When Jennie announced to the writers that we'd be doing Hometown Week*, I was both excited and a little apprehensive. Excited because it's a great idea, apprehensive because I'm 31 years old and still am not quite sure where my hometown is. Is it the town I lived until I was 8? The town we moved to at 8, where I stayed until I left for college? The area I lived in during college and through my mid 20s? The town I live in now, married and a home-owner? (Because those things make it somehow more official, no?)
Oh, come now! Would you really expect a post from me that didn't turn a simple, wholesome assignment into a watered-down existential crisis?
Well the easiest answer, as it so often does, came down to beer. (The cause of, and solution to, all life's problems! Name that quote.)
*Have you seen the other lovely posts this week? It's been so much fun reading about everyone's hometown eats. Go browse the site for a ton of fun, local gems!
The town in Rhode Island that I once called home is Narragansett. Across the bay from Newport, it's a long narrow thing that curves along the southeastern coast and is chockablock with beaches and college students (URI is in the next town over).
The center-ish of town looks like this.
Fun fact: those towers are called The Towers (creative) and it used to be part of a casino. At the turn of the century the whole oceanfront street (called Ocean Road. I mean, why confuse things?) was lined with casinos. Then they all burned down, and the towers were all that was left standing. It's now the site of social functions, proms, and if you went to my high school and have ever been married, quite possibly your wedding.
Casinos aside, at one time Narragansett was also known to have a namesake beer, then it wasn't, and now it is again. Narragansett beer, specifically. Again, we aim to keep it simple with the names, though despite being brewed in RI, I think the name had something to do with the Narragansett Indian tribe and cigar store Indians? Whatever, we're sticking with the hometown theme here. You can read the whole story here, but I'll give you the Cliff's Notes.
The brewery had been around since the late 19th century, and even managed to survive prohibition. By the '50s and through the '60s Narragansett was huge, the biggest brewing company in New England, and basically had the market cornered. Their slogan, "Hi neighbor. Have a Gansett." was all over and they were still brewing in Rhode Island, which I happen to think is pretty cool. By the early '80s, though, they were too big for their facilities, which were old and needed repair, and were having a hard time keeping up with production. Something something utility problems aaaand it was all over by 1983. In 2005 someone decided to resurrect Narragansett beer. He bought the rights, brought an original brew master back on board (!) and had it available to the public by that Fall.
Is that an American Hometown Story or what?
I haven't seen Narragansett outside New England, but for the past 6+ years I've noticed it becoming more and more ubiquitous every time I go back. I make sure I have one (or, um, more) every time I go to visit my parents. Narragansett seem to be coming out with a new beer every time I turn around, and they've kept the original "Hi, neighbor" tag line, which tickles me to no end. Despite this growth and my love for all things beer, I prefer to keep to the original, straightforward, and very drinkable session Lager. It's refreshing, always hits the spot, and my Dad usually makes sure there are a few cold ones in the fridge when they pick me up from the airport.
Have you seen Gansett beers near you? A favorite hometown or namesake drink?