160. Newport Storm Wham! Bam! Van Damme

It’s crazy to see how far Rhode Island has come over the past few years in terms of local breweries and the support that these new start-ups are receiving. Pawtucket’s Crooked Current, in their first few months open, were voted Best Brewery in Rhode Island in an online poll over at Bottles & Cans. Maybe it’s because that it wasn’t long ago when Rhode Island was the home of one production brewery and a smattering of brewpubs. You’ve come a long way, baby.

With that said, you’ve really got to give the crew at Newport Storm some credit. Before the start of this voracious locavore movement, they were pushing out innovative beers, not because the market was crying out for Belgian pale ales or Double IPA’s, because it wasn’t; those beers were virtually unheard of in New England. They were doing it because they loved brewing, loved the experimentation it included (these are a bunch of science geeks, mind you), and they enjoyed giving their small group of supporters a treat every now and then. Not saying that every offering from them has been a success – there have been a lot of hits and misses over the years, but they took that chance. Take a look at their Cyclone Series for example (retired) – 6-packs of limited release, unique offerings – an Autocrat milk stout before Narragansett, bocks, Belgians, scotch ales and sours, all while most people were still suckling on the BMC teat.
With some of Storm’s latest offerings, it looks like they’re going back to those days of brewing for fun, just to experiment and learn – it just so happens that styles like Belgian Pale Ales are increasingly popular now. Their innovation has finally caught up with market trends. The Cyclone Series is gone, but in its place is a new batch of limited-release brews and in this case, Newport Storm’s first 4-pack.

The brewing team at Newport Storm are a bunch of movie geeks. If you haven’t noticed this already, check the bottom of any Newport Storm bottle cap and you’ll usually find a movie quote with the word “beer” swapped in so Wham! Bam! Van Damme comes at no surprise. This is an 8% Belgian Pale Ale in praise of all things scissor kicks.

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WBVD pours a radiant golden, with a thin white head that fades quickly; huge stonefruit aroma, with lots of apricot and caramelized sugars. Dry-hopped for two weeks with a blend of American, Australian and German hops, I was envisioning either the hops getting lost in the prominent Belgian yeast, or the opposite, the bitterness overpowering the spice. I was very wrong. The big yeast spiciness, specifically lots of black pepper notes, match up beautifully with the intense hop profile. The bitterness plays a big part of this beer, but is never overpowering, and is in perfect balance with the light caramel malts, vanilla-soaked fruit flavors and big citrus quality. Every flavor mingles very nicely, amidst a crisp, medium body with great carbonation.

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