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September 20, 2017

Photo Credit: Michael Simeone

Ocean State Beer Festival succeeds at Whalers Brewing Company


It can never go understated how lucky Rhode Island is to have the craft beer community that it has. The smallest state in the United States has become a place of growth where new and inventive brews are being made on a consistent basis. A place like Pawtucket has three craft breweries nestled within its confines with the Bucket Brewery, Crooked Current Brewery and Foolproof Brewing Company calling the city home. There’s also Revival Brewing in Cranston, Tilted Barn Brewery in Exeter, Ragged Island Brewing Company in Portsmouth and Long Live Beerworks in Providence among others finding success. On September 10 at Whalers Brewing Company in Wakefield, the third annual Ocean State Beer Festival celebrated all of the breweries mentioned and a few others.

Hosted by the Rhode Island Brewers Guild, the festival took place outside on a perfect late summer day. The Brian James Quartet was busting out some awesome jazz tunes to set the mood while Boru Barbeque was serving up tasty grub. Everyone had a mini sample glass that they could use to sample all the beers available and they had to return it upon leaving. For the sake of my liver, I tried one beer from each brewery (each brewery had at most three beers to try from) while enjoying the friendly atmosphere. Each one was a tad different than the others while a select few really hit it out of the park.

Whalers had this sour Berliner Weisse called Sirius that was very tart. It had flavors of passion fruit, citrus and mango that magnified when they hit the taste buds. I had the Merci Buckets courtesy of the Bucket and it was a full-bodied and floral Saison that was smooth and very drinkable. The Union Station Brewery out of Providence had a pale ale made with lemon drop hops that were very rich even though I was surprised that it wasn’t as citrusy as I was expecting. Middletown’s Coddington Brewing Company and their pumpkin ale weren’t overpowering and it had some nice notes of cinnamon.

Crooked Current’s White Stout was a stunner with a flavor combo of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. It gave me thoughts of making a float with it using a dollop of ice cream. Trinity Brewhouse from Providence had this El Double Double IPA that had the right amount of hoppiness and it wasn’t too strong. Tilted Barn’s The Chosen One Double IPA was a bit sweet with a faint kick while also having a quality flavor. I’ve had Foolproof’s Queen Of The Yahd IPA before and the raspberry ale is always consistent, including on this day.

One of the strangest beers I’ve ever had in my life had to be Ragged Island’s Sour Patch Kid Cask IPA. It tasted just like the candy, I could definitely have a glass of it on occasion but I don’t know if I could down a six pack of it in one sitting. Grey Sail Brewing from Westerly had a Saison from their “Little Swell” series that was very light and also a perfect beer to drink on a sunny day. Woonsocket’s Ravenous Brewing Company had an interesting and balanced India red ale that had tasty notes of caramel. Long Live’s Wesside IPA was hoppy but not too strong while also having a smooth finish.

Revival’s Pinky Swear tasted just like drinking pink lemonade but in beer form. This sour ale turns the style on its head and it was also refreshing. Newport Storm had a New England style IPA called Rhode Trip that had no nonsense and a great taste. Sons Of Liberty Spirits Co. in South Kingstown might be known for their whiskey but they are also getting into beer with their Battle Cry IPA that definitely had a delicious whiskey infusion. I tried a wheat ale from West Kingston’s Proclamation Ale Company called Borrowed Shades and it had a tropical and citrusy vibe to it.

I don’t know if I had a favorite from the Ocean State Beer Festival but Crooked Current’s White Stout and Ragged Island’s Sour Patch Kids Cask IPA definitely left the biggest impressions on me. The White Stout combined three of my favorite flavors in one while the Sour Patch Kids Cask IPA defied everything I thought a beer was. Overall, the festival was a rousing success. I already can’t wait for next year.