Friday, May 6, 2016

Taste the Season(s) at the Great International Beer Fest

One of the reasons why we love doing Beer Fest twice a year (other than the fact that it means twice the beer) is the opportunity to taste all the great seasonal brews in spring and fall. It seems like every year craft brewers come up with more – and more creative – ways to incorporate the flavors of the seasons into their beers. At the Great International Spring Beer Festival we’ll even get a double dose of seasonal flavors, as there will be both spring and summer brews on tap. Here’s a quick round-up of just some of what you can look forward to sipping on Saturday.


“Wild Vineyard grape leaves, premium Pilsner malt and Saaz hops give our Vineyard Summer Ale a bright golden glow, a clean pilsner malt flavor and subtle Bartlett pear aromatics. Its refreshing, light body makes it the perfect ale for a lazy day on the sand. And maybe a night, too.”

4.8% ABV


“Stealin’ Time is a hazy summer sipper that will while away the days with a light malt sweetness, balanced by hops and a pinch of ginger.”

5.5% ABV


“This Belgian Wit summer offering is representative of the white beers made in the Wallonia region of Belgium. The pronounced yeast characteristic and subdued spicing of our Belgian Wit offer a refreshing, unfiltered beer perfect for those hot summer days.”

4% ABV

“A strong sense of adventure leads to a life well lived. This is a collaboration with Granny Squibb’s Ice Tea, making a refreshing and dynamic beer brewed with Azacca hops, mandarina bavaria, green tea, mint, and lime. A perfect taste to pair with fresh air and new experiences. It’s a magical world out there, so let’s go exploring!”

4.7% ABV


“Summertime Citra Ale is blonde session ale with unique citrus and passion fruit aromas, backed by the Citra hops and pale malt that creates a sessional and balanced summer beer.”

4.2% ABV

“A refreshing mix of Narragansett’s award-winning lager and the tart lemon extract from beloved New England summer staple Del’s Frozen Lemonade, Del’s Shandy has become an annual fan favorite far beyond its Northeast roots.”

4.7% ABV

“Queen is a truly unique IPA brewed with real raspberry. We dumped a stupid amount of American hops into this beer, giving the Queen a gorgeous bouquet of tropical fruit that is complemented by a subtle tartness from raspberry purée. This is a refreshing, delicious, and totally crushable IPA.”

5.2% ABV


“Doubly good in triple digits, our unique summer seasonal is made with the fruit of the prickly pear, a cactus native to Shiner, Texas. With a tart, citrusy flavor and a crisp finish, it’s the best use of cactus yet.”

4.9% ABV


“Downeast Summer Blend has been toned down to a sessionable 4.5% ABV. It’s fermented with our ale yeast to preserve the smooth flavor of Downeast Cider, but we also included freshly ground ginger for a sharp snap and freshly pressed lemon juice because we like lemons. It has half as much sugar as Original Blend and is made with fresh lemon and ginger juice.”


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Get Ready to Raise a Cup: Your Great International Spring Beer Festival Checklist

It’s finally here! Saturday May 7th is the day for the Great International Spring Beer Fest at our beautiful new outdoor location, Mulligan’s Island Golf & Entertainment Complex. We’ve got a ton of great brewers, one of Rhode Island’s best bands, food, fun, and we’re ready for afternoon and night sessions. But are you ready? Here’s a checklist to make sure you have the ideal Beer Fest experience.

1. Tickets
Duh… Did you get them yet? If you haven’t already gotten yours online, you can still purchase them at the door for only $40.

2. A designated driver
This one should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. We’re thrilled to provide you with more than 250 great beers to sample, but it’s no fun unless everybody gets home safe. We offer special “designated driver” tickets for only $15 so you can all pitch in and bring along a noble, selfless buddy. RIPTA’s 21 line  also runs out to Cranston, with a stop about half-a-mile from Mulligan’s Island. And there’s always Uber. Whatever you do, just make sure you’ve got a plan.

3. Directions
Speaking of Mulligan’s Island, do you know where you’re going?

4. Your valid photo ID
Don’t forget it, because you ain’t getting a single sip without it. And no one under 21 is admitted under any circumstances, so make sure even your designated driver is 21+ with a valid ID.

