Tag Archives: WESTERLY RI

THE MALTED BARLEY

Westerly's Malted Baley
WESTERLY, RHODE ISLAND
 
Tucked into the rustic High Street downtown area of Westerly, Rhode Island, THE MALTED BARLEY opened its doors May, 2011. A swell local beer joint featuring excellent freshly-made gourmet pretzel sandwiches that pair well with the 40-plus tapped selections at the left side bar, this moderate-sized wood-furnished craft beer establishment is the pride of owners Colin and Stephanie Bennett (who met at a Honolulu brewery).
  
As my wife, daughter and I take a seat at the front windowed table, old Blues music blares on this sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-December ’12. The pale blue-walled interior (with red brick sides and exposed pipes) houses twenty bar stools and approximately ten strewn tables. A small TV at the rear of the bar catches the attention of a few customers and eight empty wooden pony kegs at the bar reinforce the beer-centric theme. A midsize back deck with green awning is situated along the Pawcatuck River, providing calm splendor to outside guests.
  
Alongside four local New england brews, I enjoy the pretzel-breaded bratwurst and sauerkraut while my daughter munches on the creamy havarti-cheesed turkey pretzel sandwich and my wife consumes the roast beef with red onions, cabbage slaw and garlic. Beforehand, we all shared a simply delicious apricot-buttered grureye-cheesed pretzel.
  
Today’s previously untried beers include two of Westerly’s own Grey Sail selections, coffee-fronted habanero-heated Leaning Chimney Porter and spicy yellow-fruited 1st Anniversary Imperial Pilsner. Nearby Massachusetts’ Revival Larkin’s Dry Irish Stout retained a pleasant black coffee-stained charred oats roast and New Hampshire’s Woodstock Inn Pig’s Ear Brown brought dark-spiced floral hops to peanut-shelled walnut.
 
During June ’13 lunchtime session, ate summer spinach soup (with chickpeas), Cannellini pretzel (with goat-cheesed walnut, cranberry, sliced pear and arugula) and a spinach artichoke-dipped pretzel with wife. Alongside, quaffed two saisons, a Flanders Red and a wheat ale.
 
Lemony banana-clove-coriander-fronted Green Flash Saison Diego added a white-peppered herbal respite and botanical grains of paradise briskness to the ‘golden farmhouse ale.’ Summery strawberry-aided Cape Ann Fisherman’s Sunrise Saison brought soft hop spicing to banana daiquiri, bruised peach and cherry rhubard illusions. Peak Organic Pomegranate Wheat invited yellow-fruited cranberry and raspberry tang to the fold. Intimidatingly sour Grey Sail Rouge A Nuit put forth oaken cherry tartness, vinous green grape tannins and balsamic vinegaring for a mouth-puckering eye squinter only a Sour Ale lover could fully appreciate. (Full reviews in Beer Index).
 
A wonderful upscale saloon in a friendly New England post, The Malted Barley is a sheer delight. Count it alongside Wakefield’s Mew’s and Warwick’s Track 84 as one of the best beer bars Rhode Island has to offer.
 

GREY SAIL BREWING COMPANY

WESTERLY, RHODE ISLAND

Tucked away in a rustic industrial section at an old red brick warehouse that served as a macaroni packager ’til World War II and a Post Office thereafter, GREY SAIL BREWING COMPANY came into existence November 11, 2011 (following a 2010 flood that wiped out Napa Auto Parts). Making consistent midrange beers for mainstream and highbrow drinkers alike, the Connecticut-bordered Rhode Island brewery hopes to do 1,200 barrels per year.

Owned by passionate home brewing enthusiast, Alan Brinton, and his hands-on Jersey-bred wife, Jennifer, a fruit and pumpkin ale fan, Grey Sail has gained the attention of the li’l Ocean State with its rock solid selections.

At the front windowed tasting room, brewer Josh Letourneau (former Mayflower associate) graciously poured Grey Sail’s best-known suds for me, August 2012. Adorned by a beautiful brewroom mural, the oak-floored space has a cozy living room feel backed by insulated silver kettles and thousands of empty cans readied for filling.

Much like nearby Connecticut competitor, New England Brewery, Letourneau prefers cans over bottles. A huge fan of Maine-based Allagash White and Belgium’s Wittekerk Wit, his brews ‘play well into the surrounding coastal beach area.’

Letourneau claims, “Cans are better for packaging. There’s zero light exposure and caps on bottles will allow oxygen ingress over time. Plus, freight costs are lower and recyclability is easier. Also, the artwork envelops the whole can.”

Though I’d miss his darkest offering, Leaning Chimney Smoked Porter, two easygoing year-round offerings, one neat Belgian-styled knockoff, a surefire autumnal seasonal and a trusty bitter proved to be one nifty step beyond stylistic parameters on tap. 

The highly approachable fare included scintillating lightweight, Flagship Ale, a winning cream ale with a misty Long Island Sound crispness. Its silken pale-caramel malting, soft citric-hopped bittering, recessive lemony orange spritz and honeyed wheat base reached the salty bottom with casual aplomb. Equally impressive, medium-bodied IPA crossover, Flying Jenny Extra Pale Ale placed orange-peeled grapefruit pith bittering above bark-dried Columbus hops and fruited Cascade hops, finishing with a sassy lemon-seeded twinge. (Canned versions are reviewed in the Beer Index).

Summery pleasantry, Hazy Day Belgian Wit, spliced softly-spiced lemony orange peel bittering with sugary crystal malts to its unmalted white wheat base, picking up a slight juniper boozing at its delicate citrus finish.

Since September’s right around the corner, Letourneau brought out busy fall seasonal, Fest, to close out my initial visit. Its autumnal foliage and leafy Noble hops set the stage for orange-oiled apple-peach-pumpkin fruiting, caramel-roasted Vienna malting and honeyed tea sedation.

 

www.greysailbrewing.com