SOUTH KINGSTOWN – With a high vaccination rate and new cases of COVID-19 significantly decreasing, Rhode Island is preparing for life beyond the pandemic, and one local brewery has pledged assistance in letting the good times roll. As the summer begins and the state starts to lift most restrictions put in place since the beginning of lockdowns and quarantines — including mask wearing, capacity maximums and social gathering limits — Whalers Brewing Company of South Kingstown is jumpstarting the celebration by donating a free keg of award-winning beer to every Rhode Island restaurant and bar.

“Bars and restaurants in our home state put us on the map, and with 2020 behind us, we figured what better way to say thank you and do our part than free beer,” said Whalers owners Josh Dunlap and Wes Staschke.

Announced on Tuesday, there are no strings attached to the donation event, according to the brewery. All restaurants and bars within the state have to do is ask their Whalers distributor for a free keg of Whalers’ Rise American Pale Ale (APA), a coveted brew that won “Best Pale Ale” at the World Beer Awards in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The beer has since gone on to become a local and national favorite.   

“We all just felt there hasn’t been a ton of good news over the past year, and this was a pretty cool and impactful thing we could do as a company to help reopen RI and say thank you at the same time,” Dunlap and Staschke added. “All we can say is that we’re confident just about every local business is happy to put 2020 firmly in the past. As far as doing our part, we’re lucky enough to make beer, which is usually a pretty important part of getting the party started.”

Whalers’ Rise APA, with an alcohol-by-volume of 5.5 percent, has a citrus-y, smooth flavor with a “subtle” and “lingering” hop spice, according to the company’s website.

Though the brewery just recently announced the giveaway, it reported strong feedback from the state’s restaurants and bars, noting that the feeling is mutual.  

“It’s been great, super positive and pretty much exactly what we hoped it would be,” said Dunlap and Staschke. “We love Rhode Island and its nice to be loved back.”

Last week, Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee announced many of the state’s pandemic-related restrictions would be lifted May 21. On Tuesday, fully vaccinated people in Rhode Island could begin taking off masks at most indoor locations, unless otherwise stated.

Founded in 2011, Whalers Brewing Company brews, cans and kegs all of its offerings on site at its facility in the historic Palisades Mill at 1174 Kingstown Road in Peace Dale. 

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