By Kam Spaulding
How does free beer for a full year sound? That excitement you feel was exactly what Narragansett Beer, and CEO Mark Hellendrung, were hoping for with their newest promotion. Gansett just brewed its one millionth case of lager and now the search to find it has gotten underway, with all the free brew going to the lucky "neighbor" that brings it home.
"You have been drinking your part and we have been making the beer." Hellendrung says. "We’ve done this together. So join me and celebrate this millionth case going back to New England."
The package store or bar that gets the millionth case will get in on the winning, too. The exact pride for the store that sells it receives a to-be-disclosed prize.
The case, which Hellendrung himself marked and signed, Shows just how far he and his investors have come since they bought the brand in 2005. The purchase of the business from the Pabst Brewing Co. and the return to the original recipe, with the help of brew master Bill Anderson, has helped the company climb back into the New England beer market. The return to the old recipe has gotten lots of attention locally and on the beer circuit, earning it a B- ranking from the Beer Advocate, bringing it in just behind New England favorite Samuel Adams.
You can track the lucky case on the Gansett website, where videos of the location of the case and updates on who has found it will be made weekly.
The year of free beer certainly won’t be the only prize for putting down that millionth case. Whoever buys it will also earn a plaque with their name placed on it in the long awaited new Rhode Island factory. Gansett hopes to find a location for the brewery by this fall and to have it built and opened by next summer.
"We are certainly targeting a 2011 brewery opening barring any unforeseen issues," PR Director Jim Crooks says. For the brew that once held the role of being the biggest seller in New England, the millionth case hitting a shelf somewhere in New England stands as yet another sign that Gansett is back. The New brewery will open, as a draft-only location to serve mainly local bars and venues, such as Fenway Park which welcomed Gansett’s return last season. Curt Gowdy would be proud.
"Right now, we brew the 16oz cans in Rochester, but you know we want to build the brewery again," Hellendrung Says.
If you are looking to celebrate the millionth case with the Gansett team, you’re in luck. On May 3, the gang will be at Doherty’s Irish Pub in Pawtucket with beer specials and the Gansett girls will be there to help you "take the pledge". The pledge was launched as a marketing campaign in 2009 and people pledge to drink cases of gansett in order to bring the famed New England brewery back to the region.
The stop at Doherty’s will be only on of many around New England to celebrate the 120th year for Narragansett Beer. The year long celebration comes to a pinnacle Dec 29 with a planned party right here in Rhode Island.