This Week In Narragansett Beer History: The Birth Of The Narragansett Draught Tap Sign

Well, Friday afternoon is upon us once again. I don’t know about you guys, but after another long week at work, I’m pretty much ready...

This Week In Narragansett Beer History: The Birth Of The Narragansett Draught Tap Sign

Well, Friday afternoon is upon us once again. I don’t know about you guys, but after another long week at work, I’m pretty much ready for a nice cold brew by the time 5 O’Clock rolls around.

Around our house, Friday nights usually start with the ritual of my lovely wife, Karen, waiting for me with reckless anticipation to return home from work. Mind you this isn’t because she has stars in her eyes and has been dying to see me all day long. It’s just a simple fact that after a long week of cooking and cleaning up after our family, she’s dying to get out of the house and have someone wait on her for a change. To be perfectly honest, I really can’t blame her. Besides, going out on the town isn’t the worse thing in the world. It has it’s perks...perks that come straight from the tap! Oh yeah, there’s that spending time with family thing and a tasty meal at one of our great Ocean State eateries, but honestly, who goes out to restaurants for the food?

By now, you thirsty Narragansett drinkers out there are all familiar with that little ritual you do when walking into an unfamiliar restaurant or pub. Without your friends or family paying much attention to you, the first thing you do is casually slip away after making some lame excuse to leave and scope out the draught selections they have at the bar. Admit it, you do it (or am I the only one?). If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter that beautiful red and white beacon behind the bar that can mean only one thing. In a matter of minutes you’ll be enjoying the crisp flavor of "New England’s Character and Taste" with your meal!

But let’s take a step back in time for a second. A time before the internet and this wonderful blog when ’Gansett drinkers weren’t as lucky as we are today. Let’s step back to a time before cable, a time before television. Heck, let’s go back to the days before penicillin and the 18th ammendment to the Constitution of the United States. Let’s go all the way back to a time when our brave men in uniform were being sent overseas to stop the Kaiser from taking over Europe. Let’s go back to the year 1917.

Many of you "Gansett draught drinkers may be asking by now, "Why 1917?".

Well, based on our "extensive" clinical research, before that time, Narragansett products simply weren’t marked on draught stanchions. When you ordered a "beer" back then, that’s what you got - a "beer". You really had no idea what you were getting unless you had the foresight to ask for something specific (and guessed right if they had it).

In 1917, the Narragansett Brewing Company sought to right this wrong. That year, they came out with their "Point to the Tap" campaign. This campaign was advertised in the Providence Evening Tribune and specifically requested the public to ask for Narragansett Ale, Lager, or Porter when ordering a "beer" at their favorite watering hole. That way, customers were assured of receiving a tasty, locally brewed, ’Gansett product rather than some beer shipped all the way from St. Louis.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Mark is asking you to do the same thing right now. After reading this, go out and request a ’Gansett at your favorite watering hole and help support the cause to bring back the Narragansett Brewery back to New England! If you can’t get out for long, go to your local packy and pick up a case!

Well, that’s about it for this week’s history lesson on the birth of Narragansett Draught Tap Signs. I hope you found it interesting and remember, always enjoy Narragansett responsibly. I better get going, Karen keeps giving me the hairy eyeball to shut the computer down so we can get the heck out of here.


Greg can be reached at

Photo Narrations:

Picture 1.

"Point To The Tap" Advertisement. Providence Evening Tribune. Friday, August 31 1917. For only a nickel, a patron could order a Narragansett Lager, Ale, or Porter. By pointing to the tap, a patron was assured of receiving a ’Gansett product!


Picture 2.

Three original brass and porcelain "TAPS" as illustrated in these Newspaper advertisements. These were mounted on the bar in front of generic looking taps.


Picture 3.

Another 1917 advertisment from the Povidence Evening Tribune. August 2, 1917

Prior to 1917, barrels of beer were kept in the cellar of an establishment to keep the brew cool. Remember that these were the days prior to convenient electrical refridgeration on a large basis. Most homes still relied on the old "Ice Box" as a means of keeping their food cold at this time.


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