This is a hard to find beer for most of you who will read
this. It’s not hard to find for me though. I know exactly where to find it:
in the Brewhouse in Providence, RI. Generally when I write a beer review I
do it at home in front of the computer, tapping away at the keys as I sip
and observe the beer. Having purchased a brand new laptop computer about a
year ago however, I now like to sit at the bars of my favorite
establishments in all my beer geek glory and regale you with the virtues of
their beers directly at the source.
This particular beer has been a favorite of mine since the place opened. It’s a signature beer here; you’ll always find it on. It varies slightly from batch to batch, but that’s part of the beauty of it. It’s always wonderfully hoppy, both in aroma and bitterness. It weighs in at 65 IBUs and 7 percent alcohol by volume, and is hopped with East Kent Goldings.
About a year ago, I wrote this:
As I type I have a 25-ounce mug before me, courtesy of my membership in the mug club here. I pay for a pint and get the mug. Life is good. The beer is hazy orange in color with a decent head formation and an herbal hoppy nose. There’s a firm malt backbone to this brew that provides a rich mouthfeel against which first the floral hoppiness and then the explosive hop bitterness that punctuates the beer are showcased. Phew. Took me longer to type that sentence than it did to drink the beer!
I like IPAs with spicy food, and so I ordered the jerk chicken breast sandwich to go along with it. The sandwich, literally overflowing from the bun, was in fact on the mild side to me (but then I’ve been known to drink hot sauce right from the bottle). It was spicy enough to grab my tongue’s attention though, and thus allowed me to enjoy the interaction between the jerk spice and the hop bitterness.
I would match this one up against the best of the IPAs I’ve sampled, a list including Diamond Knot, Hop Devil, Celebration, Impaled Ale, Burning River, Hop Ottin, and many others. If you don’t live near Providence, move.
OK, back to 2001. One of the unchanging truths of the beer world is that beers are rarely unchanging. New brewers come and go, they formulate new recipes or at the very least tweak them. Beer is a living thing. As such, it is incumbent upon the beer enthusiast to always keep a vigilant eye on his favorite brews.
If anything, Trinity’s India Pale Ale is better than ever. I enjoyed a 25-ounce mug this evening with a heaping plate of Buffalo wings (10 cents each on Mondays!). It’s at least the equal to any IPA I’ve ever sampled, and superior to many. The marriage of rich and hearty malt with citric and bitter hops is one made in heaven, and the wonderful bitterness lingers nicely on into the finish to remind you just how formidable a beer you’ve just enjoyed.
If you’re traveling to or through Rhode Island, Trinity is a must stop. Tell them Bruguru sent you.
Update: 3/31/2006 : It’s been many
years now since I moved from Rhode Island to Georgia. I’m often asked if I
miss New England, and of course I do. One of the things I miss most are the
wonderful area brewpubs I used to frequent, including my usual, Trinity
Brewhouse. For many years, Trinity was my regular Friday night haunt. I
loved the beer, the food, and the atmosphere, but just as important were the
friendly bartenders and patrons, always eager to engage in impromptu
Trinity is located in downtown Providence, within walking distance from the new mall that dominates this rejuvenated city. Once you enter through the ornate double doors, you’ll find yourself before the bar, with brewing equipment in full view through plate glass and exotic artwork overhead. You can pull up a stool at the bar if you choose; if it’s full there’s another downstairs. Tables are available by the windows if you like to people watch; during warm weather there’s an outdoor patio.
Trinity is a brewery, but it’s a restaurant, too, and a very good one. You can order a full range of dishes from appetizers to pub fare to full entrees. There’s always a beer on that will accompany your selection quite nicely. If you need advice, just ask Stu, Brandon, Bobby or any of the other friendly bar staff: they’re always happy to help.
One of my favorites has always been the RI IPA. Here's what Trinity says about it:
The first IPA available throughout Rhode Island since Ballantine IPA. The most bitter of the Pale Ale family, India Pale Ale has a malty flavor accented by fruity aromas, a dry bitter finish and bright copper color. Winner, 1997 & 1998 Great Northeastern Beer Festival, Pale Ale. Filtered - 65 I.B.U. East. Kent Goldings - 7% Alc.
This is Trinity’s flagship beer, and you’ll almost always find it on tap. It’s sometimes tweaked from batch to batch so expect it to be idiosyncratic, but you can depend on this: RI IPA will always be a wonderfully hoppy brew with a firm malt body. Plenty of hop aromatic character is pleasant along with a potent hop buzz in the finish. It's spicy, drinkable, delicious and one of the best beers made in Rhode Island.
Update June 12, 2009: Recently, I found myself in Rhode Island for a few weeks, and of course a stop in Providence would not be complete without hitting Trinity Brewhouse. As one might expect, it wasn't long before I had a pint of Rhode Island IPA in front of me, and I'm happy to report that this 65 IBU, 7% alcohol by volume treat was as good as ever. The firm, chewy caramel malt palate was balanced off wonderfully by the spicy, herbal hops, and the long dry bitter finish was the perfect match to my lunch of a plate of calamari in a spicy jalapeno cream sauce.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.