The Narragansett Brewery Tour: Part Two, Chapter One

The Bottling Shop and the GIQ By. Guy Lister After we left the canning Department we would head out once again into the Brewery Courtyard...

The Bottling Shop and the GIQ

By. Guy Lister

After we left the canning Department we would head out once again into the Brewery Courtyard back toward the statue of Gambrinus, the legendary King of Beer. Just next to Gambrinus was the entrance to the Bottling Shop which was our next stop. Once inside, we’d walk up a flight of stairs to a catwalk that gave the visitors a bird’s eye view of the entire bottling operation. Guests could witness several different bottling operations simultaneously. While one line might be bottling Narragansett 12oz Export bottles, another might be filling Narragansett’s famous Giant Imperial bottle made famous by the legendary Bill Considine, who guided the Brewery as its General Sales Manager during the glory days. In those days, the Brewery controlled well over 60 percent of the New England beer market. Also from this catwalk, people could get a view of the pasteurizing oven. There, the bottled and capped beer would travel through a heated sprinkling system that would bring the temperature of the beer up to 140 degrees which would kill any yeast that might be left from the fermentation process and not been caught during the filtration process. Our guests could see the bottles being scanned by several different electric eyes that were situated in different spots along the bottle line. They could see the shop workers remove bottles that had issues and know the ones that made it through were almost ready for consumption. Theses bottles now only needed to be labeled and packaged then shipped to wholesalers who would be shipping fresh Narragansett Lagers to retail locations throughout the New England region. As we would leave the Bottling shop we’d hear the metal rods in the bottle fillers as they tapped the insides of the bottle to agitate the beer, causing it to foam up and overflow the top which removed any air in the bottle and at that precise moment, the cap would be sealed.

Our last stop before heading back to the 1890 room was over to the loading dock and shipping platform. It was here that all of the now palletized beer was loaded onto the big rig trucks, ready to get t the wholesalers and be distributed and be distributed into the market place. We never stayed too long on the loading dock because this was a very hectic and somewhat dangerous area where everyone was in a hurry to load the trucks so that all the other trucks that were stacked up and waiting outside wouldn’t have to wait too long. Another reason we didn’t linger here was because by now, everyone’s feet were getting a little tired and people were really anxious by now to get back to the 1890 room to sample some ice cold, Brewery-Fresh Narragansett!!

Once we arrived back at the 1890 Room, people could get comfortable in upholstered arm chairs and really relaxed for the red carpet treatment. There were 4 chairs to a table and there were usually enough tables and chairs for everyone the Room had soft carpeting and the walls were a rich mahogany, very much befitting the Brewery’s character. It wasn’t a really large room, probably 40ft by 30ft but it held a fair number of people while allowing for an intimate setting.

As I begin to tell the story of an "1890 Room experience", I must share some words that were spoken one night at a Las Vegas night that was held for the Brewery family at the old casino at Rhodes on Pawtuxet. If I recall correctly, these words came from the man that was president of Falstaff Brewing Corporation, whose name escape me now but he addressed the group that evening, this man call the Beer Business a "very romancing business", and he went on to say that when ever anyone who is in the business mentions that they do for a living people always want to hear more about it. I have always remembered those words because back then in the 1970’s I knew they were true and now in 2001, after twenty-some years and Lord knows how many miles and sales calls later, I know they still are true. People love to hear stories about the Beer Business and John English, our Tour Director, was a master story teller. He fascinated people and he knew it, although he never said it to me, I’m sure that he was aware of that. A lot of the rest of the Brewery Tour was as much about John English as it was about the Brewery but people seemed willing and almost eager to learn more about this veteran of the "beer wars" as they learned more about the Brewery. I was only his young assistant on these tours but I was brand new in the business and I went to school on this man who was trying to groom me for a career in the Beer Business. Watching his audience taught me as mush as he did. I learned life-long lessons that served me well in my beer career in the "1890 Room".

Be sure to check back next week as we continue the tour.

This Story remains the intellectual property of Guy Lister and may not be printed, reprinted, edited, sold or published, conventionally, electronically, or by other means without the expressed written approval of Guy Lister. Copyright 2001.

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