Enjoying beer is a social endeavor, and during a few recent social endeavors, the topic of underappreciated beers got floated. Then I realized it’s been a year since we asked our ever-evolving panel of local beer savants to weigh in on a topic (it was summer beers/craft in cans 52 weeks ago), so I reached out and asked folks to share their taken-for-granted/readily available/often veteran selections. The next time you’re parsing those tantalizing new offerings, you should mix-a-six and revisit (or finally try) these time-tested (and a few new) brews.
SAM GLYNN | OWNER/OPERATOR, CHOMP KITCHEN AND DRINKS
The first that comes to mind is Long Trail Ale . Sometimes you just want a solid ale that isn’t trying to be anything it’s not supposed to be. Perfectly balanced. One of my go-to beers any time of the year.
Harpoon IPA is one of those beers that gets lost in the shuffle with all the new IPAs and DIPAs coming out. Great hop/malt balance, floral, and has a refreshing aftertaste that doesn’t ruin your palate. It seems today everyone is trying to “out-hop” one another; sometimes you just want a IPA that is true to the style. Harpoon hits the nail on the head. It’s also one of the most approachable IPAs at 42 IBUs.
Mayflower Summer Rye : 3.7% ABV, great flavor for a very low ABV beer. The session drinker’s ideal choice, where you get great rye, hop, and citrus flavor without all the booze.
SEAN ROBINSON | CRAFT BEER MANAGER, C&C DISTRIBUTORS
1) Smuttynose Finestkind IPA : A beautifully balanced IPA that really hits the spot for hopheads. Maybe not the most aromatic or complicated IPA, but this beer really delivers a great balance of citrus flavors and hop bitterness. A number of Smutty’s beers always seem to go unnoticed — Robust Porter, Old Brown Dog, and the entire Big Beer Series in particular. I think this brand is overlooked because of its market maturity (they started in 1994 and have been in the market since the late ’90s).
2) North Coast Brother Thelonious : For me this is the quintessential Belgian Strong Dark Abbey Ale, full of flavor and one of the best interpretations of the style.
3) Victory Prima Pils : I can remember trying this for the first time around seven years ago thinking I wasn’t going to like it. I am traditionally not a German Pils kind of guy. The earthy hop notes are phenomenal on this beer, and with a low ABV and malt bill, this beer is dangerously drinkable. This is still one of my go-to beers for the warm weather months.
I think in this day and age consumers are so drawn to the new releases and new breweries in the market that a number of breweries get overlooked (by myself included). I always look forward to the Stone Enjoy By’s, Founders KBS, etc. releases of the world, but I still tend to go back to old favorites more often nowadays. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a prime example.
DIANE ASCENCAO | OWNER, MADEIRA LIQUORS, PROVIDENCE
Smuttynose Finestkind IPA : It has a great citrusy hop flavor, made with a mixture of Simcoe, Centennial, and Santiam. We love the whole Smuttynose line. The guys on the package remind me of the Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler spokesmen from the 1980s. Don’t make that reference to anyone born after 1975, they have no idea what you’re talking about!
Rogue Dead Guy Ale : It’s made in the style of German Maibock. Perfect beer, pairs with anything. It’s not just for Halloween.
Mayflower IPA : A big hoppy beer with a smooth, bitter finish. It’s one of my favorite IPAs.
Our go-to beer when out and don’t see anything we like is Newcastle Brown Ale .
The new beers we are excited about besides the ’Gansett Del’s Shandy is the Two Roads Road Jam . It’s a raspberry American wheat ale and best ice cold. Also Flying Dog ’s new offering in the low-ABV category, Easy IPA , is pretty awesome!
ALAN BRINTON | OWNER, GREY SAIL BREWING OF RHODE ISLAND
Harpoon Summer Beer is the quintessential summer beer — a crisp Kolsch. It seems like summer beers have been overtaken by the shandy craze, but I love a beer that is true to style and doesn’t require lemons to make it thirst-quenching. I remember drinking Harpoon Summer since it was first introduced (many years ago) and I still have it in my fridge today.
BILL NANGLE | OWNER, THE RHODE ISLAND BREW BUS
Stone, Founders, and Dogfish Head seem to have new beers out every week and I feel their roots in the beer world — Stone IPA , Founders Porter , and Dogfish 60 Minute IPA — get overlooked.
Local stuff: Grey Sail Flying Jenny , Foolproof Raincloud (one of the best year-round porters anywhere, in my opinion), Newport Storm IPA (great IPA, never disappoints). As for new beers, King of the Yahd by Foolproof is a beast and it’s great to see an imperial IPA in RI.