The Narragansett Brewery Tour: Part Two, Chapter Two

The Tap - Brewery Fresh Beer By. Guy Lister John would invite everyone to come up to the bar to get a nice cold, "Brewery...

The Tap - Brewery Fresh Beer

By. Guy Lister

John would invite everyone to come up to the bar to get a nice cold, "Brewery Fresh" Narragansett out of the tap. The barrel was a fresh one each day and nobody ever had a better tasting beer than that! The beer was especially good after just having spent well over an hour walking through the Brewery. John would usually pour the drafts while I would man the souvenir stand where we sold T-shirts, hats, glasses, mugs, etc. Everyone always left with something. As he poured the beer, John would always be asking people where they were from. We had people from everywhere come through now, before John really worked his stuff, people were commenting on how this was the best brewery tour they’d been on. People would loosen up and relax pretty quickly which made for a very comfortable environment. Everyone got to know each other. John would slowly wind his way through the tables as he began to work the floor. He’d talk of his black Cadillac convertible, with license plate JE 1, for John English. He would sometimes mention his girlfriend, Patricia, who I never met. He’d talk about Atwells Ave. in Providence as the only house he’d ever lived in. He just opened up to people and they loved it. He was always smiling. As people would tell him stories, you’d hear John frequently say, "Oh boy", but he made it more like "Hoh boy"!

The he would take his place and stand center stage in the front of the room and in his big booming voice would say, as he started the wind-up of a baseball pitcher, "Now back in 1936-37, I was a pitcher for LaSalle Academy. I used to throw the ball so fast, the batters thought it was an aspirin!! They couldn’t even see it!’ This was the beginning of a story about a former brewery worker named Mike Mulligan. People always remember hearing the story. I’ll try my best to tell it to you.

" And I graduated from LaSalle that year. In those days, my father worked at the old Hanley Brewery and he got me a job. I worked in the bowels of the brewery in the "Racking Room’, where they filled the beer barrels. One day, the TV cameras cam to interview me and asked me what I did. I told them ’Oh, I’m the Head Cork Socker!’ and they said, ’Oh Jeez, you can’t say that on television!’ Anyway, after I worked at the brewery for a year, I ran for President of the Brewery Workers Union and I was elected. In those days we worked seven days a week. No such thing as a vacation. Well, when I was elected, I got us all a week’s vacation with pay and we were all highly elated about it! But we had a man in the brewery named Mike Muligan. He stood five feet ten and he weighed 265 lbs.. Mike Mulligan drank 90 10oz. glasses of beer every day of his life! He got to work an hour early, he had an hour for lunch and he’d stay an hour late. In 11 hrs, Mike Mulligan would 90 glasses of beer. Well, when Mike heard about the week’s vacation, he came down to my office and he pounded that big iron fist of his on my desk. He said, "John, you messed everything up!" I said, ’Mike, What’s amatter wit chew?’

Well, at 10 cents a glass, 90 glasses of beer was 9 dollars a day, times seven times days a week, was 63 dollars a week and we were only getting 57 dollars a weeks pay! He said, ’John, I can’t afford to go on vacation!!!’
It was like kicking the man in the belly, trying to give him a week’s vacation. So, I had to go in the front office and get special dispensation for MIIIIKE, that he be allowed to spend time in the brewery."

The John would reverently put his hands to his chest and look to the sky as he lowered his voice to barely a whisper to finish the story.

"Poor Mike died, six months ago, at the age of 89. He never tasted ice cream in his life. He classed it with arsenic!! So, the moral of the story, is you can drink all the beer you want throughout life. But be Goddamn of that ice cream. It’ll sneak up on ya,,, and it’ll kill ya!"

As I write this story, I find it somewhat ironic that I, an East Providence Townie, would ever bother to immortalize anybody from LaSalle Academy. In John’s case however, I’ll just have to make an exception. Speaking of LaSalle, I must also give thanks to my good friend, Bill Devereaux Jr., Esq., who spoke to his dad on my behalf before I ever even had net him. It was Bill Devereaux Sr. who helped me to land my job at the Brewery and both of them have been great friends to me ever since then. I owe them both more than I could ever repay.

Bill Devereaux Sr. had just been appointed Brand Manager for Narragansett Beer right around this time as I recall. John English and I both reported to the Consumer Relations Director of the Brewery, a great guy named Jim Nolan. Occasionally, Bill and Jim would sit in on the 1890 Room portion of the Tour because not everyone fully appreciated John’s sense of humor. Every so often, someone, usually a lady, would write to the Brewery after having been through the Tour. They would sometimes complain about John’s "spicy" stories which were sometimes laced with an extra dash of sexual innuendo. So just to keep john honest, Jim and Bill would sit in to listen for themselves. These visits would prove to be extra fun me because I could sense where John’s talks were headed. He actually has about three different "Talk packages" that he’d use. He would pull out pieces of each bag at different times depending on how he felt about each audience. Usually he’d guess right but not always and that was what got him into trouble sometimes. I had a ball trying to figure where he was headed at times. His delivery must’ve been a throwback to his old days as a pitcher at LaSalle! "What’s coming, a fast ball, a curve, a change up?" Nolan and Devereaux would cringe sometimes when they thought that John had gone over the line but they understood that his impish style was part of his charm. That was one big reason why the Tour was so popular. Our best advertising was word of mouth.

Check back next week as we continue the Narragansett Brewery 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.


nice post. thanks.

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You’re right John! He would recommend the boar’s bristle brush in order to keep your hair. Since John maintained a full head of grey hair, everyone bought into his suggestion! He just had that way about him!

Guy Lister

John would also say if you wanted to keep your hair, brush it with a boars bristle brush. Don’t use plastic. It’s not natural. Hardly knew the man, but loved him anyways.

John Cressy

nice post. thanks.

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