5. A full stomach
Food will be available on site, and no outside food or drink is permitted at Beer Fest, but we always recommend arriving on a full stomach. We want you to be able to enjoy as many brews as possible and it helps to lay down a base coat absorb them all.

6. Beer Knowledge
Over the past several weeks, we’ve tried to prep you for an extravaganza of hoppy goodness with blog posts about Rhode Island and New England breweries, alt-brews like ciders and hard sodas, seasonal brews, and even our band, Steve Smith & The Nakeds. If you haven’t done so already, we recommend a little light reading of our previous blog posts so you can arrive at Beer Fest with a plan of attack.

See you Mulligan’s Island on Saturday. Let’s get ready to raise a cup!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Raise a Glass to Steve Smith & The Nakeds

We believe that good beer and good music go hand in hand – that’s why we’re excited to have Steve Smith & The Nakeds providing the entertainment for both the day and evening sessions of the Great International Spring Beer Festival. For our dollar, no band better embodies the spirit of Rhode Island. They’ve been rocking audiences around the state (and the country) since 1973. They’re in the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame. They’ve appeared on Family Guy. They’re about as classic Rhode Island as Narragansett Beer – which is probably why they’re the official band of ‘Gansett. Steve Smith & The Nakeds are a familiar sight (and sound) to generations of Rhode Islanders, but just in case you’ve somehow missed them all these years, we want to give you a little primer on one of the Ocean State’s most legendary bands. And if you’re already a fan, just consider this something to get you warmed up for the Beer Fest. The band’s signature song is a Nakeds original, “I’m Huge (and the Babes Go Wild).” Despite the obvious implication, the inspiration for the song was actually a small boat nicknamed The Huge. Here’s a studio recording from their 1984 debut album, Coming to a Theatre Near You:

The song is so iconic, in fact, that Family Guy later paid tribute to it on the show’s volume 6 DVD release, featuring a cartoon cameo by Steve Smith & The Nakeds:

One of the band’s famous fans – other than Peter Griffin, of course – was famed E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons. “The Big Man,” as he was called, played many shows with Steve Smith & The Nakeds over the years, touring extensively with them in the ‘90s, and the band often played benefit shows for Clemons’ philanthropic work. Here’s a clip of them performing a Springsteen classic, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” at the Clarence Clemons Classic in Florida in 2010, with the Big Man himself sitting in on sax:

The Nakeds also recorded with E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren. Here he is with the band on “Blue Eyes Don't”:

A lot of musicians have passed through the ranks of The Nakeds over the years, but one of the mainstays has been guitarist Ed Vallee. His sizzling guitar work packs a little extra punch into the horn-driven band’s stage show. Here he is showing off his chops on Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4”:


There is almost no Rhode Island venue where Steve Smith & The Nakeds haven’t played – including the local TV studios. Here they are in studio for Fox Providence’s morning show, The Rhode Show:

As if there was any further need to establish Steve Smith & The Nakeds as one of Rhode Island’s most iconic bands, we’ll leave you with one last piece of proof that they’re a true institution: a coffee cup salute from Channel 10’s Frank Coletta. We hope you’ll raise a cup of your own to these hall of famers at the Great International Spring Beer Festival:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Alt-Brews: Hard ciders, spiked iced teas and more at the Great International Spring Beer Festival

At the Great International Spring Beer Festival, we pride ourselves on showcasing the
finest craft brews from around the country. But for us, craft brewing isn’t just about beer.
There are plenty of great artisanal producers making hard ciders, root beers, and other
creative libations that are just as rich and complex as any ale or lager.

Cider lovers will find plenty to enjoy at the Beer Fest. New England’s own Downeast
Cider will be pouring their new seasonal, Downeast Summer Blend. It’s made with
freshly ground ginger and fresh pressed lemon juice for a sparkling, smooth flavor.
Angry Orchard will also offer “cider with an attitude.” They create a variety of styles
ranging from “Crisp” to “Hop’n Mad,” and feature seasonal flavors like Summer Honey
and Elderflower. While most of us know Sonoma County as one of California’s premiere
winemaking regions, it’s also home to ACE Hard Cider. Their premium ciders range
from classic apple to berry, pumpkin, and even pineapple.

