Recently the Beeriety crew went down to Providence, RI to attend the first Beervana Beer Festival in the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. There was a lot of beer to try, and a lot of fun was had by all.
The most striking thing about this beer festival was its location. The botanical gardens were a far cry from the usual convention halls in which most beer festivals take place. The high glass and metal ceilings and the plethora of large and exotic plant life made it feel like a beer festival in the bio-dome. The environment was fun, even if the winding layout made it tough at times to find your favorite brewer. All of the glass and metal didn’t absorb much of the noise of 500 chatty beer lovers either, which made talking to the various brewers a bit of challenge at times.
Of course, the beer and not the location was the reason we went down to Providence, and on that front, Beervana was a rousing success. Over 20 different brewers and importers offered a huge variety of different brews, including many that weren’t available anywhere else. There were many different beers to try, but the ones which stood out most in our minds were the scotch ales and other liquor-inspired offerings.
Here’s a breakdown of some of our favorites:
Newport Storm Rum-Chipped Marzen- This was a traditional German marzen brewed with chips from an oak barrel which had been used to age rum. (The chips were strained out before bottling.) The sweet, warm flavors of the rum imparted a subtle vanilla taste to this beer.
Brooklyn Brewery Manhattan Project- This beer was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and David Wondrich, drinks editor of Esquire magazine. It was aged in rye whiskey barrels for a wonderfully smoky aroma and taste.
Berkshire Brewing Company Wood-aged Scotch Ale- Another great, barrel-aged scotch ale with a powerful aroma matched only by its alcoholic strength.
Samuel Smith Stingo- This classic Yorkshire brewery unveiled their latest creation, which was aged in oak barrels for over a year before bottling. The oak blended nicely with the buttery flavors from Sam Smith’s house yeast.
Smuttynose Brewing Oaked Tripel Penetration- A great twist on a traditional Belgian style tripel. The heavy oak notes blended well with the light flavors of a tripel.
In addition to all of the great beer, there were special guest speakers. Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing Co., spoke about barrel aged beer. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, spoke about his special ancient ales project. Both speakers attracted large crowds, but it was no surprise to see that Calagione drew the biggest audience, as he’s known throughout the craft brew world for his blunt nature.
All and all, it was a great time and a well organized event, especially for a festival in its first year. If you’re in the area next year, be sure to check out Beervana.