Narragansett Beer Expands Into Wisconsin

PROVIDENCE, RI – Iconic New England brewer Narragansett Beer proudly announces expansion into Wisconsin, marking the brand’s first move beyond the East Coast. Narragansett, affectionately referred to as ‘Gansett, is now officially available for purchase statewide at area bars, restaurants and package stores.

Narragansett has partnered with Beechwood Distributing and Specialty Beverage of Wisconsin whose owners are former New Englanders and longtime supporters of the brand.

“We are pleased to be part of Narragansett’s first rollout outside of the East Coast,” said John Sheehan, General Manager of both operations. “Narragansett’s classic American Lagers and Ales have a rich heritage and tradition similar to many longstanding Wisconsin beers. The company’s ‘Hi, neighbor! Have a Gansett!’ tagline is a great fit with the friendly and social Wisconsin culture.”

Narragansett was drawn to Wisconsin due in large part to its storied history with beer. Just as much of the state’s culture was influenced by an expansive population of German immigrants dating back to 1845, Narragansett Beer was first brewed in 1890 by the “Original Six” team of founders, an entrepreneurial group of German immigrants who brought their brewing techniques and expertise with them to Rhode Island. Further, Wisconsin’s beer business growth — 2,000 breweries the same year ‘Gansett was founded — subsequent decline during Prohibition, and revival in the 1980s closely mirrors the Narragansett story as well.

“Narragansett’s expansion into Wisconsin is an exciting step for our company as we continue to accelerate the growth momentum we’ve built over the past six years,” explains CEO Mark Hellendrung. “Personally, this is very much a homecoming for me as my entire family is from Wisconsin, and most of my childhood summer vacations were spent there. For more than a century, the state has been home to a great number of beer brands, and we can’t think of a better place to take our first steps beyond the East Coast.”

Narragansett was the largest brewer and top selling beer of New England for decades. During its glory days, the Cranston, Rhode Island brewery produced almost two million barrels of beer per year and employed roughly 850 workers. The brand gained notoriety amongst audiences far beyond New England through their ubiquitous slogan “Hi neighbor, have a ‘Gansett,” whimsical branding by Dr. Seuss, and timeless product placements, such as in the 1975 release of Jaws.

Due to a series of acquisitions beginning in the 1970s, the relocation of production to Indiana, and the eventual demolition of the original brewery in 1995, the brand quickly lost its market share, along with its unique character.

In 2005, Hellendrung, the former President of Nantucket Nectars, was introduced to Narragansett after asking for something with a ‘little more character’ in a Newport, Rhode Island bar. That year, he and a group of enthusiastic investors purchased the rights to the company, and, ever since, have been working to rebuild the ‘Gansett name, creating the foundation necessary to reestablish Narragansett as a beloved brand once again.

Since that time, the company has marked major business milestones and gained much national acclaim for its family of straightforward, high-quality beers. Recent accolades include the World Beer Cup Bronze Medal for Best Lager, being named top-rated Premium Lager by Beer Advocate, and beating out Sam Adams and Sapporo as Best Lager in the 18th Annual Great International Beer Festival.


Narragansett BeerÔǪBrewed since 1890. ‘Gansett is a straightforward, quality beer that has been a New England tradition for generations, producing a classic family of award-winning American lagers & ales. Today, ‘Gansett is produced at top-rated breweries in Providence, RI, Pawcatuck, CT, Rochester, NY, and Latrobe, PA. Narragansett is available for purchase in local restaurants, bars, and liquor stores throughout New England, Eastern Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Brewbound Job Board

The leading job board for the beer industry. Featuring hundreds of jobs from leading breweries and associated companies.

Brewbound Marketplace Listing

The Brewbound Marketplace features listings for equipment, services, and more. Post a listing today.

Brewbound's Database of Breweries

Brewbound's database of breweries includes thousands of breweries from around the world.

Brewbound Podcast

The Brewbound Podcast features interviews with beer industry executives and entrepreneurs, along with highlights and commentary from the weekly news. New episodes every Thursday.