Local beer blogger says he may have found the local alternative to Pabst he has been looking for.
"I scored a 6-pack of tall-boy Narragansett lager courtesy of Mat over at Gansett. This is the second time in as many weeks that I have been sent beer to check out. I am not sure which mailing list I've managed to get on, but keep them coming! Was that shameless enough?
I was interested to check out Narragansett. I've been trying to focus on regional New England beers and Narragansett is certainly a local institution. To be honest, I'd so seldom had their beer before that I couldn't remember if I liked it. American adjunct lagers (the class of beer that Narragansett lager falls in to) tend to get a bum rap with craft-beer enthusiasts. Just take a look at Beer Advocates average rating in the style. Looks like your typical term grades from the frat house - all C's and D's.
I tend to be a Pabst man myself - when I do drink canned macro-lager, that is what you will find in my hand. This doesn't sit well with my mission to drink local, but I've been hard pressed to find an alternative. And there are really some circumstances and food choices that pair well with this, al-be-it often ostracized group.
If you are heading to a BBQ (clam bake, fishing trip, nascar event, tailgating party, summer event), and you think that it might not be appropriate to bring your kolsch(hefe, porter, rauchbier...), it is always good to have a stand-by waiting in the wings. American lagers are ubiquitous; They are the jeans of the beer world - sometimes it pays not to be overdressed.
Back to the important stuff - how was the Gansett? Let's take a look.
Serving type: Tall-boy cans
Appearance: Clean and clear pale golden color. An impressive two fingers of foam that fades in to some nice lacing. Well carbonated - but not nearly as carbonated as other macro-lagers.
Smell: Cereal grains with just a touch of hop spice. This is notable in that nearly no other macro-lager has any detectable level of hop aroma what-so-ever.
Taste: I was surprised by the amount of flavor in this beer. There is a graininess to the taste, but a nice bit of malt comes through. Just a bit of hop bitterness in the finish.
Mouthfeel - Lighter to medium body. A bit grainy. Finishes dry.
Drinkability: Very. Narragansett combines the uber-drinkability of a macro-lager with, dare I say, taste! How novel of them.
Over all grade: B/B-
I was really impressed with my Gansett experience. Overall, the beer packed a lot more flavor and a lot less graininess than I expected. I was so impressed with the big white head on my pour that I had my roommate pour a Bud next to it for comparison. The head on the Gansett was a lot fuller, even if it didn't last too long.
I may have found the local alternative to Pabst that I have been looking for. Gansett claims to a rich 125 year history in New England, which is mostly true... Gansett closed its doors for about 24 years, from 1981 - 2005, and they now contract brew though High Falls Brewing Company out of Rochester, NY
(The 9th Largest American Brewing Company). In fact,both their lager and light lager are produced in Rochester. This begs the question: Is Gansett still a New England beer?
Its a valid question. Given Narragansetts nearly 91 years of operating history in New England (minus Prohibition), its history of support for the Red Sox (during which they were mostly a loosing team), and the fact that they still brew their bock and porter in Rhode Island and Connecticut, I'd still welcome them as New Englanders.
High Falls Brewing Company also brews for another local Boston favorite, Sam Adams. If we are going to say that Gansett is not local as the result of New York based contract-brewing... well, that is a conversation for another day.
I'll definitely be picking up more Gansett in the future. Now if they would only start serving this at Fenway... :::UPDATE::: I've been corrected - Narragansett is available at Fenway."
You can read more Beantown Brews blogs at beantownbrews.blogspot.com.