Cheers to South County's Craft Beer Scene

Raising a glass to the region's small-but-mighty breweries

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Rhode Island’s craft beer scene is a lot like a good stout: well-rounded and strong, and for first timers, a bit surprising. For a small state, we boast a pretty impressive number of local breweries – over 25! – and roughly a third can be found in South County alone. Not only are these taprooms easygoing destinations for friends and family to unwind, but they’re also major players in the state’s tourism industry, economy, and respective communities.

 

Apponaug Brewing

Located in the historic Pontiac Mill, this two-year-old brewpub is an unexpected oasis masked in brick and overlooking the Pawtuxet River. “Apponaug Brewing is our vision of a Third Place,” explains owners Tamara McKenney and Kris Waugh, “an essential refuge apart from the daily hustle of home and work.” Peruse the food menu featuring casual fare like fried pickles, poutine fries, sliders, and flatbreads, plus a fun choice between an ice cream sandwich or homemade Ring Dings for dessert. Of course, the real star is their beer, which is sourced right from the tank: stouts, festbiers, pale ales, and IPAs. Right now you can order cocktails, cans, and food for curbside pickup, enjoy a pour in their taproom, or best of all, lounge with a cold one on their sprawling stone patio boasting bistro lights, barrel tables, firepit, and capacity for up to 55 people safely distanced.

FALL FAVES: Apponaug recently welcomed new head brewer Mike Webster, who has some exciting new beers on the way this month, including two new IPAs, an American Best Bitter, and an Imperial IPA.

BEYOND BREWS: In months past, the Warwick brewery has partnered with local businesses for events like a Yoga and Beer class, and hopes to host more outdoor ones through the winter months...it might get chilly, though, so snag some of their merch like knit hats or thermal shirts branded with an adorable pair of cheersing beavers.

334 Knight Street, Warwick @apponaugbrewing

 

General’s Crossing Brewhouse

George Washington drank here? Well, not exactly, but when the General crossed Conanicut Island, chances are good he would’ve marched past the front door, or so the owners of General’s Crossing Brewhouse would have us believe. Either way, it makes a great origin story for the second-smallest brewery in Rhode Island. Owners Tom McNiff and Will Tuttle are friends who turned their love for home brewing into more than a small side-hustle. Sharing space with Conanicut Brewing supply store, GCB patrons can find faves like Honey Hibiscus Wit, Conanicut Pale Ale, and returning greatest hits by the pour, can, or four-pack. Outdoor seating is available and recently expanded, so bundle up and enjoy a cold one in the heart of Jamestown. Tuttle and McNiff note that dogs are welcome, if they’re cool, “but if you come in and start barking at people, then maybe today’s not your day” because as the GCB T-shirt says: The only pressure here is in the tanks.

FALL FAVES: At press time, our sources couldn’t confirm exactly what would be on tap, but word on the street is that regulars are hoping for the return of Munich Madness Oktoberfest and Gingerbread Stout, described as “gingerbread cookies in a glass.”

BEYOND BREWS: Follow along on Instagram @gensxing for postings about events, what they’re pouring (including new flavor launches), food pop-ups, Ts, stickers, and more.

34 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown • @gensxing

 

 

Grey Sail Brewing

Grey Sail has been a South County staple since 2011, when owners Alan and Jennifer Brinton transformed the former Westerly Macaroni Factory into the perfect place to brew pale ales, IPAs, and stouts recognizable by colorful can labels and commemorative names. During the pandemic, they’ve switched to focus mostly on can distribution thanks to supportive local liquor stores, and “we’re really proud that we’ve been able to keep our entire staff intact,” adds Jennifer. For now, patrons can enjoy favorites like the Dave’s Coffee Stout, Captain’s Daughter, or Flying Jenny in Grey Sail’s limited-capacity taproom or out in their expansive beer garden, which features a patio, fountain, lawn, and 24 socially distanced tables.

FALL FAVES: Try Grey Sail’s tried-and-true Oktoberfest-style beer Autumn Winds or their newly released Haze Ho!, a New England IPA featuring a double dose of Citra and Mosaic dry hops.

BEYOND BREWS: Grey Sail typically partners with local nonprofits for rotating events under their “Cheers for Charity” initiative, and while they can’t offer up the brewery space for large fundraisers at the moment, they’ve teamed up with Stand Up For Animals for November’s PAWTUMN Virtual 5k. Plus, check out their sister company South County Distillers for craft rum, gin, and vodka.

63 Canal Street, Westerly@greysail

 

LineSider Brewing Co.

LineSider is a landmark for several reasons: First, it’s co-owned by former Patriots player Dan Koppen and aerospace engineer Jeremy Ruff. Second, it’s East Greenwich’s first brewery. And third, it’s a destination unto itself with over 4,200 square feet of space, capability to brew 1,000 barrels of beer each year, and rotating lineup of food trucks, trivia, and live music. “We want this to be a place where families are welcome,” begins Koppen. “Beer drinkers are welcome. Non-beer drinkers are welcome. We want to put something on the menu for everybody.” At the moment, you can grab any of LineSider’s rotating brews (including the aptly named Shelter In Place or The New Norm) online for curbside pickup, refill your howlers and growlers, or stakeout for the game in their spacious taproom.

FALL FAVES: Try Ruff Haus (Oktoberfest) or Happy Camper (s’mores stout) for the quintessential flavors of autumn, but also keep an eye out for last-minute new releases!

BEYOND BREWS: Stay tuned on social media for LineSider’s special guests, including frequent pop-ups from Paco’s Tacos, The Burgundian, and Supa Dupa, plus DJ Trivia to get the whole gang involved!

