Men’s Journal’s Top 20 Imperial IPAs Includes One Brewed Right Here In Rhode Island

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A couple years back, we’d be happy to find top beers DISTRIBUTED in Rhode Island.

If you haven’t been in an establishment that sells alcohol in the last…oh, call it five years, there’s a thing called the “Craft Beer Revolution” that’s been going on, where all the beers you used to see on commercials 20 years ago are going by the wayside…and a thousands of new beers you’ve never heard of are taking over the market place.

Unfortunately for the craft beer newbie, this tectonic shift in the libation marketplace in a Byzantine labyrinth called “The Three Tier” system, where producers of alcohol, distributors of alcohol and retailers of alcohol are all operated independently(for the most part) on a state-by-state basis. If a beer isn’t distributed to your state, it’s not distributed to your state.

Which is kind of an odd characteristic for a good in this age of Amazon. There isn’t much out there in the world that is being manufactured (or, in this case, brewed) that you can’t just say “I want it, what’s the price?” and someone says “No, we won’t sell it to you because you’re in that state.” You don’t go to the Apple Store to order an iPhone 6 Plus 128gb in white and gold just to hear the Genius™ say, “Sorry, those aren’t distributed to Rhode Island.”

Until a couple years ago, Little Rhody was having a hard time of it in regards to craft beer selection. In 2011, we had breweries getting out of Rhode Island. Dogfish Head left us high and dry, as they responded to a spike in demand in the wake of the Brewmasters Reality TV show. Weyerbacher had the same issue. At least they came back.

The list of big, highly-rated breweries that were selling beers in Rhode Island and then, when they hit it big, pulled out to service other markets is actually pretty astounding. Avery, Great Divide, Hoppin’ Frog…are all available to the Rhode Island beer drinker…provided that they are willing to drive to Massachusetts to get them.

The number of breweries in the state was half of what it is now and most of the ones that did exist were just getting off the ground.

So 4 years ago, if you read any random article on the “Top 25 Beers Brewed In America”, you’d be lucky if four were actually being distributed in Rhode Island (though, as we’ve noted, you might find another two on the dusty back shelves of your neighborhood liquor store).

What really sucked is that there is the whole underground bottle-trading thing going, but no one wanted to trade with people in Rhode Island because we didn’t have any beers they wanted and couldn’t get.

Now it’s completely different. The distributors’ brewery portfolios have exploded. More importantly, the number of Rhode Island breweries has exploded, as have their quality.

Case in point…

Men’s Journal has a long history of publishing long lists of great beers that we can’t buy in Rhode Island.

Now, they’ve just posted “The 20 Best Imperial IPAs“, of which, true to previous form, three are currently distributed in Rhode Island…and two of those are basically available anywhere in the country.

The first is Lagunitas SUCKS, which is an interesting name for a beer with an interesting back story, from a brewery whose beers almost always have a long story behind them.

The second is Stone’s Enjoy By series, which they do every month…but only certain parts of the country get certain months, so RI is getting them in…probably 5-6 out of the 12.

But the last is a special one, because it’s brewed right here in-state (provided you consider Westerly part of Rhode Island):

Grey Sail Brewing of Rhode Island’s Captain’s Daughter

Captains Daughter can layout final revised 8-21

(and any time I have to type that whole thing out, I’m thinking ‘F*CK FULL SAIL’…but that’s a long back story)

Sure, Vermont has 3 beers on the list, two that I know aren’t even distributed throughout their whole state…but we finally have something the rest of the country wants…and can’t get (through normal, legal channels). So for those of you outside of Rhode Island…



For those of you in Rhode Island, be aware that just because a beer is distributed in a state, that doesn’t mean that it’s readily available everywhere in the state. That said, Bridge Liquors is a good place to start. Also, be sure to be on the lookout for the Captain’s Daughter’s single sibling, newly available at liquors stores state-wide…



-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Beer Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?