CRANSTON, RHODE ISLAND
Inside a freestanding brown warehouse with copper aluminum roof and blue-yellow signpost in westernmost Cranston, BRUTOPIA BREWERY & KITCHEN opened its doors springtime, 2014. Championed Rhode Island brewer, Sean Larkin, created the trusty beer recipes and the variegated hickory-smoked barbecue menu also deserves plaudits.
A capacious Industrial sportsbar with exposed ducts and metal rafters, its left side windowed brew tanks, rectangular central bar (with 24-plus taps and multiple TV’s), separate dining room and far right enclosed patio deck (with umbrella-laden picnic tables) provide plentiful open space.
Brutopia starts getting packed as I settle into eleven 5-ounce samplers while chomping on delicious fried pretzels with homemade cheese salad this early Friday evening in October ’14.
Larkin, a well-experienced brewmaster, initially gained respect at nearby Providence mainstay, Trinity, then spread his time reinvigorating Rhode Island’s oldest brewery, Narragansett, and creating fine microbrewery, Revival. His taste usually runs towards the more robust, fuller bodied dark ales, but there’s no stopping his fertile imagination as proven by the Belgian and autumn influenced elixirs currently available at Brutopia.
While sessionable Bliss Light Lager suited blue collar thirsts, a finer choice may be fruit-spiced moderation, Valhalla Amber Ale, a stylishly hearty caramel malt-sweetened nicety with apple, peach and pear fruiting contrasting mild grapefruit tartness, acrid wood tones and toasted hop bittering.
A dynamic citric front end enveloped the sharp wood interior of Never Ender IPA, where orange-peeled grapefruit rind bittering contrasted the tropical pineapple, mango and kiwi uprising. Citric ‘hop bomb,’ First Coast Belgian Double IPA, brought wafting perfumed florality to piney hop oiled lacquering and yellow grapefruit-imbibed lemon rind bittering. Earthen nuttiness and fruity caramel spiced enlightened Munk Belgian Abbey Ale. A more demure Belgian, refreshingly moderate Blossom Belgian White layered black-peppered Belgian yeast fungi atop orange-peeled coriander spicing, corny pilsner malting and earthen hop resin.
On the dark side, brown-sugared Bonfire Brown Ale countered honey-roasted toffee sweetness with citric-soured hop spices and soily nuttiness. Soft-toned Hello Darkness blended Revival Imperial Stout with White Electric coffee and retained a light chicory-roasted hazelnut coffee serenity as wispy charcoal-burnt hop bitterness and subtle berry tartness seeped inside its splendid java theme. Dry-bodied Dark Marvel Stout stayed mildly creamy, overloading black coffee bittering with dark-roasted chocolate malting.
By 7 PM, the place was jamming and I tried the two autumn seasonals. While crisply clean Oktoberfest brought wood-toned citric bittering to corn-sugared malts and leafy hops, a better choice was outstanding cinnamon-toasted pumpkin pie-like The Patch, an alcohol burnt full body combining Blossom, Munk, Bonfire and Dark Marvel with impressive results. Its vanilla-sugared gingerbread, chestnut and nutmeg illusions surged alongside the sweet pumpkin pureeing.