The alterna-brews aren’t just limited to ciders either. Root Cellars’ “Formidable
Fermentables” include old world style hard sodas like their Pedal Hard Ginger Beer and
Row Hard Root Beer, made with pure cane sugar and molasses. Their most unique
“brew,” however, has got to be the Himmel & Erde (Heaven & Earth) Carrot Apple Ale –
just trust us on this one.

If a tall, refreshing iced tea is your seasonal beverage of choice, Twisted Tea has you
covered with a kicked-up adult version. Their smooth sipping line-up includes original
iced tea, lemonade, and, of course, half-and-half.

If you’re looking for something on the lighter side that still packs boozy punch, try a
spiked sparkling water. Yes, that’s right: water with a kick. SpikedSeltzers are made from
purified water and natural fruit essences, like Cape Cod Cranberry and Valencia Orange,
and clock in at 6% alcohol without the sugary sweetness of wine or the heaviness of beer.
The new Truly Spiked & Sparkling also delivers a clean, refreshing dash of effervescence
with their line of exotic flavors like Colima Lime and Grapefruit & Pomelo.

With an eclectic selection of creative adult beverages, even those who are watching their
calories or just don’t like beer can have a delicious day at the Great International Spring
Beer Festival. Did we mention that most of these are gluten-free, too? We’ve got
something for everyone.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The New England Beer Trail

Last week we discussed all the great Rhode Island beers that will be on tap at the Great International Spring Beer Fest. We love showcasing the bounty of brews here in the Ocean State, but for us, the “drink local” philosophy extends to all of New England. We’re proud to say that every state in the region will be represented at Beer Fest.

Vermont is known as a craft brewing hub – and a pretty quirky place. That’s why Burlington’s Traveler Beer Company is a perfect representation of the state. Their line of beers is all about easy drinking, seasonal flavors, often incorporating fruit essences, like their Grapefruit Shandy and Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy. Moving from the Green Mountains to the White Mountains, we find one of New Hampshire’s most beloved craft breweries, the Woodstock Inn. This brewpub and inn (you can actually stay overnight!) is known throughout the region for popular brews like their Pig’s Ear Brown Ale.

There’s plenty of great beer to be found way up north, too, and you can sample a trio of Maine’s finest at Spring Beer Fest. Hidden Cove Brewing comes down from southern Maine. Their year-round staples, Compadre American pale ale and Patroon IPA, are complemented by seasonals like their Knave Smoked Porter. Kennebec River Brewery is a brewpub with a unique twist: it’s located at the Northern Outdoors Resort, making that the only rafting and adventure resort with its own brewery. (How convenient.) With beers inspired by their surroundings like the Let ‘Er Drift summer ale, Kennebec River boasts that they “put the ‘raft’ in craft brewing.” Finally, one of Maine’s best known craft brewers, Shipyard, joins us from Portland. They were one of the breweries that put Maine on the beer lover’s map, with popular favorites like Old Thumper Extra Special Ale and their seasonal Pumpkinhead.

Heading back down to Southern New England, we find Black HogBrewing in Oxford, CT. The name is a tribute to the pig roasts that were common in the family of brothers, Jason and Tom Sobocinski, who founded the brewery. Their beers are eclectic and out of the ordinary, like Ginga’ Ninja, a red IPA brewed with fresh ginger, or Disco Pig #5, a saki yeast fermented cucumber and rice ale. Berkshire Brewing joins us from Western Massachusetts. They offer a wide variety of ales and lagers, but perhaps the most unique is Shabadoo: it’s a 33% porter and 67% ale mix, making it a black and tan in one convenient concoction. Bad Martha will take the boat in from Martha’s Vineyard to bring us their brews. As you might imagine, given their island origin, beers like Vineyard Honey Ale and Island IPA are made for easy sipping.

