Roll in the barrels

Plus, beer 'sales' at breweries!
By LOU PAPINEAU  |  July 18, 2013

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It’s been a while since we caught up on beer news in this space. And there’s a boatload of it. Here we go:

WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BUCKET

Bucket Brewery announced last week that they’re expanding. They will be relocating to a 3700-square-foot space (10 times bigger than their current digs) at 545 Pawtucket Ave. And bigger space means more beer (yay!). They’ll be saying farewell to the one-barrel brewhouse (which yields 30 gallons at a time) and welcoming a 10-barrel rig, and replacing the 2-barrel fermenters with 20-barrel behemoths. Bottom line: they’ll be making 900 gallons of brew a week instead of 120 (yay!). It will take a while to get it all running and procure the licenses and yadayadayada, but their soon-come new space means they can host tours with samplings and retail sales.

Wait, retail sales? At a Rhode Island brewery?

ALL HAIL S 0236 SUBSTITUTE A!

Said document is “An Act Relating to Alcoholic Beverages — Manufacturing and Wholesale Licenses.” Bottom line: it finally allows breweries, distilleries, and wineries to “provide to visitors in conjunction with a tour and/or tasting, samples, clearly marked as samples, not to exceed 375 ml per visitor for distilled spirits and 72 ounces per visitor for malt beverages at the licensed plant by the manufacturer of the product of the licensed plant to visitors for off-premise consumption.”

Translation: Rhode Island breweries can sell beer at their facilities and you can take it home (or wherever) and enjoy it. The “72 ounces per visitor” translates to a six-pack, three 22-ounce bombers, or a conventional 64-ounce growler. (The "sale" will take place as part of a tasting and tour — you'll pay more if you want to leave with a "sample.)

The bill passed the Senate in April and cleared the House on June 28; it was signed by Gov. Chafee on July 18. So get ready to hit Foolproof, Grey Sail, Newport Storm, and the Bucket for in-house goodness.

In other retail news, RI liquor stores can now open at 10 am on Sundays. The time was moved up from noon to help packy owners in towns that border Connecticut, whose stores have opened at 10 am since the Constitution State approved Sunday sales last year.

NEW LOCAL BEER TO BUY AT 10 AM ON A SUNDAY AND OTHER STUFF

The third release in Narragansett’s Private Stock series, Imperial Black Steam, has just hit shelves in 22-ounce bombers. The 9% ABV brew is a California Common, aka steam beer with, according to the release notes, "a chocolaty raisin and plum flavor balanced with subtle hints of black currant and spice from Northern Brewers hops." It promises to be a worthy successor to the Imperial IPA and Bohemian Pilsner. . . And Newport Storm’s new Cyclone Series entry is Xavier (we all saw that coming 23 letters ago, right?; let’s lobby for Yoko or Yvonne or Yvette or Yakima or Yolanda next). It’s a sour ale made with black cherries.

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There are some notable newcomers to the market: Finch’s of Chicago has four-packs of tallboys, including Fascist Pig Ale (a good amber/red ale) and Threadless IPA. And the Utah Brewers Cooperative is shipping its Squatters and Wasatch beers our way, including Polygamy Porter (“Why Have Just One?” — get it??) and Hop Rising, a high-quality double IPA (9% ABV).

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