Friday, June 7, 2013

First Newport Storm, check!

There are a few things I have always liked about coming home to Aquidneck Island from the busy city of Philadelphia where I go to school. First, relaxing and spending the day in the sun with high school friends, and second, everything about Newport from the restaurants to just walking around and people watching.
However, when I got home for the summer this year something was very different. Nothing about the place or the people had changed, but there was something exciting about to happen to me. I was days away from turning 21. With all my preconceived notions about what it would be like to reach this monumental age, I was sure that everything I liked about being home on the island was about to get even more fun.
There I was sitting at the bar of O’Brian’s with my oldest friend on the Sunday night of my 21st birthday, ready to order my first drink. Knowing I was a few days away from starting my summer internship with Newport Storm I figured there was only one thing I could order at that very moment. A draft of Newport Storm Amber Ale. The most Newport-y of drinks in one of the most Newport-y of bars. Just like that I was hooked and Newport Storm had their newest customer and most excited new intern.
With a few days perspective and my internship kicked off I couldn’t be happier about how my summer, my 21st birthday, and my internship all began at the same time at such a notable Newport location, in such a memorable way.
Cheers to being 21+ in Newport,

Alisa, intern

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beer and Food. What's Not to Love?

Here at Newport Storm, we love partnering with local establishments to bring social events to the public and showcase what our company is all about. Another great opportunity has risen in the 2013 Winterfest beer dinner held tonight at The Brick Alley Pub, one of the many famed Thames Street establishments, where a variety of our beers will be paired with a specially crafted menu. In honor of this event, I thought I would give a few tips and tricks on how to pair your favorite brew with the dinner specials at your weekly hangout or with what’s cooking in your own kitchen. First off, let’s see what's brewing for tonight’s event.
                Three courses will be featured with our very own Newport Storm Rhode Island Blueberry, India Point Ale, and Cyclone Vlad Russian Imperial Stout, finished with some Hot Buttered Thomas Tew rum and a desert. Everything from a Wheatberry salad washed down with our fruity version of Kolsch ale, to brie and chutney sliders alongside an India Point, to coffee crusted pork tenderloin with all the trimmings and a Vlad will be placed in between your fork and knife. Even chocolate covered bacon (yes, I said bacon) will be served. Each menu item has been expertly crafted to pair perfectly with each chosen brew.
                Now I'm sure you’re wondering how to become your own personal guru on beer and food pairings. It’s all about synergy, and best matching beer flavors to food flavors is the way to go. Although, if you’re a bit spontaneous, you can always try best to contrast flavors and see what whacky combinations arise. Craft beers like stout and porters have richer notes from the malt and go well with chocolate desserts or even your summer barbeque. Spicy and exotic foods are best paired with beers with a kick, such as a hoppy Pale Ale (like our very own India Point Ale for instance!). Beers higher in yeast such as Hefeweizens go great with a lighter fare such as chicken, salads, or seafood. We know you like to get carried away on your own excursions of trying daring new brews and all of your childhood dreams of becoming a mad scientist can come true by creating endless combinations, but keeping it simple and listening to your taste buds is really all it takes to become the culinary expert of food and libations you’ve always dreamed of (and one your friends are jealous of, too!)

Cheers from the Intern,

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Great Ideas

I’m not sure if it is because I am closing in on 15 years in the business or the current explosion of activity in it, but I’ve had several people strike up conversations with me about “great ideas”. Most of these have been in reference to various products and inevitably I’m asked to give my opinion about each of them. In the past I’ve been happy to put in my two cents and analyze why I think a new or existing beer or spirit is a “great” or “terrible” idea. I’d reference the past, current trends, a similar product, or even the experience of the people executing on it. However, recently my approach to this stuff has changed.
When these types of questions are posed to me now, my response has turned from one of thoughtful engagement, to simply “I’ve stopped trying to pick winners and losers”. It is still interesting to me what is successful and what isn’t, but predicting it with any certainty seems oddly difficult. I don’t recall anyone shouting from the rooftops that $30/bottle vodka was going to blow up and “ice” beer was going to all but disappear (Monday morning quarterbacks can now start pontificating about the reasons we all should have foreseen these outcomes) .
As for now, there are bunches of new spirits and beers hitting the shelves each day. The last year has seen the emergence of a half a dozen new packaging breweries in RI alone. Each brewer and distiller has their own unique approach to the business and none of them would be doing it if they didn’t think their ideas were great. You’ll continue to hear about the winners (which we may be one). You may never hear of the losers (which we may, also, be one). For my part, when we develop something new I rarely worry about whether it will be the best selling thing we could make and find myself, instead, worrying more about making sure we are making it the best we can and doing our best to let others know why we made it. As you may have guessed, I’ve stopped trying to predict how many others will actually agree with us about our “great idea”. Rest assured we think all of our ideas are great and fully understand that we’re the only ones that think that.

