On Tap: The Latest Brewery and Distillery News In Rhode Island

Supply shortages in the beer industry, Best of Rhode Island winners, and more news from Rhode Island's craft beer and distilling scene.

Welcome to “On Tap,” your monthly roundup of news and brews from Rhode Island’s craft beer and distilling scene. As always, follow along with our social media at @rimonthly and @TheDishRIM for more food and drink news, and email any beer and spirits tips to lclem@rimonthly.com. Cheers!

FULL POUR

Rhode Island Beer Will Stay Fizzy, For Now (But It Might Cost More)

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Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Massachusetts, will move most of its production to the Guild in Pawtucket and Jack’s Abby in Framingham. The company attributed the move to a CO2 shortage and outgrowth of the Everett facility.

In July, the news that Night Shift Brewing in Massachusetts would shift production to other facilities in New England sent waves through the brewing world, reminding consumers that craft breweries are not immune to the supply chain issues that have ravaged the restaurant industry (and just about every other industry) since the start of the pandemic.

The company announced on July 27 it was ceasing the majority of production at its Everett flagship facility and moving production to its partner facilities at the Guild in Pawtucket and Jack’s Abby in Framingham, Mass. The move, which will result in staff layoffs, was attributed to a shortage of CO2 used in the carbonation process and the outgrowth of the Everett facility.

While Rhode Island breweries haven’t reported any significant disruption from CO2 shortages, several local business owners told Rhode Island Monthly they’re seeing shortages of other supplies that are affecting their ability to do business. Jennifer Brinton, owner of Grey Sail Brewing in Westerly, says the company’s can supplier of ten years recently cut them off after they were unable to purchase cans in much larger quantities than they have previously.

“Fortunately, there were other suppliers who stepped in and used their big contracts to facilitate their smaller brewers. However, that also comes with paying a middleman price, plus the expense of aluminum going up and shipping going up,” she says.

In addition, she says, some of their suppliers are now charging a fuel surcharge to account for the increased cost of fuel, resulting in shipping costs as much as four times what they were prior to the pandemic. As a result, the brewery raised its prices this past spring — the first price increase in four years.

“That still doesn’t cover everything,” she says. “Nobody would buy our beer. It would be way too expensive. So we’ve absorbed it in just different ways. We’ve cut out other stuff.”

Charlie Baron, owner of Blackstone Valley Brewing Supplies in Woonsocket, says the supply shortages are also affecting home brewers. While the business’s CO2 supply has been stable, he says, he’s seen a significant increase in the cost of grain used in the brewing process. Their main supplier, he says, has increased grain prices by about 10 percent over the past couple years, with the expectation the cost might plateau some time in 2024.

“Home brewing is something that I like to make approachable to people, so we didn’t raise our prices right away. But after a recent price hike that happened at the end of last year, it was inevitable that we had to raise our rates,” he says.

In Pawtucket, the Guild co-founder Jeremy Duffy says there is currently a shortage of CO2 in the Boston marketplace, but he has not heard of any Rhode Island breweries having issues. Duffy says he looks forward to continuing the partnership with Night Shift, which has brewed at the Guild for several years.

“We are in regular communication with our contract supplier that handles our main brewery in Pawtucket and confirmed that there are no current or future disruptions of our CO2 supply,” Duffy writes in an email. “As for Rhode Island breweries, we have not heard of any having CO2 issues at the moment. As for Night Shift Brewing, we have worked with them for many years now, and look forward to continuing our partnership.”

 

2022 Ri Monthly Best Of Blueflash 516

The RIDEA Committee celebrates at the Best of Rhode Island Party on July 21. Photo by Blueflash Photography

SMALL SIPS

• Congratulations to all of our Best of Rhode Island winners, including Narragansett Beer, Providence Brewing Company, Pivotal Brewing Company, the Guild in Warren, Ragged Island Brewing Company, the Rhode Island Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action in Craft Beverage Committee and RI Cruisin’ Cocktails in the Editors’ Picks, and Grey Sail Brewing (for Local Brewery/Brewpub) and Mews Tavern (for Beers on Tap) in the Readers’ Poll. We had a great time celebrating at our Best of Rhode Island Party on July 21. Check out the full list of winners here.

• Bristol’s Unity Park has transformed a formerly underused industrial space into a haven for beer, food and coffee lovers alike, with favorites like Pivotal Brewing Company and Brick Pizza Co. making their home in the complex. Get all the details from Editor-in-Chief Jamie Coelho here.

• Need some inspiration on how to spend those hot summer afternoons? We’ve got you covered with our guide to eleven great local beer gardens.

• The Rhode Island Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action in Craft Beverage Committee and Johnson and Wales University are now accepting applications for the first-ever RIDEA scholarship. Candidates are asked to describe their experiences with discrimination and how they would work to fight it in the industry. Students enrolled in beverage-related major, minor and certificate programs at Johnson and Wales are encouraged to apply. Read more about the committee’s efforts to create a more inclusive brew scene here.

 

EVENTS AND HAPPENINGS

Rhode Island Blood Center is bringing back its popular Pint for a Pint campaign. Now through Sept. 10, donate blood at a participating center or drive and get a coupon for a free pint at one of eight breweries, including Bravo, Grey Sail, the Guild, LineSider, Narragansett, Proclamation, Taproot and Whalers.

Foolproof Brewing Company will host Augtoberfest on Saturday, Aug. 13, featuring food trucks, a special Augtoberfest brew and a slip-and-slide. Tickets are available here.

Long Live Beerworks will host a beer dinner with Mosaic Table on Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Providence brewery. Tickets are available through Mosaic Table here.

Japas Cervejaria founders Maíra Kimura, Yumi Shimada and Fernanda Ueno will stop into Providence on Sunday, Aug. 14, for a food and beer pairing at Fortnight Wine Bar from 5 p.m. to midnight. The event will highlight nine Japas Cervejaria beers along with a la carte dishes.

Rejects Beer Co. is hosting a Backyard BBQ Bender on Sunday, Aug. 21, from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Middletown brewery. Live music, burgers and hot dogs are on the schedule for the free admission event.

• Tickets are sold out for the Ocean State Beer Festival on Aug. 21, but you can still snag tickets for Brew at the Zoo at Roger Williams Park Zoo on Aug. 27.

• Congratulations to Whalers Brewing Company for taking silver in the Berliner-Styler Weisse category at the U.S. Open Beer Competition with Company Pieces.

 

LABEL OF THE MONTH

North of the Tower

Photo courtesy of Proclamation Ale Company

North of the Tower from Proclamation Ale Company and Oslo Brewing Company

From @proclamationale: “Believe it or not, the roots of both Proc and @oslobrewingcompany lie in South County (aka Washington County), Rhode Island. Dimitri, the owner of Oslo, is a native of South Kingstown, RI and graduated from the same high school 5 years after our founder, Dave. Dimitri moved to Norway in 2009, but comes back to RI for a visit every summer.

The summer before he opened Oslo, he went to the OG Proc location in West Kingston and talked to Dave about brewing and the ins and outs of opening a brewery. Years later, we’ve finally joined forces officially to create a delicious collaboration beer.

While this collab includes breweries that are 3,535 mi apart, we decided it only appropriate to bring attention to the fact that the breweries are rooted in a state that has an aversion to driving long distances. We hope people way down in South County will pack a lunch and maybe an overnight bag, and take that trip North of the Tower to grab some of this beer.” proclamationaleco.com

 

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