1485 South County Trail, East Greenwich • @linesiderbrewing

 

 

Proclamation Ale Company

Founded in 2014, “PROC” emerged in the beer scene with the goal of crafting exciting brews a little edgier than the standard amber ale. The hip atmosphere naturally followed. “We want our brewery to be a creative, honest, friendly, and supportive space for our beer community to enjoy and our entire staff to thrive and grow in,” explains Lori Witham, PROC’s creative lead. “We only make things that we love and we take what we do seriously, but don’t take ourselves too seriously.” Along with IPAs, stouts, and fruited sours, a variety of mixed fermentation beers are made possible with a 2,000-square-foot barrel aging cellar, fondly dubbed Oakville, which will see some new releases by the end of the year. For now, cans are only available to-go with walkup or online pre-order options and statewide distribution, but an indoor taproom complete with arcade cabinets awaits reopening during safer times.

FALL FAVES: The oatmeal milk stout Broze is a cold-weather favorite, along with crisp, slightly tart oak-aged ales. Watch for new releases incorporating wine grapes this month, too.

BEYOND BREWS: While browsing online for singles and four-packs, add a stylish tumbler or teku glass, modern-minimalist can art print, winter beanie, neck gaitor, or even a Tricycle ice cream sandwich to your order.

815 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick@proclamationale

 

Shaidzon Beer Company

November is special for Shaidzon founders Josh Letourneau and Chip Samson, not just because the cold weather ushers in porters and stouts, but also because the craft brewery (their dream project) opened its doors three years ago, the day before Thanksgiving. “Josh and I have been friends since we were teenagers and both developed the craft beer bug over time in different ways,” Samson says, recounting a trip they took to Germany and the Czech Republic for research...and to experience an authentic Oktoberfest celebration. “Our vision is to take our global influence in all varieties of beer, bring that into our brewing here in West Kingston, and grow a fun, local experience with delicious beer.” The team hopes to extend their beer garden into the colder months, while fully aware of the challenges: Beyond keeping patrons warm, there’s keeping the beer supply lines from freezing up, electricity, lighting, and safety. Samson assures, “We're brainstorming a lot and cranking away on improvements every day.”

FALL FAVES: Their all-time staple is the crisp, accessible Buffalo Czech Pilsner, with a subtle sweetness ideal for fall sipping, and the London Dungeon Porter is a rich holiday fave. For their anniversary brew, Samson says they’ll stick with tradition: “We will likely keep our imperial stout train rolling past Kingston Station with another specialty flavored dessert-like dark beer treat!”

BEYOND BREWS: If all goes according to plan, Shaidzon’s Anniversary weekend November 20-22 will feature live music from Take it to the Bridge and chicken sammies from CUFFS Counter to accompany creative new brew releases.

141 Fairgrounds Road, West Kingston@shaidzonbeerco

 

 

Tilted Barn Brewery

Owners Matt and Kara Richardson took a slightly different path to crafting their own brews, beginning by launching Rhode Island’s first commercial hop farm and only later taking to developing recipes with a homebrew kit. Kara’s 33-acre family farm and century-old (and slightly tilted) barn have housed the brewery since 2014. “A trip to our farm brewery is beyond that of the normal brewery experience,” Matt explains. “Visitors can get a firsthand look at what goes into each batch of our hand-crafted beer. You'll get to learn a little history of not only farming in our area, but hop farming throughout all of New England.” While the packed barn, with a wood stove roaring on cool nights, has long been a part of the Tilted Barn experience, the operation has outgrown the barn itself and a new brewhouse is in the works. “The new building will be situated on the hill overlooking the sheep and donkeys grazing through the hops and Christmas trees with the original barn in the background,” Matt says. “This is the best view of the farm, which we are happy to share with everyone who visits.”

FALL FAVES: November brings a new, spacious taproom to sample one of their many hazy and hop-forward double IPAs, available during any season, and watch for creative fall collabs with other local breweries hitting the taps this month.

BEYOND BREWS: Along with curbside cans, find plenty of cozy hoodies, hops T-shirts for the kids, “dad hats,” and even farm-fresh eggs.

1 Hemsley Place, Exeter@tiltedbarnbrewery

 

 

Whalers Brewing Company

One sip and you’ll understand why the New York International Beer Competition named Whalers Rhode Island Brewery of the Year for 2020. Housed in the former Palisades textile mill, Josh Dunlap and Wes Staschke transformed the historic site into a brewery, launching their business in 2014. Ever since, the duo has been racking up awards that most recently include Pale Ale of the Year from Meininger’s International Craft Beer Award and a Gold Medal from Frankfurt International Trophy, both for their flagship Rise. As with most everything else, the taproom has made many changes to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines. “We’re open to the public with limited seating to ensure that there’s enough space for customers to enjoy our beer while socially distancing,” says Joanne Liu, graphic designer, who also notes, “Leashed, friendly dogs are still welcome!”

FALL FAVES: There’s all kinds of specialty autumn brews to be found in the Whalers taproom that read like a dessert menu: #PumpkinBeer features a rich caramel body with warm notes of brown sugar and cinnamon; Piesces is a sour ale inspired by apple pie; and Pretender is a stout brewed with coffee, chocolate, and raspberry.

BEYOND BREWS: While they don’t fill patron’s own growlers, there are fresh prefilled 32 oz “howlers” at the ready each day, along with merch like cozy crewnecks, windbreakers, and baseball caps featuring their cool logo.

1174 Kingstown Road, Wakefield@WhalersBrewing

 

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