Monday, June 4, 2012

“A fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it's better to be thoroughly sure.”

Avid supporter and lover of Newport Storm, I am thrilled to be a part of this crazy energetic crew. Each day is a new adventure; watching Derek and Pete attempt to maintain their sanity on canning day, or squeezing my way through the refrigerator to get a keg of Summer Hefeweizen that can only be accessed by playing a shuffle game with all the other kegs in there. Nevertheless, I have quickly realized how this job completely changed my perspective on beer. Yes, I'll admit it; I used to be a light beer drinker! But hey, I'm still fairly new to the drinking world and have begun to open my horizons to the ever growing world of craft beers. Some I will carefully select and sample through my own will, others will get shoved in my face by an eager family member or friend saying, "Try it, it's delicious!” I smile and accept the pint because after all, it's a free drink. Now, however, I am beginning to appreciate the ingredients and TLC that constitute a well rounded craft beer; esters that denote aroma or hops that give off aroma and generally a bitter, even nut-like flavor. I guess you could say this job has turned me into a “sophisticated” beer drinker. I can still remember the times when had no regard for what I chose at the bar and would go for the lightest, cheapest beer. Now I am intrigued not only by the styles of beer like India pale ale or hefeweizen, I have a new found appreciation for its presentation and decoration.

I know people say never judge a book by its cover, but what about judging a beer by its tap handle? To be honest this has become another determining factor in my beer selection (after I order a Newport Storm beer...or two). What appeals to me is the design and craftsmanship behind the handle and how it reflects the brewery's brand and creativity, a way to aesthetically enjoy a well crafted beer. It definitely comes in handy when trying to yell across a crowded bar to the bartender to let him know what draft you want, “I’ll have the mohawk orange!!” I'm sure many of you are familiar with our easily recognizable cyclone handles at bars and restaurants throughout Newport and beyond that reflect our storm themed company. Now when I go out in downtown Newport I am constantly scoping out the bar counter to see where our tap handles are and what can be purchased in bottle form. Some are proudly and prominently displayed (i.e. Pour Judgment where just last night I spotted Cyclone Tim and Rhode Island Blueberry on tap, even bottles of Cyclone Quinn and Sabrina!). Then again, some tap handles and bottles are hidden in a corner or refrigerator under the bar. In my experience though, it never hurts to ask (and trust me I do!) If this new job has taught me anything so far it is don’t be afraid to branch out and try something outside your comfort level, especially when it comes to beer.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Distilling season ends

Last Sunday, Pete was polishing the still, coiling up hoses, and boxing up the last of the distilling pieces. It was the last day of distilling season. When I started up the still last October, my hope was that we could distill 50% more rum than the previous year and have it completed by the end of May when the cooling water gets warmer than ideal and all our fermentation tanks are necessary for our beer.

In order to accomplish this, we would have to run the still every day from start to finish (we did take Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day off). Of course, this didn't leave a lot of margin for error or breakdown. I would also need some help to get this done, so in late September Pete joined me in the distillery.

The next 8 months saw lots of long days, quite a bit of improvement in our techniques, and lots of attention to detail. We were able to experiment on some barrels (sometimes on purpose and sometimes not so on purpose). We discovered some new things about our rum that helped us become even more consistent. We even managed to find some more uses for our used barrels.

As of last Sunday, Pete and I had put down 122 barrels of Thomas Tew Single Barrel Rum (2 more than or goal). We finished 18 days earlier than we originally planned. We were both really glad to have a break from the relentless pace of the previous 8 months. Pete is now focusing on brewing and I'm getting back to focusing on all the activities we have planned for this summer. Pete, never one to miss a moment, brought us two well deserved beers last Sunday afternoon. It was a nice break before getting started on another relentless season. Unlike us, our rum will now rest and in 2 or 3 years we hope to be bottling up all our hard work.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rum keeps us warm...

Ladies and Gentlemen...  (And the special folks who were directed here from Constant Contact)

Today, we introduce our brand spankin new Ethanol Fireplace.  TA DAH!!!

When we distill our Thomas Tew Rum - one of the bi-products is ethanol.  Crafty as we are...we have started burning this free resource in our  Visitors Center to keep us warm and toasty.  It burns clean with no waste or fumes.  Perfectamundo!   Come visit and get warm and toasty!  


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cyclone Sabrina! Catch her if you can! the flurry of '11 press, the best beer that I've ever tasted in my entire life, was released.  No coincidence, it is named after one of the coolest chicks that ever toddled the earth, Brent and Claire's daughter Sabrina.

The beer is a Belgian Pale Ale -- a really need marriage of the European yeast's clove and spicy hints and good old fashioned American Pale Ale hops.  Here's a little video of the bottling day... you catch a brief glimpse of the woman herself at the end!

I would suggest you pick up your six pack before I drink it all.  

- Laura