I was re-watching Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975) for the umpteenth-million time the other day. The movie that single-handedly created the notion of summer blockbuster is a true American classic. Brilliantly acted, innovatively filmed and endlessly quotable, “Jaws” has earned its place in the top-10 list of practically every critic worth their vertically-aimed thumbs for a reason.
In a movie chock-full of memorable scenes, it’s tough to beat the light-hearted, liquor-fueled one-ups-manship of Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss comparing their sea-faring battle wounds. The jollity is punctured like a balloon when Shaw’s shark-hunting Quint recounts his Naval vessel going into the drink in the South Pacific, his eyes fixed with a thousand-yard stare while treading the memories of sailors lost to the sharp teeth attacking from below.
How about the moment Sheriff Brody’s – played by Roy Scheider – worst fears are confirmed as the Great White he suspects is in the waters around Amity Island attacks again? The camera zooms in on Brody while the background seems to fly away providing a disorienting, nightmarish visual allegorical to what he’s feeling in a skipped heartbeat.
I have a quiet favorite within the movie. The grizzled, sea dog Quint is drinking a beer and, in a show of tough guy machismo, crumples the can with one hand. Dreyfuss’ marine biologist character Hooper, not to be intimidated, tests the limits of his finger muscles and crushes the Styrofoam coffee cup he had been holding.
That particular beer, by the way, happened to be a Narragansett Lager. It was the sensible choice for a movie prop; Narragansett was New England’s number one brewery from its inception in 1890 until its 1981 closure. “Jaws” was ambiguously centered somewhere in the New England states.
Narragansett remained under small contract brewing for the better part of two decades when some Rhode Island investors decided to bring it back home. Its recipes remain largely unchanged from decades past. No-frills, straight-forward workingman’s beer is what you get when you “have a ‘Gansett.”
“Jaws” was a summer movie. Narragansett played a very small role in the film. They also happen to have a summer beer whose style is making a come-back.
Shandy is the English name for German radler, a concoction dating back to the early 20th century. Both mix beer with (usually) a lemon-lime soda or lemonade. A half-century after Narragansett was established in Cranston, Rhode Island, an Italian immigrant opened up a frozen lemonade stand in the same town. Someone smart got the idea to mix the two together.
Narragansett Del’s Shandy is summertime in a can. Cloudy, burnished yellow with a quickly-fading head, this thirst-quenching, refreshing drink is as advertised. Lemonade meets cracker malt with a dose of lemon Pez for good measure. Light with abundant carbonation, it drinks real easy on a sweltering day.
I think we’re gonna need a bigger beer cooler.