’s.
On Saturday, the snow was finally gone, the air was semi-warm, and the clocks were set to spring ahead in the wee hours of the 10th. So it seemed the perfect day to head south, cross the Pell Bridge, and hit some of Newport's top beer spots. (We know there are other spots to hit; please send your recommendations to bottlescansclap firstname.lastname@example.org.)
We started with a quick tour of three bottle shops. BRIDGE LIQUORS is right off the Pell's first exit. They have a small but solid selection; their Facebook had promised a fresh batch of Ithaca's Flower Power, and we grabbed a six-pack. Then we crossed over the line to Middletown to visit SANDY'S LIQUORS (which we had frequented long ago in our college days, when it was called Marty's). The range of beer is similar to Bridge's, and we were about to get a rack of Widmer Brothers' Brrr, a hoppy winter warmer which had eluded us during the brrr season, when we saw a couple of four-packs of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. We had resolved to not buy any more of the pricey beer (and thought we wouldn't be typing about it again in this space for nine months or so), but then we turned and saw three cases of the stuff, and a small hand-written sign indicating it was on "special" for $19.99 (most stores had it for $27)! So: one more four-pack (we're on a budget). Did I mention it was $19.99?!? And that they have three cases of it??
Our last bottle shop stop was at VICKERS' LIQUORS on Bellevue Avenue, and what a difference 2.9 miles makes: they also had multiple cases (!!) of BCBS, but their four-packs were $29.99. There were other rarities on the shelves: bombers of Bourbon County Coffee and Cherry, and a few Stone Enjoy Bys, and a very impressive (if pricey — hey, it's Gatsby's 'hood) array of top-level stuff.
So here's a tip for you folks in Providence and Warwick and Cranston who can't believe this stuff flies off the shelves so quickly: cross the Pell Bridge . . . .
OK, enough beer-gawking, time for beer-drinking. We headed to Broadway, which has the state's best walkable stretch of beer bars on the same side of the same road: it's .3 miles from POUR JUDGEMENT (32 B'way) to MALT (150) to NOREY'S STAR (156, literally next door). (It's .2 miles from Julian's to the Avery to the E & O Tap, but those are on three different streets). Add the 36 high-quality taps at Yesterday's (just around the corner from B'way in Washington Square) and the offerings at the trad-style Fastnet Pub, and you have a peerless pub crawl.
We had to pace ourselves (despite having our designated driver) and stuck to the trio on the west side of Broadway. The aggregate numbers are an embarrassment of riches: Pour has 18 drafts, two dozen bombers and 30 12-ounce bottles; Malt has 26 taps (and two casks) and 70 or so bottles; Norey's has 14 taps and boasts 130 jaw-dropping bottle offerings, an astounding selection of top-rated and ultra-rare beers. They say their list defines "beer due diligence." You can do your research or just dive in at random — either way, you're in for a sublime experience.
We started with a Founders Red's Rye Pale Ale at Pour Judgment. The place is comfortable and low-key, with a great CD jukebox. Malt is a tad upscale (it's the former home of Tucker's Bistro), with a gorgeous bar. We indulged in their IPA flight ($7.50), with five-ounce pours of Long Trail, Harpoon's Rich & Dan's Rye, Uinta's Hop Notch and Green Flash's Imperial (they'll be mixing up their flight themes). And Malt is also serious about their whiskey; they have a formidable list.
We dug in at Norey's for two pours (and dinner); it's a sleek room with lots of delightfully funky touches (especially the diner-style stools at the bar). We finally got a taste of Founders' Bolt Cutter Barleywine (15% ABV) and Widmer Brothers' Barrel Aged Brrrbon (9.4%); both selections were extraordinarily good. We're already planning a return trip — those 150 bottles won't cross themselves off our list.
As we passed through Main Street in East Greenwich on our way home, we had a brainstorm: that bustling road needs a primo beer spot. It'd be the perfect (almost) halfway point for the fusion of Julian's and Norey's, which are near-doppelgangers vis-à-vis beer selection, menu, attitude, and décor. Juley's — Norian's? — would be a supreme destination.