While Rhode Island has had its share of wineries for quite some time now, it’s breweries that are booming right now. Get a taste of the local beer craze straight from the source – and while you’re at it, visit some vineyards and distilleries along the way. Just remember to bring a designated driver.
Rhode Island’s craft beer craze started at Trinity Brewhouse (186 Fountain Street, Providence. 453-2337), a Providence brew pub, which started with a handful of beers only available at the restaurant and is now sold in stores all over the state. Stop in for lunch or dinner, try any of their ten craft brews, like Rhode Island IPA or Larkin’s Irish Stout, named after brewmaster Sean Larkin, who also brews his own Revival Beer out of the location. Close by is Union Station Brewery (36 Exchange Terrace, Providence. 274-2739), housed in an old train station, which has nine delicious beers like the Cask Dry Hopped Black IPA on tap. The newest brewpub in the state is another Sean Larkin venture, Brutopia Brewery and Kitchen, where Larkin is brew-master. Brutopia (505 Atwood Avenue, Cranston. 464-8877) combines beer and great barbecue, made the right way in a hickory pit smoker. In Middletown, Coddington Brewing Company (210 Coddington Highway, Middletown. 847-6690) has been making great beer since 1995, and offers any combination of 20 seasonal beers like Oktoberfest and Oatmeal Stout. While Rhode Island’s unofficial state beer, Narragansett (www.narragansettbeer.com) doesn’t have a local brewery, it is available at nearly every restaurant around these parts.
The Rhode Island beer industry is booming in Pawtucket, where three breweries have opened in the last few years. Foolproof Brewing (241 Grotto Avenue #1, Pawtucket. 721-5970) makes easily drinkable beer like their Backyahd IPA, and specialized brews like La Ferme Urbaine Farmhouse Ale. Tastings are held Friday evenings. Bucket Brewery (545 Pawtucket Avenue, Pawtucket. 305-0597) went from a basement operation to opening a gorgeous new tasting room this year. Tastings of beers like the Thirteenth Original Maple Stout
and Rhode Scholar are offered on Thursday and Saturdays, and on the third Friday of the month, Bucket hosts Sound Check, a Friday night beer and concert series. When Bucket moved out of its first small brewing space, Brewery 401 took it over, and is currently cooking up its first batches of beer.
In Woonsocket, Ravenous Brewing is a “nano brewery” serving up quality craft beers like Coffee Milk Stout and Blackstone Pale Ale. Tours and tastings happen on select Saturdays, and you can take home 32oz “howlers” if you like what you sip. 840 Cumberland Hill Road, Woonsocket.
Grey Sail Brewing, opened in 2011 by husband and wife duo Alan and Jennifer Brinton, is a labor of love. Housed in a 1920s building that was once the Westerly Macaroni Factory, Grey Sail offers year-round brews like Flying Jenny IPA and Flagship Cream Ale, and complements those with seasonal offerings like Autumn Winds, an Oktoberfest-style ale. The brewery is open Friday afternoon for tastings and growler refills, and offers tours on weekends. 63 Canal Street, Westerly. 315-2533.
The local beer boom also includes another South County brewery – Proclamation Ale Company. The West Kingston suds factory opened late last year, with two releases: Tendril, which owner and brewmaster Dave Witham describes as a “one and a half times IPA,” and Zzzlumber, a “Dutch Imperial Stout,” which spent the summer aging in whiskey barrels before it made its debut for this season. The brewery is open most Saturdays for tours, tastings and growler sales. 141 Fairgrounds Road, West Kingston. 787-6450.
Sons of Liberty might be relatively new to the booze game, but the distillery is already making a big name for itself, winning gold medals this year at two prestigious international competitions for its Hop Flavored Whiskey. SOL’s flagship is Uprising Single Malt American Whiskey, made from 100% malted barley, aged in American and French oak barrels. Sons of Liberty also produces seasonal whiskeys (get a bottle of the fall release, Pumpkin Spice Whiskey, while you can) and Loyal 9 Vodka (try the Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Vodka now and thank us later). Tours and tastings are offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 1425 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown. 284- 4006.
Newport Storm made a name for itself as a brewery. While the beers are delicious – if you don’t try their Oktoberfest, you’re crazy – it’s the rum that’s really worth buzzing over. Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum, which is distilled in the same way Newport’s residents did during the 18th century, when the city was integral to the rum trade, at one point operating 22 distilleries. Tour the brewery and distillery to see the process, and get a taste for yourself. Newport Storm is open every afternoon except Tuesday, and offers guided and self-guided tours. Beer geeks should try Fridays@Six, a free beer appreciation evening open to the first 50 people who sign up on Newport Storm’s Facebook page starting at noon every Friday. 293 JT Connell Road, Newport. 849-5232.
