Is a Del’s frozen lemonade-inspired Narragansett shandy destined for a store shelf near you in the near future? Most likely. A tweet last week from the account of Narragansett’s Boston sales and marketing manager Peter Boyd set the New England beer world abuzz with the possibility of the release of the lemony drink.
A PR representative for the company confirmed that the news was true, but Narragansett CEO Mark Hellendrung told me the talk is “premature” until the company tweaks the recipe and receives government approval. If all goes well, the beverage, a combination of ’Gansett’s award-winning lager with Del’s lemon concentrate, will be released sometime in April. It will be sold in six-packs of 16-ounce tallboy cans and weigh in around 5 percent alcohol by volume. In December, Narragansett released a collaboration with another Rhode Island company, pushing Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout to store shelves.
‘The Taste’ winner on craft beer
More and more, we’re seeing craft beer represented in mainstream media. Recently, food stylist Louise Leonard brought her love of craft to ABC’s “The Taste,” where she not only talked a big beer game, but won the whole darn thing. Leonard tended bar at the Blind Tiger in New York City for 10 years, graduated culinary school, and is now a food stylist for magazines and television, among other gigs. She spoke with me recently about cooking with beer, doing a show with noted chef Anthony Bourdain, and more.
Q. On the show you were an advocate for craft beer. Has beer gained traction in the media?
A. I don’t look at beer as trendy. I always thought it was under-appreciated in terms of pairing, and in terms of cooking. I was super happy to represent that on the show in a beautiful way. My job is to make food delicious and make it look good. Long gone are the days of beer drinkers as bearded fat men sitting around eating a bunch of fried food.
Hopefully, people watching said, “Wow, this is cool, here’s this chick who cares about and elevates this blue-collar ingredient to something more.”
Q. What kinds of beers do you like to drink?
A. Sours are awesome with food, especially with really rich, buttery foods. . . . I like West Coast IPAs. If someone throws me a can of PBR at a barbecue I’m not going to say no, I’m going to drink it. But if you care about food and care about things that taste good, why would you sit around drinking Budweiser?
Q. One of my frustrations watching the show was that you did a cooking challenge involving beer without beer being talked about in any kind of depth. I sensed that was frustrating for you as well.
A. You couldn’t say any of the names of the beer on the show. When I would talk about beer, it was completely beyond the producers. They didn’t know what I was talking about, so they didn’t edit any of it in. The beer challenge, I was literally livid. They had given us 10 [crappy] lagers from around the world, one stout, and Lagunitas IPA. It would be like giving someone a challenge and saying, “The only ingredient you have to work with is 10 different kinds of baloney.’’
Q. I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain’s other shows (he was one of the hosts and judges on the show), but it’s always annoyed me that he’s never given more thought to beer.
A. Now every hipster and their brother is into good beer. He must think it’s too pretentious, and he’s a down-and-dirty sort of guy. I feel like if you could sit Bourdain down in a room with some really cool beer people and show him all the cool things going on, he’d dig it.
Q. For the beer challenge you made a chili. What would you have done on the beer show had you had a full arsenal of beer to choose from?
A. I wanted to do some sort of lamb. I love, love love braised lamb shanks. “Lamb-ic shanks.” the judges would have felt it was creative and a little out of the ordinary. At the end of the day you still have to make do with what you’ve got.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen