Local documentarians expose ‘The Craft’ of Rhode Island’s craft brewers

Nearly two years ago, three siblings set out to document the booming craft beer industry in their home state of Rhode Island. Now their full-length documentary will soon premier on the silver screen.

In late June, Dave Ricci was joined on stage by his sister Beth and her fiancé Nick Charello as they screened a preview of The Craft: Rhode Island at the American Homebrew Association’s annual Homebrew Con. (Rounding out the Ricci clan is brother Chris, who wasn’t present for the screening.)

The documentary will make its world premiere at the Rhode Island International Film Festival on August 10, where it will be screened at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum from 2:30 – 4 p.m.

The group spoke with 10 of the Ocean State’s 28 breweries over the course of a year. As is the current state of the craft beer industry at large, there were almost a dozen new breweries operating in the state by the time filming wrapped up in March 2019.

“When we started this in August, there were about 18 [breweries] and by the end of filming there were 28,” Nick said.

There’s a sense of community and neighborliness that’s found across the state, and the brewing community is no different. Brewers are actively involved in their communities hosting events and working with their colleagues, whether collaborating on a new beer or lending supplies.

“All the brewers are friends with each other and try to work off one another and collaborate. I’m sure brewers elsewhere are friendly but it’s just not as intimate as it is here” said Dave.

But despite being such a small area, there is still a lot of unknown among the average Rhode Islander when it comes to the plethora of taprooms accessible within no more than quick 30 minute drive. Dave said that’s where this film really shines. It offers a look into a booming local industry that’s just waiting to be explored by everyone.

“We felt like this was almost like a gateway drug,” he said. “We’re trying to make this to expose to other people that this is happening here. This is for some hardcore craft people but this is more for saying “Look at what’s happening. You should check it out, too, and you’ll love it.”

“I look at it as part of the larger movement towards people wanting to support more local industry and consume more locally produced goods of all kinds,” Beth added.

The beer scene in Rhode Island, as well as across the rest of the country and internationally, continues to grow by the week. There’s a lot of great beer out there and the Ocean State is (slowly) making it easier for locals and visitors alike to get their hands on some quality golden suds. Showing more non-drinkers that this is an inviting community that generally doesn’t care that you’ve stuck to macro, domestic beers your entire life.

Walk into any taproom and the staff behind the bar will work with you to figure out what might be the best first step into trying something a little out of your comfort zone. If you like it, great! If not, no worries. One of the great things about beer is the beauty is in the eye of the beholder of the pint glass. There’s something out there for everyone, and it always tastes just that much more special when you know it’s been crafted by a local business.

“Hopefully this will expose more people to what’s going on,” Dave said. “Not just here but elsewhere, too.”

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