Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Famous Narragansett Beer

Look, I'm cooking dinner, so this is going to be quick. I did a story for...someone, can't remember right now -- American Brewer! That's it. Anyway, I did a pretty extensive sidebar on the revival of Narragansett. These guys are doing the revival of a retro brand better than anyone I know, and I told them so. I remember 'Gansett, just barely; it was way in the early days of my drinking, and they were already being brewed elsewhere.

Anyway, like I said, quick, cuz I gotta slice mushrooms. They sent me a sample sixer of 16 oz. cans of Narragansett Lager, canned in Rochester under their supervision. Whatever. I had it in the garage, and even though it's 66 outside right now, the garage is still nice and cool. And when I opened the door to get a dinner-making beer, that was the first thing I saw. Mmmm, cool can of lager? Mainstream, American, lager? Swill, yellow fizzy beer, pisswater, as so many of the geekerie say, so very very nicely?

Yeah. And it's tasting okay. Light, a hint of bitterness (I think they said it's about 15 BU), and some body, and an edginess to it that's feeling good as I hoist and slosh it. Retro? Yeah, the beer and me. I can drink some of these, or this one, anyway. Backsliding? Maybe. Hey, it's beer. It's a quick night. And right now, this is hitting me in a good place.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the consensus is that Gansett is about the best of the macro lagers out there. If I see it around, I'd probably give it a try on that reputation alone. And I wouldn't be out a lot of scratch if I didn't like it either.

Anonymous said...

I bought a case of this a few years ago when I was visiting friends in Mass. I looked up a liquor store that sold it on their website. Its a solid macro lager. I'd really love to try their bock and porter.

xeno said...

Never had it, but I definitely understand the feeling of "slumming it" with your brews. I like The Good Stuff too, but once in a while, it's just nice to crack open a cold Yuengling and chug it right down. (Or Gennesee...)

Brings back a lot of memories.

Loren said...

The Bock is 'effing spectacular. Loaded with Brown malt, my guess. Tastes like fresh oven baked caramel bread crust.

Or not...

JP said...

Hi neighbor! Those guys do a good job the retro gansett porter is quite good, similar to dundee porter. Also up for your consideration should be the new reading premium venture. Nothing wrong with those beers all you beer geeks need to lighten up and have a gansett, plus let's hear three cheers for an independent brewery!

Steven said...

Had 'Gansett in New England back in 1985 and then in '87 -- when I traveled more. As you said Lew, in my early days of discovering new beers -- and Robert B. Parker's P.I. Spenser always drank it, so why not?

But the nostalgia aspect brings me around to Leinenkugel & Point in this area -- regionals, as 'Gansett was, always seem to carry a little more romance than the big boys, maybe that's why we can rarely talk bad about 'em.

Lew Bryson said...

I do want to get hold of some of the Porter, because that's actually the one I had way back when -- and carried around the plastic crate for quite a few years of packing and moving, too. I did mention Reading in the piece as well; still waiting to see how well it does, but everyone I've served it to has enjoyed it. I buy it by the case for my mom.

Have you noticed that Spenser's drinking more mudane these days? And no Harpoon, which surprises me. Okay, it disappoints me.

Jacob Ruppert said...

Agreed, gansett is good, particularly the porter. However, your socks will REALLY be knocked off when my knickbocker comes back!

Lew Bryson said...

Seen Through A Glass, folks: the blog where dead brewers come to life!

Peter Ballentine said...

Hey Hey Lew, old brewers never really die!

Robin Hood said...

Lew I hope you wouldn't wait around so long to try my cream ale. Or go into it with such indifference.

Hear ye men of adventure!

Lew Bryson said...

Who left the cemetery gate open?

Steven said...

"Have you noticed that Spenser's drinking more mundane these days?"

Yeah, I have -- I don't know if it's a reflection of Parker slowing down or something else.

There's a new novel of "early Spenser days" due out this year, something that tells a story of his younger days growing up -- maybe the beer love will be resurrected? Then again, I wonder what may have been available in Montana or Wyoming in the late '40s?

Nickolas Kessler said...

Steven, Glad you asked. The 40's were good years here in montana. My beer, Kessler's in Helena was a local favorite. Over in missoula they had highlander pale beer and up in great falls the great falls select was a big favorite and even outlasted my beer. Of course in anaconda they made that rocky mountain beer which was quite good as well.

