This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Friday, April 20, 2012

State #8: Rhode Island

Beer: Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale

Brewery: Coastal Extreme Brewing Company, Newport, Rhode Island

ABV: 5.2%

Coastal Extreme Brewing Company's Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale. So-so beer, but an absolute train wreck of a name (nine words!).
Let me being with a longwinded story. A few years back, students in my department used to throw an annual Local Beer Party, to which we would bring beer from all over the country and the world. The party would typically take place in January, when everyone had returned from winter break, so people could grab interesting brews from their home towns, home countries, or wherever they had been doing research over the past months. It was a lot of fun, and we got to try some very good and very bad beers.

The parties also included “bounty prizes,” awarded to those who brought beers from states that nobody had brought beer from in years past. The last year of the party, the only bounty prize states left were Alabama, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. I was back home in Connecticut at the time, so I thought finding beer from Rhode Island would be a breeze. A six pack of Narragansett Lager and 3,000 miles later, the bounty prize would be mine. However, a few hours into the party, someone noticed that my Narragansett Lager was actually brewed in Rochester, New York. Oh, the horror! 

On the bright side: the winds in your logo are spiraling in counterclockwise, as do all cyclonic storms in the northern hemisphere. That being said, next time hire this guy or this guy to do your graphic design. And if you weren't aware, this is THE twelve ounce bottle.
I got to keep my bounty prize (a snazzy snifter glass for drinking fancy Belgian ales), but I learned an interesting lesson about the geography of brewing: a lot of beer is not made where it appears to have been made. To wit: I recently purchased a six pack of Magic Hat (ostensibly from Vermont) for this blog, only to realize later that it, too, was brewed in Rochester. What the hell, Rochester?

Newport Storm Brewing Company, however, is most definitely in Rhode Island, so I feel like my bounty prize is earned now. I tried their awkwardly named Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale while I was home this winter to knock another state off my list.
Here's what the map looks like now. Apparently I need to start drinking more large states or more flyover states.
There really isn’t a lot of brewing going on in Rhode Island, which I suppose is excusable, given its wee size. That being said, I had high hopes that Coastal Extreme Brewing Company Newport Storm Hurricane Amber Ale (nine words!) would carry the Ocean State’s beer banner with a little more pride, given its relative lack of in-state competition. Instead, it was merely okay. It had plenty of flavor, but was way too sweet for my liking. It was also disappointingly watery and flat, especially for an ale. It still beats the fizzy yellow stuff, but not by much. When I picked it up at the liquor store in Fairfield there was a sheen of dust on the bottles, which is never a good sign.

The beer is not evocative of The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635, but it does have a an accurate hurricane symbol on its bottle cap.
Finally, I think marketing craft beer with local imagery is a great idea, but I really don’t think of hurricanes when I think of Rhode Island. I do think of clams, bridges, beaches, funny accents, lighthouses, and Nibbles Woodaway, who would make a fantastic mascot for just about anything. Family Guy’s Pawtucket Patriot has the right idea, at least insofar as its marketing approach is concerned. Oh well. 

"Mediocre beer"

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