Of course, no line-up of New England beers would be complete without the biggest and best known of them all: Samuel Adams. For over 30 years this Boston brewer has been cranking out some New England’s favorites, including the iconic Boston Lager. Sam Adams is as synonymous with New England beer as… well, as Rhode Island’s own Narragansett.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Drinking Local at the Great International Beer Fest

Photo courtesy of Revival Brewing's Facebook page
Even though we look all over the world for brews to showcase at the Great International
Beer Fest, we’re lucky to have so many excellent beers right here in our own backyard –  or, as the folks at Pawtucket’s Foolproof Brewing would say, backyahd. Some of the best local suds will be on tap at this year’s event.

 Pawtucket seems to be quietly emerging as the epicenter of craft brewing in Rhode Island. In addition to the aforementioned Foolproof, the city is also home to Crooked Current and Bucket Breweries, all of which will also be featured at the Great International Beer Fest. And the biggest news in local brewing was Narragansett Beer’s recent announcement that they’ll finally be building a brewery in Pawtucket.

Foolproof has emerged as a local favorite over the past few years with their philosophy of “experience-based brewing”: each beer is intended as a tribute to a signature beer-drinking situation. Their Backyahd IPA is meant to be enjoyed by the grill during a summer cookout, their Barstool American golden ale is the preferred choice for bellying up to the bar with friends, and the Raincloud porter is brewed for indoor sipping on a rainy day.

Crooked Current, which boasts of being “the smallest brewery in the smallest state,” sets itself apart in more ways than just its size. Brewmaster Nichole Pelletier is the only female brewer in Rhode Island, staking out a place for herself in what is typically a boys’club. They also craft their brews as a drinkable commentary on their home state’s legacyof corruption and crooked politicians – hence the name Crooked Current. With brews like Immorality Pale Ale, Kickback American Wheat, and Plunderdome Pumpkin Maple Ale, Crooked Current has as much taste for satire as they do for great beer.

Bucket Brewery also pays tribute to the Ocean State with its beers. Its Park Loop Porter was brewed for runners racing around Warwick City Park, Paul & Al’s Hoppy 25th Anniversary Pilsner commemorates the WHJY personalities’ years on the air, and, of course, their 33rd Inning Red Rye Lager is inspired by the famous longest game in baseball history, when our beloved Pawsox defeated the Rochester Red Wings over the course of 33 innings at McCoy Stadium. Perhaps that one is best sipped from one of the stadium’s “longest game” souvenir cups.

Revival Brewing, which recently opened its own brewery and tasting room in Cranston, will also be on tap at the Beer Fest. Presided over by brewmaster Sean Larkin, Revival’s beers are also steeped in local culture and history, from Civil War general and facial hair pioneer Ambrose Burnside (Burnsider Pale Ale), to a suspected vampire (Mercy Brown Imperial Ale), to our dearly missed amusement park (Rocky Point Red Ale), to more current icons, like one of Providence’s favorite coffee shops (White Electric Coffee Stout). Extra “Vo Dilun” points go to anyone who can name the inspiration for the Fanny Session IPA. (The elephant on the label is a hint.)

They’re cranking out great brews in the southern half of the state too. Grey Sail heads up from Westerly for Beer Fest. The inspiration for their beers blows in off the ocean, with a line of nautically inspired brews like Flagship cream ale, Captain’s Daughter imperial IPA, and Hazy Day summer ale. The City by the Sea’s own Newport Storm will also make the journey up Route 1. They were pioneers of the craft brewing movement in Rhode Island, pouring their first beer in 1999. They continue brewing their original Hurricane Amber Ale, along with their popular Rhode Island Blueberry, and a host of seasonal and limited releases. Not content with simply bringing brewing back to the Ocean State, in 2006 they launched Thomas Tew Rum (named for a infamous pirate from
Newport), reviving the long lost art of distilling on the island.

Our local brewpubs will be getting in on the fun, as well. Rhode Island’s original brewpub, Trinity Brewhouse, has been pouring beers brewed on site since 1995. Their signature IPA was one of the most popular local brews long before the India pale ale became the predominant style of craft beer nationwide. Union Station Brewery is another veteran presence on the local beer scene. Located right in the heart of the old train station for which it’s named, Union Station is known for unique twists like their Vanilla Bean Porter.

Local beer is truly having its moment right now, and we’re proud to showcase so many of our hometown brewers at the Great International Beer Fest. To learn more about the Rhode Island brewing renaissance, check out this recent feature from Providence Monthly magazine.