Belgian brewer sips up Budweiser

Meghan notes the unlikely pairing of Budweiser's red, white and blue birthright and its purchase by Belgian brewing giant InBev.

This probably won't make much difference to the archteypal frat boys who pledge allegiance to cheap stuff and Code Blue. And considering how InBev has a clutch of holdings, who among us hasn't enjoyed a few Bass Ales and Hoegaardens?

The consolidation of beer has been going on for a long time. As I wrote a few years back in a feature on Narragansett Beer,

If a worker spotted someone drinking a Heineken in the bar at the [Narragansett] brewery, according to an account published in American Breweriana Journal, he would ask, "Why would you want to keep someone working in Holland instead of the people in your own neighborhood?"

If this idealized state — which crested in the early 1960s, when Narragansett set a company record by selling more than one million barrels of beer — sounded too good to last, it was. Changes in management, the growing dominance of big national brewers, the opportunity for ownership to cash in, and the subsequent idling of the Cranston brewery steadily diminished the Narragansett brand, relegating the beer to a pasture of archaic zombie brews like Schaefer and National Bohemian Beer — still available, although in a forlorn state, with a shrinking customer base of aging gray hairs and, perhaps, a scattering of ironic hipsters.

Yet a local beer resurgence has also been developing for some time, featuring such Ocean State entries as Narragansett, Newport Storm, and Trinity IPA. And if you want something different, it's a lot easier to find it than in the past, as I wrote earlier this year.

The existence of Nikki’s, which bills itself as having Rhode Island’s most extensive beer selection, isn’t surprising; America’s craft beer movement has continued to advance, with some periodic shakeouts, since Boston-based Sam Adams spearheaded a resurgence in the 1980s.
What is unusual — and pretty cool for beer drinkers — is how a growing number of these brews are finding their way into stores that once had a far more limited selection, heavy on the major domestics, a few imports, and a smidgen of less mainstream stuff.
Countryside Liquors, located on Armistice Boulevard in Pawtucket, is a prime example. Although the shop has been a liquor store for about 50 years, it wasn’t known for a broad variety of beer. Christopher Jacobs started to diversify after buying the place four years ago, offering occasional tastings, and he says his customers have responded favorably. “It’s definitely growing,” says Jacobs, who sees the trend as a generational thing. “We consistently keep adding more beers.”

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