Let’s catch up on some beer news while we wait for the first Christmas ales to hit the shelves. . . .
• Quality beer bars are hard to find in the wilds of Rhode Island. Pitcher’s Pub in Cumberland was a genuine oasis, a small room with 22 taps (including lots of Belgians), good cheap food, and a low-key, friendly vibe. It closed two years ago, but there’s good news. Stevie D’s Bar & Grill has opened where Pitcher’s Pub used-ta-be (80 Manville Hill Rd, 401.658.2591, stevie-ds.com), and it’s a new oasis in the wilds of Cumberland. Seventeen of the 22 taps are pouring craft goodness; current standouts (amidst a rake’s worth of seasonal offerings) include Ommegang BPA and Ithaca Flower Power (flights are served in a sturdy wood block). There are eight dinners, a
dozen sandwiches (the bacon cheeseburger was a winner), apps, salads, and pizza. Warm up the GPS and make the trek.
• The last two years, the Bottles & Cans franchise has been the place to get the list of Providence Craft Beer Week events — the tastings and tap takeovers and meet-the-brewer sessions scheduled in the lead-up to Beervana . Now there’s a new one-stop: providencecraftbeerweek.com. There are 20 or so listings there now, and a slew more will be added as we inch closer to The Best Beer Event In Rhode Island.
• We’ll have a thorough preview of Beervana (which is on October 18 at Rhodes-On-the-Pawtuxet) in two weeks, but here are a few things to get you salivating (and to purchase your tix): North Coast will be pouring Class of ’88 , a barleywine-style ale brewed with Rogue and Deschutes to celebrate their 25th anniversary; Unibroue will make its Beervana debut (and is bringing French Oak Aged La Fin Du Monde); Foolproof will unveil Prince of the Yahd (a blend of the Yahd Double IPA and Backyahd); and Goose Island will be sharing Bourbon County Brand Stout’s 2011 Bramble Rye and Coffee variants. Hit facebook.com/pages/Beervana-Fest/133070512753 for more.
• While we were reading Tom Acitelli’s The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, we hit Google to see what traces remained of Hope Brewing Corp. The local beermaker emerged in 1988; their brewmaster, Timothy Morse, had worked at the pioneering Anchor Brewing. Hope was the first RI-based brewery since Narragansett’s closing in 1981 and the first-ever craft outfit. They quickly “carv[ed] out 4.4 percent of the Rhode Island superpremium-import beer market” — more than 1 million bottles — according to a 1989 ProJo story. Hope is but a footnote in local beer lore, but is fondly remembered by beer drinkers of a certain age.
• And now there were four: Narragansett ’s latest year-round offering is Bohemian Pilsner , joining Lager, Light, and Cream Ale. An imperial version was released in the Private Stock series, but this brew dials back the ABV (to 5.2%) but keeps all the flavor, a very agreeable blend of four malts and two not-so-bitter hops. The tallboy six-packs (about $9) are waiting for you. And ’Gansett’s Fest has been in stores for a while, but they taste just right on these cooler days. It’s always good to see King Gambrinus, the Patron Saint of Beer, raising his glass and toasting the season on the bright orange can. And while we’re talking about beers crafted by Sean Larkin, let’s welcome this season’s first batch of Revival ’s Imperial Octoberfest Lager (7%). It’s on tap and in stores now!