Depending on where you live, Narragansett is either a household name, or one you’ve never heard of. It’s a New England beer with a long and storied history in and around the Boston and Providence, Rhode Island, areas in particular. Once, it dominated those markets, almost monopolistically.
The brand has changed hands many times (as would be expected for a beer with a 125-year-old history), but since 2005, it’s been partly owned and run by a man named Mark Hellendrung. Hellendrung has helped raise the profile of the beer in new markets, entering New York, D.C., and parts of Florida, while still keeping the company’s heart in the northeast. Last year, "Gansett" cracked the nation’s top 50 brewers. Sales are up 30% this year, and Hellendrung is aiming to enter yet another market—beer-friendly Portland, Oregon—in October.
In its 125-year history, Narragansett seems to have been just about everywhere of note—their brand manager calls it the "Forrest Gump of beers" for its habit of cropping up among celebrities, artists, sports teams, and politicians of note. Click through the images up top for an illustrated history of a beer that’s may turn up at your local bar soon—if it isn’t there already.
[Image: Flickr user Patrick]