As for wyoming, why, those cowboys didnt know much about brewing beer, that's for sure.

Bill said...

I can attest that if you approach regionals without nostalgia, you realize that many are pretty good. I love Point Special, and not being a native Midwesterner, didn't have preconceptions about it.

Regarding the Spenser novels: I wonder if Parker wants to make sure that a) the beers mentioned these days are available nationwide (so, no Harpoon), and b) he's sure the beers won't disappear. I seem to remember Spenser being a fan of Catamount for a few books, and, well...

My Gansett nostalgia involved the bottle caps -- they had a rebus puzzle on the liner. Ballantine still does, and I think for a bit they were brewed at the same place back in the day.

akahn said...

Funny enough, the local liquor store is doing a tasting of Naragensett on valentine's day! http://liquors44.com/news_items/310

JP said...

support the regional brewery nearest you, all sentimentality aside, they often offer tremendous value which is usually overlooked by the current crop of critics and beer experts. (present company not included)

Steven said...

Bill -- Point has gone through a few changes over the years, it's definitely come to be a better brew as of late.

As to Parker trying to keep national, I doubt that, doesn't seem his style. Just as we point out Spenser's picks are mundane, I'll point out that there have been a few recent books where he drinks no beer at all.

Oh, and in the most recent novel he actually gives in to have a Heineken because it's the only thing available!

Nickolas -- Thanks for the list, we'll have to see if they show up in the new book.

William B. "Stoney" Jones said...

Well, Lew. you know how rock 'n' roll heaven has Jimi and Janis and the like, we're having a hard time keeping it tight up here, and sometimes, you just gotta let it loose. Great brewers deserve some sort of forum, and you gave us all the perfect opportunity. We're grateful for it, too.

Lots of good regional beer up here, which we know you're appreciative of. Just wish you could find more of our beers back on the planet, sort of like the new 'gansett.

I hope the Yough is still as beautiful as ever...

JessKidden said...

Hey, Lew, I was asking about 'Gansett over on BA - but it's getting increasingly difficult to have "conversations" over there- most threads have become just lists of "What's everyone's favorite IPA in a bomber, with over 50 IBU's from a state that starts with a vowel?".

Anyway, I noted in one article when the Nantucket Nectar guy first got the brand name, that's it wasn't a purchase, but just a 5 year license- with the option to buy it only IF they meet certain sales figures. http://tinyurl.com/bd7jqx
Got any insight into that situation?

I'd sure hate to see the "Pabst" gang wind up with the brand again, after the "new" Narrangasett guys did the work. At least, Pabst is finally trying something ("new" Old Style, Schlitz) but until they do right by the Ballantine ales, I'll still be the kook in the beer section of the internet saying bad things about them.

I didn't know the Narragansett Porter came in those plastic 12 back baskets, too. I still have mine (a couple Falstaff ones, too). I never was a "US light lager" drinker, so never had much 'Gansett but the Cranston brewery was also home to Croft Ale and Pickwick Ale (stablemates of Ballantine XXX and IPA) in 16 oz. returnables so the place was one of my first loves.

(PS to Steve- If you had the Narragansett of the mid-1980's, it was actually closer to being your "Neighbor" [as their ad campaign used to proclaim] since Falstaff closed the RI brewery in 1981-2, and move production to Ft. Wayne in Indiana. The local NE folks claim that's when it went "bad"- I have my doubts...)

Anonymous said...

Good to see a thread about my favorite "new" beer. I started drinking Gansett only a few months ago. Smooth, drinkable session beer. Pleasant switch from Bud Light. I agree with prior comments on the Porter too. Good stuff.

Starting to see Gansett in a lot more bars/restos in Boston metro. Recently had it at The Place, Jose McIntyres, The Greatest Bar, Fours and even at the British Beer Company in the suburbs!

Thanks Neighbor!

justin lewis said...

I'm drinking some of the Narragansett Porter right now and it is delicious.

ri red said...

Who remembers the Narraganstt Bock Beer Festival's at the brewery in Cranston R.I. in Oct. They would give out free tickets for the beer. It would be modeled after the Octoberfest. A lot of fun but like everything else fighting & rowdyness caused it to end.