So there it was at Hannaford's in Bedford - one last six-pack of Narragansett Beer. I have written on it before, because it is a New England nostalgia tradition. They also have a mock-50's-cheesecake tradition of Gansett Girls, if you like that sort of thing. I keep expecting my niece to show up on that.
Yet I had never drunk a Narragansett Beer in my life. It had a New England cachet because it sponsored the Red Sox and everyone could recite their whole shpiel (...light but not too light; in can or on tap...) but I don't recall seeing it in stores when I was young. Not at Milford Street Market, Artilu's Variety, or the other stores that didn't ask for ID, anyway. It was a Rhode Island beer, also popular south of Boston in Mass. NH didn't have a local beer.
So I am drinking my second 16 oz, 1890 "Made On Honor, Sold On Merit" lager now. It tastes like every beer I drank in highschool and college and the first ten years of adulthood. It's a mild-flavored American lager, and the only difference was whether it was old and had gone bad. What we used to think of as a bad batch of beer I now know was likely just old.
As the saying goes, there was only one flavor of beer then, and that was the beer flavor. Schlitz, Schaefer, Miller, Budweiser, Falstaff, whatever. Pretty much the same. Carling Black Label now, that was different. My grandfather drank that. Nasty stuff. Maybe it was more like what they had in Nova Scotia, where he came from. More likely, it was the cheapest beer at the PX at Fort Devens.
When Michelob, Coors, and Tuborg came in, and the Canadian Molson and Labatt's started to become available, those were supposed to be radical departures. In retrospect, very minor moves in the direction of the beers of NW Europe.