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12 Breweries in 1,200 Square Miles: The Ultimate Rhode Island Road Trip

BY: Shannon Jewitt | Nov 2, 2015

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At just over 1,200 square miles—almost 200 of which are water—Rhode Island is by far the smallest of the United States. So, you might think there’s a dearth of notable Rhode Island breweries. Thrillist sure did. Just last year, they ranked all 50 states according to their beer. Rhode Island was No. 48.

But that was a huge oversight. The state actually boasts 14 different breweries—and we’ve put together a whirlwind road trip of a dozen of them. (We skipped one for being part of a larger New England chain, and another for being inconveniently located on an island. We’re sure they’re still lovely, though.) The best part? With proper planning—and a designated driver—this epic beer run can easily be traveled in one day.

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Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island

If these walls could talk: Before Grey Sail moved in and brewed its first batch of Flagship Cream Ale on 11/11/11, its nearly 100-year-old building housed the Westerly Macaroni Factory, a post office, and a NAPA Auto Parts store.  

What to drink: Captain’s Daughter Double IPA, Pour Judgement IPA, Great Ketch Imperial IPL

Tours? Yes; call to schedule

Proclamation Ale Company

Small space, big beer: Like its home state, Proclamation’s facility is tiny—1,650 square feet. But its offerings are far from small when it comes to flavor, particularly with several sours and a super hoppy IPA that will “punch you square in the teeth.”

What to drink: Derivative: Galaxy-Hopped Pale Ale, Kerraterra, Tendril India Pale Ale

Tours? No. You can pretty much see everything from the tasting room floor.

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Whaler’s Brewing Company

Bachelor’s in brewing: Drinking beer is often part of the college experience. The trio behind Whaler’s took that a step further, honing their brewing skills during school and in the military before setting up shop in their hometown.

What to drink: American Strong Ale, Hazelnut Stout, East Coast IPA

Tours? Yes; call for more information

Tilted Barn Brewery

Farm-to-pint: This brewery was literally born in a barn, a historic one situated on the state’s first commercial hop farm. Visitors get a true farm-to-pint experience, along with a tasty history lesson. (OK, so the barn’s not actually tilted, but it may appear that way after a few brews.)

What to drink: Pour Sap, First Harvest: Pale Ale, The Raffi

Tours? Yes; call to schedule

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Newport Storm Brewery

A perfect storm of spirits: The college buddies captaining Newport Storm have brewed their way through the entire alphabet with their Cyclone series. Their creative energies spilled over to sister business Newport Distilling Co., which produces the barrel-aged Thomas Tew Rum.

What to drink: Rhode Island Blueberry Beer, Rye of the Storm, Sourpuss, Thomas Tew Rum

Tours? Yes

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Brutopia Brewery and Kitchen

East meets South: If you’re craving beers and barbecue, look no further than this Cranston hot spot. We’d visit just for brewmaster Sean Larkin’s collection of Brutopia and Revival beers, but would stick around for the Memphis–style meats smoked onsite.

What to drink: Revival Double Black IPA, Revival Burnsider Pale Ale, Brutopia Conga

Tours? Yes; call to schedule

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Trinity Brewhouse

Providence patriotism: Opened in 1995, the state’s largest brewery is a relative young’un compared to the neighboring Providence Public Library and Veterans Memorial Auditorium. But what the brewhouse lacks in history, it makes up for in pride, amassing several dozen honors for its craft beers.

What to drink: Redrum, Decadence, Wolf’s Breath Winter Warmer

Tours? No

Narragansett Beer

Oh, the places you’ll go!: As one of the country’s oldest breweries, Narragansett has made its mark on pop culture. Aside from its more than 30-year run as the official beer of the Red Sox, the brewery hired Dr. Seuss as its illustrator in 1934 and made an appearance in the film Jaws.

What to drink: Lager, Summer Ale, Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout

Tours? No

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Bucket Brewery

Hoppily ever after: Once upon a time, Bucket Brewery owners Nate and Erik were just trying to make enough beer for Nate’s wedding. But they fell in love with homebrewing, eventually producing so much beer that they’re now living happily ever after as master brewers.

What to drink: Park Loop Porter, Bucket India Pale Ale, Sabin Maple Stout

Tours? Yes

Foolproof Brewing Company

“Experience-based brewing”: This is the concept behind Foolproof’s lineup of beers—the Backyahd IPA should be clutched while presiding over the grill; Shuckolate’s sweet, creamy flavor is perfect for date night; and Raincloud Robust Porter is best saved for rainy days.

What to drink: La Ferme Urbaine, Revery Russian Imperial Stout, Raincloud Robust Porter

Tours? Yes

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Crooked Current Brewery

Beer with a sense of humor: The political landscape of Rhode Island is anything but straight and narrow, and Crooked Current Brewery knows it. Its name is a nod to the state’s reputation for political corruption, as is The Crook, the mascot that earned the brewery an award for Best Sense of Humor from Providence Monthly.

What to drink: Immortality, Strawberry Blonde Ale, Kickback

Tours? Yes; call to schedule

Ravenous Brewing Co.

True artisan ales: Conclude your road trip where it all began for the R.I. beer scene—at the state’s first brewery. Ravenous only produces a few thousand gallons of beer annually, but they’re carefully handcrafted with equipment that commands intense physical labor.

What to drink: Thundermist, Coffee Milk Stout, Black Harvest

Tours? Yes

Top image: The Old Fishing Pier by Will G via CC by 2.0; inline images courtesy of Proclamation Ale Company and Tilted Barn Brewery

Want to see more of the nation's breweries? Hit the road with these itineraries:

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