VINEYARDS TO THE NORTH
Nickle Creek, tucked away in Foster, is worth a visit at harvest time or any time. The boutique, family-owned vineyard produces limited run wines (most are just a few hundred cases) in red, white and fruit varietals. The estate grown Foster White is worth a sip, and is the wine included in their Adopt A Vine program, where you can gift your favorite oenophile a vine on the property and get three years worth of wine with it. The tasting room is open Friday-Sunday through December. The first two tastings are complimentary, but if you’d like to try more (and you definitely will), there’s a fee. 12 King Road, Foster. 369-3694.
Wind your way down the shady Diamond Hill Road until you see a tiny sign, and follow the path to Diamond Hill Vineyards, a hidden gem in Cumberland. The winery has been growing grapes since 1976, and produces an Estate Pinot Noir and an Estate Pinot Noir Rose that are worth a second taste. Diamond Hill also specializes in fruit wines like Spiced Apple and Blackberry. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday afternoons. 3145 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland. 333-2751.
Mulberry Vineyards is all about quality over quantity. This past spring, the vineyard bottled its first release, the bright, crisp American Riesling. Mulberry has a red coming this fall, but is keeping the details quiet until its release. For now, visit the historic Andrew Brown Homestead that the winery calls home, and enjoy a glass or two. Open on weekends from 11am-4pm. 95 Pound Road, Chepachet. 217-9288.
VINEYARDS TO THE SOUTH
Langworthy Farm might be South County’s only vineyard, but it’s the only one they need. Housed in a historic farmhouse, Langworthy is part winery and part bed and breakfast – smart marketing on their part, if you ask us. From Labor Day through Christmas Eve, they offer weekend tours of the winery, and reservations are encouraged. Septem- ber 20 and 21, Langworthy will be offering an artisan cheese tasting; an Olive Fest happens Octo- ber 11-12; and a Harvest Soup Fest will warm your bones on November 8-9. We can’t get enough of the local pride that goes into the wines, with names like Misquamicut Merlot, Pawcatuck River Red, Shelter Harbor Chardonnay and Weekapaug White. 308 Shore Road, Westerly. 322-7791.
It’s a good thing Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard is such a pleasant place to be: once you’ve made the drive out to Little Compton, you’re going to want to stay a while. The expansive vines stretch for acres and acres, and are particularly beautiful at harvest time. Buy a bottle – maybe of the deliciously drinkable Rhode Island Red, if you’re feeling a little hometown pride – and take it out into the fields to sip and explore. Daily tours are offered on the hour from 12-3pm. Every day except Tuesday, the Café is serving lunch – think shareables like tapas and flatbreads, plus sandwiches, salads and, of course, cheese plates. Finish your meal with a sip of the sweet Sirius, a refreshing dessert wine, which is enjoyable to the most sugar-averse oenophiles (not that we know from personal experience or anything). 162 West Main Road, Little Compton. 635-8486.
Don’t let the name fool you: Newport Vineyards is actually in Middletown, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of a visit. The expansive vineyard has a huge tasting room, befitting its large array of wines and other spirited beverages. In addition to an impressive selection of reds (try the Gemini Red, a peppery medium-bodied blend, or Rochambeau, a fruit-forward Bordeaux-style blend) and whites (we like the In the Buff unoaked Chardonnay), Newport also produces sparkling wines, dessert wines and Rhody Coyote hard cider. Winery tours are offered daily at 1pm and 3pm, and there’s even a wine bus to take you back and forth to downtown Newport. The ultimate designated driver? We’ll cheers to that. Don’t miss the Harvest Wine Run on September 21, which combines a four-mile run with a wine tasting event, plus a barbecue dinner afterwards. 909 East Main Road, Middletown. 848-5161.
On a sunny autumn afternoon, there’s no more pleasant place to be than Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth. The 24-acre winery is perched on a hill overlooking the Sakonnet River, and the tasting room is housed in a historic barn. On Saturday afternoons, plan to sit and enjoy a bottle of their estate grown wine (when the weather is warm, try the crisp and refreshing Vidal Blanc) while listening to live music. Jazz at Greenvale happens every Saturday afternoon through December, and the whole family – including your four-legged members – are welcome. Greenvale also offers daily tours and tastings at the family-owned vineyard, sometimes even by the owner herself. 582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth. 847-3777.
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