With winter settling back in, and many long nights still to come, it’s time to dig into some winter-ready beers around the region. A good place to start is at the state’s leading brewery, Narragansett, where my party and I enjoyed several selections on a recent evening.
The tasting room at the Fox Point brewery in Providence has become a destination for beer lovers since opening a year and a half ago. Of course, ‘Gansett has a long history in Rhode Island, and its resurgence is one of the great comeback stories in recent memory.
When you stop by the brewery, don’t expect to find the traditional lager, enjoyed by tens of millions at backyard barbeques and baseball games since the early 20th century. The lager is brewed in New York, and due to licensing issues, they can only sell what’s brewed on-site. Have no fear though, there’s always a close substitute available, like the refreshing Pre-Prohibition Lager, a pretty straightforward pour, closely resembling the classic lager.
As far as craft selections, Head Brewer Lee Lord has been busy lately… Gansett is stocked and ready for 2023. There’s something for all tastes, and the kitchen is open for snacks including freshly baked pretzels and more.
I ordered a flight with a few new offerings, focusing on heavier seasonal brews which are popular this time of year. I enjoyed tasting the Black Point Stout, a rich chocolaty imperial stout with a heavy 11.1 ABV punch. Black Point is a richly-bodied dark beer, not for the faint of heart. Another favorite is the traditional Porter, at 5% ABV, it’s “roasty with notes of dark chocolate and brown sugar,” highly rated among beer drinkers.
You’ll be feeling like the higher latitudes as you sip the Norse by Norsewest, which I found to be a surprisingly flavorful brew, with a light fruit complex, a nice alternative to the darker selections popular this time of year. The beer is made with lingonberry, bog myrtle, and juniper, for an authentic Nordic flavor. At 8.4 ABV, it packs a punch.
Another popular winter selection is Innsmouth, a 9.8% Barleywine. The beer is “hopped with traditional English hops, Fuggles, and East Kent Goldings. This traditional English Barleywine presents flavors of rich toffee and dried fruit.”
If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, we recommend Not the Bees, a refreshing farmhouse ale with wildflower honey and elderflower added to bring floral notes to the forefront. At 5.2 ABV, you can sip this Belgium ale all afternoon long. Fans of sours will enjoy the hoppy Strawberry Rhubarb, more tart than sweet, winning the stamp of approval from sour expert Lori Sunshine.
Just added: Another new release, just out as part of the brewery’s “First Thursday” series is Big Dumb Stout. The beer is described as “dessert in a glass and looks like a delicious chocolate milkshake. Thick, decadent, and chocolatey on the palate with complex notes of fudge, dried fruits, and toffee. Delicately hopped to add a little bitterness to round out the huge malt profile.” BDS is brewed with Maris Otter, oats, and a variety of specialty malts,” according to folks at the brewery. Looks like we’ll be headed back to ‘Gansett soon.
The brewery will be busy this season with a full lineup of events including Monday night trivia, live music on most Saturday afternoons, and a variety of food trucks every Sunday.