Local brewery pours products in Providence
Something local was brewing in Providence last weekend.
The 10th annual Rhode Island Brew Fest was held to a packed house at the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence on Saturday. The event was split into two three-hour sessions, during which guests could taste beers from more than 50 breweries in the region. Will Tuttle, co-owner of The General’s Crossing Brewhouse on Narragansett Avenue, was among the vendors. Although this is his third time at the festival, he said there are still people who don’t know of the existence of a brewery on the intimate island of Jamestown.
“There are always people who are surprised that we are here,” he said. “I can’t perform in front of enough people, even in Jamestown and North Kingstown.”
Tuttle first attended Brew Fest in 2018 under his label Conanicut Brewing, a supplies store operated in partnership with The General’s Crossing at the Bomes Theatre. He partnered with Tom McNiff to open the brewhouse in 2019 and they sold under the The General’s Crossing label in 2020 just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This year featured his two labels.
Tuttle said the festival has no competitive aspect. “This festival is all about getting everyone in front of as many Rhode Island breweries and local grocers as possible,” he said.
Along with three beer samples, Tuttle brought home brewing supplies from Conanicut Brewing to showcase to the homebrewers attending the event. In addition to the supply business and the brewery, he also represented the Rhode Island Fermentation Technicians, a club of home brewers. “Closing the RIFT between good homebrew and great homebrew,” the club was founded by six men in 2017 and has expanded for like-minded brewers “to share tips, award-winning recipes, and fun times.”
The three local beers Tuttle brought to the event were his signature Honey Hibiscus Joke, a Scottish Export and a British Best Bitter. The Wit is a Belgian wheat beer made with hibiscus flowers and local honey, the best bitter is a British pub ale and the Scottish export is a stronger, maltier ale.
“They were representative of the styles we do,” he said. “These are styles that no other brewery makes, at least not in Rhode Island.”
Visitors to Tuttle’s booth were able to taste the three beers through 2-ounce samples. He was planning on bringing a Lebkuchen Imperial stout instead of the best bitters, but they sold out before the festival. Of the three beers he brought, Tuttle said the honey-hibiscus joke was the most popular.
“It’s a very accessible style,” he said. “Women love it just as much as men do,” he said.
In addition to The General’s Crossing, dozens of other breweries attended the Rhode Island Brew Fest. These included Providence’s Narragansett Beer, Warwick’s Proclamation Ale Company, Middletown’s Rejects Beer Company, and South Kingstown’s Whalers Brewing Company. Out of state breweries such as Massachusetts’ Samuel Adams and Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery also presented their sparkling wines.
Along with putting smiles on the faces of beer lovers, Tuttle said the event was a networking opportunity to learn about the industry with fellow brewers.
“It’s always good to see what other breweries are up to and what trends are out there and what’s going to be hot this summer,” he said. “It’s good to meet people who have moved on to new or bigger and better opportunities. It’s really a great community.”
In addition to serving his recipes and networking with fellow brewers, Tuttle said he hopes his attendance at the event helped put Jamestown beer on the map.