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Coddington & Hyannisport

October, 2000

By Bobby Bush

Fleeing religious persecution in England, William Coddington escaped to Massachusetts in 1630. Nine years later, he purchased Aquidneck Island from the Narragansett Indians and founded Newport, Rhode Island. And in 1995, long after Governor Coddington’s death, a Newport brewpub was established in his honor.

Located on the northwestern outskirts of this trendy coastal town, Coddington Brewing Company is Newport County’s first and only brewpub. This friendly facility is both a neighborhood pub and tourist attraction (other than the Tennis Hall of Fame and scores of ancient mansions, there’s not a lot to do in Newport once the weather turns cool). Traipsing through the cozy dining area, complete with overlooking brewhouse, past two occupied pool tables, we found a couple of stools at the short end of this L-shaped, black marble-topped bar. Perusing the menu for munchies while the bartendress fetched our taster tray, we found an extensive appetizer list as well a number of appealing entrees along with an Oktoberfest menu boasting steamed knockwurst, bratwurst and German Chocolate Cake.

Served in seven ounce glasses, brewer Marshall Righter’s beers were as interesting as the menu. On this occasion he had six on tap, three of which were seasonal selections. Of the always-on-tap bunch, Golden Ale was light, pils-like and crystal gold in color. Cascade hops exuded in the deep golden IPA’s flavor and aroma. A touch of Magnum hops gave this delicious brew its bitter profile. The stout selection was Irish Stout this time. This nitrogenized, red-tinged black ale, topped with a long lasting brown head, wafted coffee aroma and presented an acrid dry finish which faded into a rounded bitter aftertaste.

Back to the seasonals, Blueberry Blonde was sour in berry-ness and similar in body to Golden. Medium bodied and copper hued, Alt proffered a bitter flavor mid-swallow and was actually closer to an English Pale than German Alt. From either perspective, it was very drinkable. Unusual in its fruity body and taste, Oktoberfest was indeed a lager, a smooth one at that. Brewer Righter, a Siebel grad, works with a seven barrel brewhouse, utilizing four fermenters. It was obvious that his schooling was being put to good use. Website: www.newport-brewery.com.

Time to move on. We’d visited three-fourths of Rhode Island’s brewpubs, missing only Mohegan Cafe & Brewery on Block Island, accessible only by ferry.

The next afternoon - a mid-autumn Friday - we headed, along with thousands of other eager people, to Cape Cod. Fighting a massive construction-related traffic jam, we finally arrived in Hyannis and quickly located Hyannisport Brewing Company. Greeted by the front door brewery and entryway admonition: “Ask not what your brew can do for you but what you would do for a real Brew!,” we waited while a table for seven was prepared. The bar was full on this steamy weekend night. Smoke and flickering television gray penetrated the noisy dinge of the dining room. This place had potential, at least that was the initial feel. But only the beer would tell the truth.

Hyannisport’s six beers were served on a flounder shaped tray. Cute, but that’s not what real brew is about. Time for the tasting. Hyport Light was the requisite light beer, albeit this low hopped beer had a hint of chlorine (detergent?). Luckily that obtrusive sensation was found nowhere else. Sweet with only a hint of its locally grown berry-ness, Cranberry Ale had a snappy tart finish. Oktoberfest was an appropriately malty lager, while Cape Cod Amber Ale aped the Oktoberfest only a little darker and heavier in mouthfeel. Sharkstooth IPA had that grapefruit Cascade hops effect and was blessed with plenty of hoppiness throughout. A bit thinnish, Dry Irish Stout was chocolate meets harshness, caboosed with a berry (that again?) ending. A seventh sampler of a black and tan combination was also provided. This IPA atop Stout layered drink was probably the best of them all.

Cape Cod’s only microbrewery, Hyannisport Brewing was a fantastic seafood restaurant (try the Fisherman’s Platter) and an adequate brewery. Food complemented beer quite nicely. Try www.hyportbrew.com.

The story continues with Brew Moon.

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush

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