Rhode Island man hopes to make Narragansett regional product again
July 25, 2005 - A Rhode Island man hops to revive Narragansett Lager Beer, one of the most popular brands in the state's history.
Mark D. Hellendrung, 37, of Middletown, the former president of Nantucket Nectars, was part of a small group of New England investors who last month bought the rights to the Narragansett beer brand from the Pabst brewing organization.
Narragansett beer was especially popular in the 1960s with well-known slogans and jingles, such as "Hi neighbor, have a 'Gansett." Its Cranston brewery closed in the early 1980s, and production moved out-of-state.
Hellendrung said New Englanders have fond memories of the Narragansett brand.
"I just wanted to bring it back to Rhode Island and do it right," he said.
The beer is currently brewed in La Crosse, Wis., and is available in 16-ounce cans. The investor group plans to move production to the High Falls Brewery in Rochester, N.Y. Hellendrung said the company also plans to have a small brewery operation in Providence.
The beer is available in about 250 bars, restaurants and liquor stores in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, about double its distribution before the investors acquired the brand, Hellendrung said.
"We're just getting started," Hellendrung said. But he can already sense success. "A lot of Rhode Islanders are on my side," he said. The company seeks to tap the wellspring of memories that many regional consumers have for Narragansett Beer. "You go in to any bar in Rhode Island and there's a guy who will tell you a story about Narragansett Beer," he said.
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