I got a few emails from very nice people representing Narragansett over the fall asking if I would like some samples and, of course, I said yes. From Great American Beer, I learn that the brand was bought back from Pabst in 2003 by Mark Hellendrung, a local businessman. So, while I was not expecting that much from a regional brewer, it's nice to be nice. I say "sure" and let them know about the special customs declarations needing being made and waited. No beer. How's it going with the samples I asked and they said they are on the way. After a few weeks the lager showed up - a six! How civilized I thought as I popped a 16 oz can. Then I waited. "Where's the porter?" I emailed. "It didn't arrive" they responded? They sent another sample which showed up 23 December and, boy, was it worth the wait.
The lager says it is just that - lager. But it is made for the Narragansett Brewing Company of Rochester New York. Fine with me. I like Rochester beer. It pours a light but burnished gold with a massive white rocky head when poured from a height. OK, about five inches high but slammed from the can. The aroma is not bad at all - grassy hops and fruity husky malt. You could be smelling a sauvignon blanc... or maybe just recalling the smell of a sauvignon blanc. Point is this: no off flavours. In the mouth I get sweet pale malt, some adjunct corn - but also lime leaf, apple juice, mineral, pear with a well balanced steel and maybe black tea bitter in the husky drying ending opening up a bit of yogurt tang in the end of the end. It is built for cold drinking but I like this a lot. If you have access to this on a regular basis and are buying any other standard American lagers you need to give this a try. Jason Alstrom rated it B+. I am not making this up.
Then there is the porter. As Lew said - "Wow!". It pours a fine mocha head over deep dark brown ale. The aroma is cocoa and date. One of the best smelling porters I have had the honour to schnozzle. In the mouth there is dry cocoa and cream as well as a really dusty texture. It is slightly honey and maybe even a note of lemon peel. The bitterness is in the room but minding its manners. It is not a huge in terms of body but neither is it thin. I like to think the same of myself. This one's label says that it is bottled by Cottrell Brewing Co of Pawcatuck, Connecticut for Narragansett Brewing of Providence, RI. So, really, neither of these are Rhode Island beers in the sense of a Rhode Island water source but the direction as to quality is coming out of America's smallest state and that, in this case, is the key. All BAers give the huge respect of a B+ for this beer.
What I really want to know is what this costs on the grocery store shelf. These beers have got to represent some of the best value in beer I have ever seen. The porter would not have surprised me if it poured out of a ten buck bottle labeled by a Danish or Scandinavian craft brewer. That good.