In the five years since we got ’Gansett back, I’ve had the priviledge of listening to thousands of people’s stories of their relationship with the beer, both past and present. Stories of Curt Gowdy, GIQ’s, Irene Hennessey, and enjoying ’Gansett again for the first time. But one story that remained untold was the decline of the brand. We could piece the story together based on certain events, but I hadn’t met anyone who could tell the story from within the industry, someone who was really there. That is until last week, when I met a man who for the last forty years has been selling Budweiser, the brand that took ’Gansett’s place as the leader. Here is a bit of that conversation:
"First, you have to realize that New England was probably the last part of the country that Anheuser Busch attacked and in the 1960’s they decided that they were going to go all out, with lot’s of money. Narry was obviously the brand that they were going after because Narry was huge, I mean they were #1, but they were also vulnerable because they had just been bought by Falstaff, and those guys didn’t know what to do. A-B built a new brewery in Merrimack, NH in 1970, I think, and that was a big deal. At the same time they started going around buying up placements and sponsorships, and it was all supported by a big national media capaign. Schlitz was also very aggressive, they were the number 1 beer in the country. The biggest blow came in the mid 70’s when they paid a huge amount of money to take the Red Sox sponsorship from Narragansett, kind of like what they just did with the NFL sponsorship. Then it just started to snowball, you know, they closed the brewery in 1983 and that was it. It was over for Narry."
Well, not really my friend. Thanks for drinking you part and bringing back ’Gansett!