Union Station Brewery

Union Station logo

One of downtown Providence's most thirst quenching attractions today, Union Station Brewery offers that perfect place to catch a pint even if your not catching a train. Situated along the Waterplace Park and Riverwalk of the Woonasquatucket River, the brewpub is an easy walk from the downtown Civic Center, Convention Center, government offices, and public transportation systems such as busses and AMTRAK. Neon beer signs just above ground level offer the first signs of something different inside. A small outdoor patio area is open during warm weather and offers seclusion from surrounding downtown activities. Inside, a merchandise counter showcases the brewery paraphernalia available, with some items on display across the walls of the lounge area. A few tall wooden tables stand adjacent to an interior stone wall and accompanying flower pots. Ground level seating features a dozen dark wood tables and chairs surrounded by red brick walls and drop-down lights and fans from the 15 foot dark grey textured beamed ceiling. A long Mahogany bar offers a clear view of the nearby copper brew kettles and stainless steel tanks. Two chrome tap towers host eight long ebony tap handles, with the single handle of a beer engine along side. Smoking is allowed in most of the building and cigars are even sold behind the bar. The far left side of the room offers a raised non-smoking area decorated with framed black & white prints of the turn-of-the-century brewing scene. A large Naragansett Ale painting is especially unique. Toward the rear of the building three shiny serving vessels are visible in their coldroom, all labeled with incredibly large Surgeon General Warning notices.

The food menu is very popular with the downtown office crowd, where lunch entrees such as burgers, Fish & Chips and Spent Grain Pizza run $7 to $9. Appetizers range from $2 to $6 and include calimari, wings and homemade chili. Monthly "brewer's dinners" provide a special four-course meal for $35. At the light end of the beer spectrum, the Northern Lager Light comes in at 3.4% and is a clear light gold color with pronounced carbonation, a soft mouthfeel, mellow light hops-over-malt flavor in a light-bodied brew. The Golden Spike Ale, at 5.4%, is a clear amber color with a nice hop flavor where the underlying malt asserts itself before the hops reappear in the finish. Very nice! The IPA is a clear amber with a medium body, nice rich malty flavors, and a subdued hoppiness. The Cask-Conditioned IPA offers a very light body with its flavor balance hoppy and on target. This smooth brew is pulled from the keg via beer engine at room temperature and is "easy drinking." The Oktoberfest is a clear dark amber color with a rich, sweet malty flavor and dry finish. The hazy brown Dunkelweizen comes in at 5.1% with its distinctive sour/lactic character. The 5.2% Velvet Stout features a rich roasted aroma along with a light body, lasting lace, and slightly roasted flavor. The Cask-Conditioned Porter is also standard fare. A wooden sampler tray features seven four-ounce tastes for $6.

Open since 1993, Union Station is a member of the John Harvard family of brewpubs. The lack of mega beers and the silent TVs show that this establishment wants to stand out from the crowd, even among the downtown bars that offer import and micro beers. Framed local awards from media popularity polls such as the Best Of Rhode Island Competition highlight the business' achievements. Although the pervasive steps may look daunting at first, the facility is fully wheelchair accessible, seating 205, it offers something for everyone who appreciates quality beer.

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - September, 1999

Union Station Brewery
36 Exchange Terrace
Providence, Rhode Island

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