“It was a town of wide extent and dense construction, yet one with a portentous dearth of visible life. From the tangle of chimney-pots scarcely a wisp of smoke came, and the three tall steeples loomed stark and unpainted against the seaward horizon. One of them was crumbling down at the top, and in that and another there were only black gaping holes where clock-dials should have been. The vast huddle of sagging gambrel roofs and peaked gables conveyed with offensive clearness the idea of wormy decay, and as we approached along the now descending road I could see that many roofs had wholly caved in…
Here and there the ruins of wharves jutted out from the shore to end in indeterminate rottenness, those farthest south seeming the most decayed. And far out to sea, despite a high tide, I glimpsed a long, black line scarcely rising above the water yet carrying a suggestion of odd latent malignancy. This, I knew, must be Devil Reef.”
No, it’s not a description of Wickenden Street — it’s the fictional town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, from H.P Lovecraft’s short story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” The tale, in which the protagonist uncovers Innsmouth’s plague of murderous amphibian creatures from the sea, is regularly taken as an allegory for Lovecraft’s thinly veiled racism and xenophobia, extending particularly to issues of interracial marriage and immigration. But that’s all right, because it turns out it’s inspired a beer!
Lovecraft, often called the “Father of Modern Horror,” was born in Providence and spent much of his life here. The ‘Innsmouth Olde Ale’ is the second in the Narragansett Brewing Company’s line of H.P Lovecraft-themed beer, the first of which — the ‘Honey Ale’ — was released in January. The Honey Ale has been off the shelves for some time now, but was recently replaced by the Innsmouth themed brew in liquor stores throughout Rhode Island (and presumably the rest of New England). The line of beers feature artwork from local artists on the cans.
Thus, they’re worth a try, bitter taste of the late author’s rampant intolerance notwithstanding. Where the Honey Ale was “backboned by the combination of five pale malts, open[ing] up with a hint of honey sweetness, then turn[ing] with a herbal hop crescendo and a smooth finish“– according to the Narragansett website — the Olde Ale “draws its balanced, robust, and slightly toasted features from a complex blend of Two-Row Pale, Crystal, Cara, Dark Munich, and Chocolate malts, Chocolate rye and finishes with just a touch of Summer and East Kent Goldings hops.”
Narragansett has yet to announce the name of their next Lovecraft-themed beer — ‘Cthulu’s Urine’ seems probable — but in the meantime, local stores will be selling 16 oz tall boys (at 7% ABV, these can be dangerous, so drink responsibly).