A vow to the binding union of a pint of beer: Exploring RI’s OG beer

Photo: Kelly Lynn Currier

Let’s face it, communication is important in any type of relationship. Are women better communicators than men? I can’t answer this. I have been guilty of holding things in. If you have as well, why is that? Is it because you are afraid of expressing your true self? On the flip side, don’t you want to know the thoughts of people you care about? All I can say is your feelings are important to me if you are important to me.

Compromise is also important to maintaining a healthy relationship. If your friend or significant other likes eating healthy and you like fried foods are you really going to argue over a chicken wing? Trying new things not only helps you experience something new it also helps you bond. I don’t agree with losing yourself and giving up things you love or are important to you. Therefore, don’t even think about asking me out or even think I would consider being friends if you do not drink craft beer. In all seriousness, yes, what I said. I have a handful of friends who don’t like craft beer but they at least try it and 100% of the time they find something they like. 


Beer may be the glue that keeps relationships together. Generations of my family drank beer and not just any beer. They all drank Narragansett beer. 

Of course, I am joking. I believe beer brings people together through a commonality that wouldn’t have allowed them to otherwise meet. I fortunately was able to reacquaint with a former classmate Mark Hellendrung, the owner of Narragansett Brewing Company. He gave me the opportunity to meet Lee Lord, the head brewer of Narragansett. She unfortunately wasn’t able to engage in a conversation as she was getting married in a few days. This is a crazy coincidence since marriage is the underlying theme of this article? 

I had reached out to Ezra Juskewitch, the onsite sales and event manager whom I had met at a former visit to Narragansett. Ezra brilliantly gave some of his opinions to the questions I had about beer and relationships. “What a cold beer of Gansett represents, in terms of a loving marriage, is the space for one person to be comfortably engaged in a hobby or task that is separate from their partner.” Since Ezra witnesses celebrations and events at the brewery, I wanted to know what he saw and what role the brewery plays in these get-togethers. “What a pint represents is the opportunity for people who would have never met to get to know each other.” As you can see Ezra is in agreement with me on this. Ezra went on to say, “I see wedding rehearsal dinners, where some guests don’t know the first thing about beer (self avowed wine drinkers), but discover common ground with hop heads and beer aficionados. It’s an instant shorthand, a wink to a neighbor at the bar or a nod to a bartender over a mutually understood reference. The taproom is equally suited for getting out of the house to decompress, meeting new family, or grabbing a pint with your love and talking while the sun sets.” That last statement made my heart ache a little. It’s a perfect intimate setting for this craft beer lover. 

Time for a brief history lesson on Narragansett Brewing. Which I will refer to as, NB. You can find a more in depth account on their website. In 1890, six businessmen formed NB. A year later, a brewing house was built and the first beer was produced. In the late 1890’s, close to 28,000 barrels of beer was brewed. Prohibition interfered financially with NB in the 1920s, despite being granted the ability to produce beer for medicinal reasons. NB got back on its feet with some financial help in 1931 and went on to sponsor the Boston Red Sox a little over a decade later. NB was the last brewery to remain in RI in the late 1950s and eight years later changed ownership. Then, an antitrust suit put the brewery on standstill for almost a decade. Contesting this and purchasing another brewery brand in the 1970s ended this stand-still. The brewery went on to be purchased by RI resident Mark Hellendrung along with other investors from New England in 2005. We are lucky enough to have the brewery back and open in its state of origin since 2019. 

On a warm and sunny July day, I decided to take some vacation time from work and day drink at Narragansett. I went when they opened at noon on a Friday. The benefit of going early is a seat at the bar. Although there are a lot of bar seats available, they fill up fast. That’s a sign of good beer and great company. I found just that. Sipping through my flight of four craft beers, I overheard a patron ask Ezra if he knew the history behind Narragansett. Ezra of course answered yes as did the beertenders within listening distance. This gentleman went on to explain his history with the brewery. Soon after I introduced myself and had the pleasure of speaking to Paul Eacuello. Paul worked as marketing director for NB during his college years in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He said it was the best job he ever had. His father also worked at NB in the ‘40s and ‘50s. He was in charge of “Good Will.”  What is “Good Will?” Good Will is the original way of marketing and advertising. He would go to local bars and buy patrons a Gansett. Perhaps, he shared a pint every now and again. What better way to spread the news than to buy a pint for a stranger! I think it’s a genius idea! I went back to drinking my beers and because I love the coaster phrase puzzles NB has I randomly grabbed one to solve. “A treat for the eyes.” Because I am never short on deep thoughts I found this phrase relevant to the theme of this article.

Upon the first sight of anything and anyone we all judge and form an opinion. Anything we buy or see and anyone we meet allows us to make a decision to either eat it, drink it, wear it, date or have sex. While this is true for most of us, sometimes we are wrong about that initial opinion. That person you thought was hot turns out to be a hot mess. You order a beer based on its name or color and it isn’t what you expected. Did this happen to me at NB? Fuck no. Don’t be silly. Has it happened to me with a man? Hell, yes! If he or she looks delicious, spit them out. They are not good for you. 

I did however drink a beer in my flight that was labeled as an Oenobier when it was actually an Imperial West Coast IPA. I was actually happy about this. It put my taste buds to the test. I kept thinking. I can’t taste grapes and why isn’t this purple?  Anyway, the actual Oenobier, named “Matilde,” was delicious. Imagine a grape wine marrying a beer and having a baby. This is the baby. It is ruby in color and forms a thin-rimmed lacing along the glass. There is grape on the nose and on the palate along with notes of cherries. It is made with those two fruits as well as black currants and raspberries. This ruby beauty clocks in at 7.2% ABV. It is light and perfect to sip on in the summer. The Imperial WCIPA, “Emperor Nate,” lives up to its powerful name. Nate pours a clear amber color with thin lacing. There is citrus on the nose and front sip. Bitter, piney hops take over the palate for the finish. While these two beers were my favorites, I was extremely excited to try ‘53 Lager. This lager was made by Lee Lord to represent the 1950’s ‘Gansett. It pours a clear golden color with a foamy white head. There is corn and malt on the nose. As I took my first sip I said, “Oh yum, fuck yes!” The flavor of sweet malt is evenly balanced with cereal and corn that lingers on the palate. It is clean and crisp! My only complaint is that it is a 12-ounce can. I understand, as 16-ounce cans were not available in the year this beer is meant to represent.

I will have and hold you. It will always be better than worse. You will make me poorer but richer in spirit. I will celebrate the joys of life with you. You will be cherished. This I vow from this day forward. Did I just write my vows? It sounds more like a vow to continue to drink local craft beer. Will I ever be in a white dress and commit to the love of my life? I can’t answer the marriage part of my question but I do believe in commitment and love. To quote my friend John who is a local brewer, “Personally speaking, love and understanding have always been my requirements. Relationships should not be stressful. Your day should start and end with a full heart.” 

Now go fill that heart with the love of a local craft beer!

Narragansett Brewing Company, 271 Tockwotton St., PVD.

Food Trucks: