Got Beer? Big Mamie

Big-MamieA long time ago, in a brewery far far away …

Actually, it was right over the line in Connecticut, where New England Brewing makes their infamous Imperial Stout Trooper, a potent, rich, hearty stout named in honor of one of our most beloved pop culture icons, Star Wars.

While initially successful, there soon came a dark force from far away that sought to oppress these rebel brewers. In 2009, the powerful Darth Lucas sent a cease and desist order to the brewery over the beer’s label, which depicted a stylized Stormtrooper helmet. Knowing they had no chance to battle such a powerful empire, New England Brewing changed their label very slightly in order to comply.

They added Groucho Marx mustache glasses.

As a result, original bottles of the Stout Trooper are a collectors’ item, but the beer is still being made to this day. It’s a treat to the stout lover, which apparently Darth Lucas is not.

No word as to whether the cease and desist order is still in effect since the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm, but considering Disney’s general history with copyright shenanigans during the Mike Eisner years, I wouldn’t hold my breath. This is the company that tried to copyright the word “princess,” and literally ripped off Lion King practically scene-for-scene from an existing Japanese anime.

They certainly haven’t been that kind to the 501st, a Star Wars fan group known for donning Imperial Stormtrooper costumes while doing a great deal of charity work and general good deeds (see story on page XX). Hey, someone has to give the empire a good name. It’s hard to spin the great deeds of a withered, evil old man in a cloak who shoots lightning from his hands when he gets mad.

Narragansett is one of those companies that tries to be both a macrobrewery and a craft beer brewery, with varying degrees of success. The Lovecraft tribute beers have been tasty, well-executed affairs. The seasonals vary wildly from year to year between drinkable and inoffensive to surprisingly complex and interesting. The random specialty beers usually manage to impress, thanks to the ever-busy Sean Larkin of every brewery everywhere.

So I was eager to try their newest release, the Big Mamie, named in honor of the USS Massachusetts and celebrating the history of the seasoned battleship that is now a part of the historic Fleet Museum in Fall River.

Since Narragansett beer itself is a bit of Rhode Island history, it’s a good fit, since most of the sailors probably found themselves with a few cases of the local brew upon their triumphant return from the war.

So let’s get down to it, shall we? How is the Big Mamie?

After some initial hop bite, the hints of malt float along the palate and kind of chill everything out like a soothing breeze on a hot day. It has a slightly crisp, citrusy finish and an overall earthy kind of bouquet that seems to blend subtly together.

It’s billed as an American pale ale, and it actually seems to hit the style right on the head, but without going overboard on hops as most American pales tend to do. It hits a nice middle-ground where it’s still a sessionable beer at 4.5%, but has enough character to distinguish itself from a more pedestrian ale. It’s a point on the side of craft brewer for Narragansett, though I’m tempted to take a point away because the Town Beach IPA recipe changed, and I quite liked that piney little devil!

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