Our time in New York was very hot and very metropolitan and with Brooklyn now fixed steadily in our side view mirrors we decided that we were well over due for some cool coastal trippin. Since Rhode Island has more coastline than any other state and since the Cheddar Yeti, good RVing friends of ours, were in the middle of a long term stay in Jamestown, RI we figured this would be a perfect time to meet up, explore The Ocean State, and cool down.
When traveling in a new region we like get a feel for the local culture by eating and drinking it, and sure enough after being in Rhode Island for less than 30 minutes we had procured a lobster roll and bought a six-pack of the local ale. The lobster roll was good, but was essentially just several hunks of lobster served on hot dog bun and drenched in butter for $13. Not bad, but not a show stopper.The beer however was quite impressive as it proved to be an easy drinking beer that finished clean…perfect for a finally cool summer afternoon.
We enjoyed the beer so much that we decided we should go visit the source, Grey Sail Brewing. So after a couple of days camping in Narraganset we headed out to Westerly, RI the home of Grey Sail Brewing Company. The brewery opened less than a year ago and focuses on canning and kegging. They currently only have tasting / tour hours once a week on Saturdays from 1-5pm. This gave us plenty of time to do couple laps around the brewery while looking for a parking spot for Stanley before ultimately parking downtown and riding the bikes a short ways to their facility.
Grey Sail is a nice family story, as the husband and wife team of Alan (home brewer) and Jennifer Brinton (entrepreneur) had decided to open up a brewery several years ago, but plans were put on hold as a fourth child was on the way. Perseverance paid off though as they were finally able to secure a location (the old Macaroni factory in Westerly) and retrofit a brewing system that had previously been used in China. With the brew house all set-up they were ready to start cranking out some high quality suds.
Alan told us the whole idea for the brewery was to start a family business that the kids could one day take over if they were so inclined. The importance of family quickly becomes apparent when you notice that the mural in tasting room depicts all the family members (newborn and all). The Flying Jenny Extra Pale Ale is named after Jennifer and the brewery name, Grey Sail, is actually a play on their daughter’s name Grace (Grace Ale). Grace even had a lemonade stand set-up when arrived. It was really cool to hear how the whole thing came together while simultaneously tasting the end product. Alan was very knowledgeable about the local beer scene and gave us some tips for our travels as we go North.
It was great to see the family side of craft beer but as with all all aspects of life we needed some balance and decided this was a perfect time for some anti-family value fun…which of course meant it was time to Hash. I looked up the Rhode Island hashing group and there just happened to be a run scheduled for Monday in Tiverton, SCORE!
Now hashes are a bit a of a rowdy affair so I can’t go into all the details but the short list of highlights included: a beautiful coastal trail run, a sprained ankle, waste deep water, big jugs of Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA and India Brown Ale, a bevy of sexual songs, bug spray, a little nudity, and about 30 pizzas. Luckily the hare had assured us prior to the event that we could park the RV overnight at his house which was the location of the after party which is ideal because after hashing we weren’t going to be driving anywhere.
When we awoke we had a hung over bulldog and some severely water logged shoes. Some recovery grub and hydration were necessary before we were ready to meet up with our friends on the island of Jamestown. Dennis and Jeanette are fellow freelancing nomads who have been on a similar northern course this Spring and Summer. Dennis grew up in Jamestown and was able to secure a parking spot for Stanley in his cousin’s backyard while the four of us explored the 1 mile by 10 mile island.
I eventually needed a drink and was curious to try the local beer that made it big. Narraganset lager was originally a very local beer being founded in Rhode Island in 1890 and eventually became the number 1 selling beer in New England, but fell on hard times after changing hands several times and closed down in 1981. In 2005 a group of Rhode Island investors bought the brand and now use a combination of contract brewers and in-house brewing spread through out New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island to produce their beer. While not one of the big boys, Naragansett it is commonly known as the High Life of the North East and is not counted among the who’s who of craft beer in the area.
After our Jamestown fun it was time to go to Providence and we had two major objectives 1) visit RISD to satisfy our creative curiosities and 2) visit Trinity Brewhouse to satisfy our fermented curiosities. Fortunately, RISD was hosting an event at the museum and it was open later than usual (and free!) which allowed us to get a quick tour in since we ended up running a little late. I didn’t get to see the more designery stuff that I would like, but we still found some pieces that inspired us:
Not to mention this cool installation with hanging panes of glass.
When we finally arrived at Trinity I was ready for a beer. The place had a very unique vibe that was accented by hand painted signs mimicking old carnival posters. I sampled a couple drafts and settled on the Rhode Island IPA while Maria enjoyed the Bobby Pilz Pilsner. Providence is a great place to experience the North Eastern accent as, I was informed, a lot of people who live in the area never seem to leave. We had several conversations at Trinity that were nearly incomprehensible. Maria had to ask a guy to repeat himself three times before she finally gave up still not knowing what he was talking about. Luckily, a good portion of the conversation revolved around beer, which needed no translation.
After two weeks of cooling down in Rhode Island we found that it had a very homey feel where people know their neighbors and anything more than a 10 minute drive is probably too far. Nothing better than catching come coastal breezes with friends to stay cool after a hot time in NYC.