There’s no such thing as a bad beer fest. But there are very few great beer fests. As you should know by now, Beervana is a great beer fest. As we state in this space every year, it’s an overwhelming array, a bevy of ultra-rare/exclusive/unique/simply excellent liquid gold poured by pros — owners, brewmasters, distributors — who pride themselves on raising the bar for better beer. (In contrast: at a recent fest, we asked the names of the beers from a small brewery that were on tap; the server had no idea, described one as a “malt liquor,” and proceeded to hand over a few ounces of pure foam.) And you get to sample some of the world’s finest brews, compare notes with fellow enthusiasts, and have a helluva great time.
Let’s run the stats: the sixth annual Beervana, which raises its own bar every year (cheers to beer wranglers Nikki’s Liquors co-owner Mike Iannazzi, Julian’s general manager Brian Oakley), is at Rhodes-On-the-Pawtuxet (60 Rhodes Pl, Cranston) on Friday, October 17 from 6:30-10 pm. The fest will host 60 breweries, who will bring 185 beers. With two-ounce pours, let’s say you can try about 15-20 percent of the offerings (with that designated driver/Uber ride lined up), so you need a game plan. (And with so many choices, maybe the fest can expand to a Friday and Saturday session. Please?)
Potential highlights? Ummm, there are many. Here are some: Southern Tier has concocted the Quahog Special Ale , a cream ale made with a new Aussie hop, Vic Secret, which is exclusive to Beervana and Providence Craft Beer Week events; North Coast will export Puck , a “petite saison” which has only been available in CA; Oskar Blues will pour Death By Coconut and Four Roses Bourbon Barrel-Aged Gubna ; Long Trail will bring its 25th Anniversary Ale , a blend of bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Porter and rye whiskey barrel-aged Culmination Dark Chocolate Porter; Sierra Nevada will present its 12 Beer Camp collabs, which means Ninkasi , New Glarus , Cigar City , Bell's , and Russian River will be making their RI debuts; Dogfish , the fest’s main sponsor, will unearth some 2011 Fort , a raspberry juice-fueled ale, and the mighty Burton Baton , a superb mix of an English-style old ale and an imperial IPA, delivered through their Randall device which will add the essence of whole cone Citra hops; Smuttynose will unleash Shebang , an 11% ABV triple IPA, and Brett & I , fermented in a Belgian yeast strain and aged in red wine barrels; co-sponsor Victory will pour Wild Devil IPA , aka Hop Devil with brett (gonna be lots of brett flying ’round Rhodes!). And there’s always a crowd at the B. United International and Shelton Brothers Importers tables, with good reason. This year the former will offer Del Borgo Caos , made with 25% wine must (line up early — there are only two 750ml bottles) and a vintage 2006 Aventinus ; the Sheltons will share Finland’s Huvila X-Porter , Jolly Pumpkin ’s Oro de Calabaza (a golden ale fermented in oak and aged in Chardonnay barrels), and eight other beauties.
And what about the locals? Brutopia will make its Beervana debut with five brews; Foolproof will unveil Queen of the Yahd (an IPA aged on raspberries), Chocolate Drew (an IPA with cocoa from Garrison Chocolates), Joaktoberfest (the Augtoberfest festbier ages in a Sons of Liberty whiskey barrel), and BigS (an English-style strong ale); Grey Sail will introduce Captain’s Daughter , their new year-round double IPA, plus Dark Star, Blend 1 , a Belgian imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, and Flotsam and Brettsam , an IPA with brett; Newport Storm ’s Annual Release ’14 , made with 1300 gallons of melted snow (!?), was made with hefeweizen yeast and packs an 11.4% ABV punch; Proclamation is bringing Zzzlumber , its “Dutch-style Imperial Stout”; the new hop-soaked Derivative pale ale; Starpower , a brett beer fermented in oak barrels; and Jelly Donut , its collab with Grey Sail, a Berliner Weisse which can be mixed with juicy syrups for your sipping pleasure; Revival will be pumping its White Electric Coffee Stout , made with New Harvest coffee beans, on nitro, plus its core beers; and Trinity Brewhouse will mix it up with Belgian Strawberry , Wonka’s Chocolate Porter , and a Double Barrel IPA (on cask).