Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Newport Storm Brewery

Newport, Rhode Island is a pretty sweet place to spend a weekend. For one, it’s home to a series of mansions so opulent that you experience a strange mix of being simultaneously amazed and pissed off when you see them. (Awenger?)

Secondly, someone told us that Newport has the highest number of bars per capita in the United States. Am I going to verify that before I post it? Hell no! This isn’t the Times, buddy! Even if it’s a slight overstatement, there really are a ton of different places to eat and drink. Which works for us, because this blog is called Food Plus Beer.

And thirdly, there’s a brewery there! What’s a visit to an idyllic, coastal New England town without a good brewery tour?

There's beer in those!

We arrived at the brewery around 2 pm, which isn’t an important detail in the least. Upon entering the brewery, you pay 7 bucks, get a Newport Storm glass (which you get to keep), and you’re handed a card with the names of the 4 beers on tap which gets checked off as you drink.

The first was Rhode Island Blueberry – a Kolsch brewed with real blueberries from a local farm. As cool as that is, this beer wasn’t really our style. A bit too light-bodied for our taste and while the smell and taste of blueberry was ever-present, it wasn’t particularly appealing.

Then came their flagship, Hurricane Amber Ale. Another style that Kyle and I don’t really gravitate to, but this was actually fairly impressive. A good hop/malt balance and quite drinkable…an ideal boat beer, let’s put it that way.

Next came their Oktoberfest, which was nice and malty, refreshing, and taught me how to speak German. It was a good Oktoberfest, but in all fairness I’ve been spoiled by the excellent Brooklyn Oktoberfest this year and I’ve found that all others pale in comparison. But the star of the Newport Storm show was the last beer – an unnamed, “Experimental” Belgian beer.

You see, one of the brewery’s cooler gimmicks is their Cyclone series beers, which are one-off, single-batch brews named using the same system as we name hurricanes (i.e. running down the alphabet, alternating genders. Adam, Barbara, Carl, Denise…you get the picture).

The experimental Belgian was just something they were kicking around as a possibility for their next Cyclone beer, which will be a female “S” name (Susan? Sally? Sandra? Sasha?) and it was very impressive. It seemed like a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with a different yeast strain than you’d expect from the style, which added a bit of sweetness and removed some of the esters and “Belgian-ness” that you typically come across Delicious. We’d certainly buy a 6er of it. One more thing of note about the brewery is that it’s also a distillery. Besides being the brewers of Newport Storm, they are the distillers of Thomas Tew rum. So, we got to learn a bit about the rum-making process alongside all the science of brewing that we already knew.

There's rum in these!

All in all, Newport Storm is a nice stop in a town that has plenty of nice stops. Check it out next time you’re in the area, and tell them Food Plus Beer sent you. They’ll have no idea what you’re talking about, but tell them anyway.