Exalted beer bliss: Treat yourself to Beervana; plus, Providence Craft Beer Week

Bottles and cans and just clap your hands
By LOU PAPINEAU  |  October 11, 2012

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Beervana is a truly special beer fest. The selections are exceedingly well-chosen, and the breweries are represented by owners, beer-makers, and other experts — people who are pleased and proud to share and spread the passion for their extraordinary creations. And the 210 minutes at Rhodes-On-the-Pawtuxet are pure bliss for beer lovers — they fly by.

READ: Beervana Fest Beer List: Brewers/Importers scheduled to attend so far

READThe Providence Craft beer Week lineup

There will be 32 tables, with more than 150 drool-inducing beers, including these exclusive/rare/worth-spending-too-many-precious-minutes-in-line offerings: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel's L'Herbe à Détourne (a Belgian-style tripel made with Citra hops); Cantillon Cuvée St-Gilloise (a dry-hopped lambic); Victory's Otto In Oak (a Belgian dubbel aged in bourbon barrels); Allagash's Mattina Rossa (a sour/wild ale fused with 540 pounds of raspberries, aged in wine barrels, and juiced by raging yeast); Smuttynose's Short Batch #17: Herbaceous (wet-hopped with right-off-the-vine resinous goodness from the Yakima Valley; only 30 barrels were made); Revival's Double Black IPA, bourbon-aged on cask; and Gregorius, the first beer (a dark tripel) from Stift Engelszell, the Austrian monastery which recently became the eighth Trappist brewery. Plus, Founders KBS, Samuel Smith's new Organic Chocolate Stout, andandand . . . Simply put, it's an astounding array. Check out the entire list (with descriptions) here and start your prioritizing.

Another special aspect of Beervana are the seminars. This year's beerists: Dann and Martha Paquette, the self-described "kooky minds" behind the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, which finds the tenant (aka gypsy) brewers concocting their lovely beers at rented spaces; and Garrett Oliver, who has been the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery since 1994; he's the author of the pairing bible, The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food, and co-editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, an encyclopedic tome (3.8 pounds!). We asked them a few questions, and they were kind enough to take some time to answer them.

DO YOU HAVE ANY BASIC ADVICE FOR A FEST PLAN FOR FIRST-TIMERS AND VETS?Dann: To avoid disappointment, use the fest guide to figure out what you want to drink most, then get there and drink it. Keep your ear to the ground as well because at most fests there's usually a beer everyone is talking about and it's usually a surprise! Try new things, but don't just go for the "novelty" beers: look for ways to try new styles that are outside your usual choices, but which expand your horizons in a meaningful way. For example, maybe you've drunk US-brewed Belgian beer styles: so go straight for the actual Belgian stuff and see how it compares.

Garrett: Despite the fact that my family is from Providence, this is my first Beervana, so I'm not sure that I can dispense much advice. General advice, though, would be to start with lighter beers and then ramp up. If you go sprinting directly for the heaviest, hoppiest, sourest barrel-aged blockbusters, you can blow out your palate for the whole evening and really miss a lot. Pacing is important.

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