Across the United States, craft beer is experiencing a huge boom. In 2017, Rhode Island’s craft breweries produced enough craft beer for there to be one gallon of beer for every adult (21+) in the state. As I write this article, new breweries are popping up. Former New England Patriots player Dan Koppen opened East Greenwich’s first brewery, LineSider Brewing Co., in November, and restaurants are now starting to cater to the craft beer loving customers with extensive beer lists or brews made in-house. One restaurant that’s always paid attention to the craft beer scene is Wakefield’s Mews Tavern.
Mews Tavern opened in 1947 as a small pub for local fisherman. It was purchased in 1990 by Daniel Rubino and David Barnes, and through the years, the restaurant has grown and evolved. Today, there are three bars and a large dining room best known for the tree growing in it. For people who aren’t regulars, finding your way around the meandering rooms is a bit tricky. The main dining room is the only section that requires hostess seating – the rest is first come, first served. On a Saturday night, if you want to avoid a wait, get there early.
Mews takes its beer seriously, boasting 69 beers on tap. In fact, their motto is “No crap on tap,” and, depending on your definition of lackluster beer selections, this is a true statement. In the interest of good journalism, I counted exactly how many beers they had on tap, and found that it was actually 71 if you include ciders. In total, they had 11 local Rhode Island beers – among those on the “little Rhody” roster were Grey Sail’s popular Captain’s Daughter Double IPA, Ragged Island’s Coggeshall Ave. Pale Ale, and Shaidzon’s Ode to Aegir Saison. Beyond libations native to our Ocean State were some good finds including Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Sip of Sunshine, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout and Beer’d’s Dogs & Boats – to name a few.
The problem with having so many choices of beer is deciding which ones to order. Mews understands this problem and offers $10 flights. The flights allow you to sample four beers at a time, although ordering still felt like an undertaking. I went with the Ragged Island and Shaidzon, Hop Nosh IPA from Uinta Brewing, and Half-Stack IPA from SingleCut Beersmiths. After my flight, I settled on a Mozee IPA from Toppling Goliath Brewing in Iowa.
Even though their beer list is reason enough to go to the Mews, they offer food (wine and cocktails, too!) to soak up your alcohol intake. The menu is full of bar food and comfort food favorites; things that pair splendidly with the hoppy frothiness of beer. My friends and I split an order of Old Bay Fried Pickles, a platter of BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos, and a Buffalo Chicken Pizza. The fried pickles were our favorite. They were crispy, light, and extra delicious when dipped in the house-made ranch dressing. If you come with a crowd, the nachos are for you. The house fried corn chips were topped with enough pulled pork, cheddar-jack cheese, and jalapenos to feed the URI men’s basketball team. We ordered the “Anchor” pizza. The wood-fired crust was topped with baked chicken, bleu cheese, scallions, Buffalo sauce, and their house blend of cheeses.
Visiting Rhode Island’s craft breweries is one of my new hobbies. When you don’t have time to drive around to all of the individual breweries, restaurants like the Mews are stepping up to help. I’m never going to make it to Decorah, Iowa, to visit the Toppling Goliath Brewery, but since I tried it at the Mews, I will know to look for more of their brews.