Monday, August 13, 2012

Narragansett’s Move to Wisconsin

As was reported last week, Narragansett Brewery is now shipping its beers, both cans and draft, to Wisconsin in its first move away from the East Coast.  I was lucky enough to have a few questions answered by CEO Mark Hellendrung regarding the move into Wisconsin.  In case you are looking for a little background on the company, here is some info from the Facebook page: “Narragansett Beer is New England's oldest beer, founded in 1890. It was the #1 beer New England from 1919 through the 1970's and the official beer of the Red Sox for over 30 years. It's now the 50th largest brewing company in America and was winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2008 World Beer Cup and First Place at the Great International Beer Festival in 2010.” It also has a rather famous moment in Jaws.

One of the interesting things noted in the press release was that Mark has family history in Wisconsin, so adding that to the overall craft beer climate and it’s no surprise that Narragansett is choosing to expand into the state.  “I think beer drinkers today are looking to experience different beers more than ever.  The choice to start in Wisconsin was based on my personal affection for the state and the tremendous distributor partner we have in Beechwood,” Mark said, adding, “I know firsthand the great beer tradition in Wisconsin, probably greater than any state in the country, and I trust Wisconsinites will appreciate the great quality and tradition from our company.”

I had to ask him to briefly reflect on his experience in Wisconsin and it was clear that he had a lot of fond memories in southern Wisconsin and Madison. “My Mom's family is from Watertown and my Dad’s family is from Oconomowoc.  Both of them went to UW-Madison, as did my brother. Every summer we would drive there for two weeks of vacation.  My Grandpa Schmidt’s favorite beer was Blatz, and, when I was young, lunch was summer sausage, limburger cheese, and I’d split a Blatz with my Grandma Schmidt.  To be honest, growing up I was as much of a Brewers fan with Harvey's Wallbangers as I was a Red Sox fan. There aren't many big college football programs here in the east, so the Badgers are still the team I follow.”

So what can we expect from Narragansett? Mark tells me that the beer geeks will “respect the quality of our craft styles and then choose our lager because they're somewhat tired of the mega mainstream lagers.” In case you are wondering, Narragansett currently brews a Fest, Porter, Bock and Summer in addition to their lager, light and cream styles.

Narragansett has been undergoing rapid development in the last few years. Back in January, Brewbound reported that the brewery would be hopefully open by December, and, in an update on that progress, Mark tells me that they “hope to have a big announcement in the next month or so” regarding the brewery. “We've accomplished a lot of great things since we got the beer back seven years ago, and re-building the once-proud brewery will be the ultimate achievement on our comeback trail.”

Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to answer a few questions! Everyone out here is going to be looking for their chance to grab a 'Gansett.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Neighbor Have a Gansett. I have friends in Milwaukee and Darien and would urge them to check it out. I to was a fan of anything made at the Heileman Plant in LaCrosse when I lived in Illinois. Before the micro beer explosion Narragansett made Krueger Pilsener,Ballentine Brewers Gold, Pickwick Ale, Haffenreffer Private Stock Malt Liquor, and Narragansett Porter. I believe these could have held their own in the micro-market. All passed away while people swiled down Bud,Miller, Schlitz, Coors.

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