Thursday, October 4, 2018

Episode 14: Moosehead Lager with Squire Brendan Roche

I. Introduction

"Clayman, get out of here.  I don't want to have to mop."

Earlier this week the United States and her sister to the north, Canada, managed to avoid a cataclysmic trade war when the two nations grudgingly came to an agreement on revisions to the all-important NAFTA treaty.  In celebration of this news we’re talking about a beer that, while making up only about 4% of the Canadian domestic market, is still favored by Willie Nelson and Michael J. Fox, the beer used to toast the successful testing of the renowned Canada arm that adorned Space Shuttle for decades, a beer identified with fishermen and loggers in the great Canadian northeast.

Its story begins in 1867 with the founding of Army & Navy Brewery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  The founder, John Oland, died only three years later, and thus the brewery was renamed after his wife and fellow English émigré, Susannah. Delicious beers were brewed by S. Oland & Sons in Dartmouth until 1928 when the founder’s grandson moved the brewery to St. John and changed its name to New Brunswick Brewery.  This name in turn stuck until just after the Second World War when it was once more renamed, this time losing the regional appellation and acquiring one that referred to upper body anatomy of a ruminant mammal.

First imported to the United States in 1978, the brand was so exceptionally successful that the brewers had to radically expand its brewing capacity by 1985, the year it launched in the United Kingdom and became the fourth most consumed import beer in the United States.

Today’s beer is the largest brewery wholly owned by Canadian interests, a beer made by a company that survived the infamous Halifax explosion, a beer embroiled in a notorious ax murder, and a beer at the center of Guy Ritchie-esque heists.

That’s right folks, today, on Pickled Eggs & Cold Beer, we’re talking about Moosehead Lager. 

Today's theme is Blind Lemon Jefferson's 1928 "Lectric Chair Blues."

II. Our Guest (and Guest Host) Squire Brendan Roche

Professor Smith and Squire Roche, looking opulent. 

III. Rubric

BeerAdvocate: 3.04 of 5

RateBeer: 2.25 of 5

Untappd: 3.08 of 5

ABV: 5%

Ingredients:  Canadian-grown two-row pale malted barley, Moosehead’s own lager yeast,  hops (from Canada or Washington state), local (New Brunswick) water, and corn syrup.

Cost: $ to $1/2 - in our area we can mostly buy it in 12-packs for around a dollar a beer. 

IV. Our Reviews and Talking Points

Appearance: Golden, not overly pale, transparent, translucent, low carbonation. 

Aroma: Very little odor after the first few seconds.

Flavor: Minimally "lager" flavored, a minor aftertaste from bottle, almost none from glass. Not overly sweet.

Mouthfeel: The low carbonation, smooth, dry, nothing too "anything." 

Authenticity, Marketing, and Other Factors: The website is great, but advertising in the US, at least in our region, is almost non-existent.  The continuity with the family impressive.  We're not sure when adjuncting began but this is a corn syrup adjunct, so there is some discontinuity there.  Of course there are the scandals, some of which increase the romance associated (the heists), some of which are disturbing (the murder scandal).  

Overall:  B-Roche threw up a rating of 2.25 for Moosehead Lager, while Doc Smith nudged a little higher with a 2.75.  Overall rating? This super inoffensive beer is right down the middle rating overall of 2.5 of 5. 

V. Sponsors

This episode was sponsored by two wonderful local businesses:
Leben Farms of Abingdon, Virginia

Leben Farms is a community supported-agriculture (CSA) program that offers locally grown fresh vegetables in weekly boxes to its members in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee.  Using organic and regenerative practices to grown nutrient dense food, community-supported agriculture is a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers. In short: people buy "shares" of a farm's harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they're harvested.

Check them out on Facebook or Instagram.


Glade Pharmacy in Glade Spring, Virginia
33472 Lee Hwy, Glade Spring, VA 24340

Locally owned and managed, Glade Pharmacy provides the highest quality pharmaceutical service in the Emory/Glade Spring area.

VI. Plugs

Black Bears

Emory, Virginia

Workman Publishing Company

Abingdon, Virginia

VII. Further Reading and Viewing

Matthew Bellamy. September 22, 2017.  "Moosehead Breweries, Ltd." The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Richard J. Brennan.  July 12, 2011. "Former Moosehead Beer Exec Killed with Axe, Source Says."  The Toronto Star. 

Janet Cawley.  October 29, 1985.  "Moosehead Beer Bulls its Way Out of the Woods."  Chicago Tribune.

Sasha Goldstein.  November 8, 2017.  "Canadian Brewery Moosehead Files Lawsuit Against Rutland's Hop'n Moose."   Seven Days

Ronald Theriot. October 25, 2015.  "Moosehead Lager Revisited."  Louisiana Beer Reviews

VIII. Black Ink Epiphany: Original Art by Eric Drummond Smith 
(A Shameless Plug)

Hey folks, on September 29th I have a month-long show opening at Wolf Hills Brewing in Abindgon, Virginia. To open the show I'll be spending the day and evening at the Brewery to talk to folks and answer any questions you might have about the art. Also, I figured I'd go on and share my artist's statement for the show with you. I hope to see you Saturday, or if not then, later throughout the month!

Black Ink Epiphanies 
Artist Statement

First I turn on the music. Blues or jazz or punk usually, unless its Chopin or old-school rap. I close my eyes and let the music eat into my brain, fill me up with colors and rhythms and emotions, digging up philosophy and religion and memories.

I make marks on paper or wood or canvas, the music driving my hand like an old steam engine. There isn’t a purpose to it, except to make the mark, to be a conduit between music and emotion and whatever is going to be left on the paper when I’m done. Now, mind you, there will be a purpose, but I have to wait for it, dig through the paint and ink like Mary Anning sloughing rock for ichthyosaurs. Albrecht Dürer’s ghost gives me notes about rhinoceroses and devils and I steal my lines from Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and Keith Haring and Japanese ukiyo-e. I cuss softly under my breath because I’ll never be as good as Egon Schiele, never understand color as well as Van Gogh. Wassily Kandinsky and Jean-Michel Basquiat raise hell in the corner, anarchy on paper, glorious and free and terrifying, and I nod in time with banjos or trumpets, steel guitars and lamentations full of grit and scratches.

I think of the art you find in old places and dusty places in the mountains, invitations for booze and warnings of hell, memories of revivals and football games, paint chipping and rust rusting, imperfect and untrained and all the better for it, the art of the folk, my folk, the hillbillies and melungeons, the black folk and native American folk, all living in the shadowy blue-green-purple-brown-orange mountains. I remember the drips of graffiti on gray walls click-clacking coal trains, the cyan-magenta-yellow dots that acquainted with Unca’ Scrooge and Peter Parker, the yellow-varnished icons on the shelves of faraway churches, of birds by Audubon and menus in restaurants named after someone who lives a block away. I think of Hawai’ian shirts and of Christ's Entry Into Brussels in 1889, and the music swells again, the pattern etching into my mind and thus my hand and thus my brush and thus my paper. I think of birds.

The music lets out my rage and sadness and joy, venting it into the paint, keeping me from going mad, from joining my kith and kin whose spirits wander, furtive, les enfants de l'art brut, haunting asylums and hospitals and backrooms and basements.

Sometimes I write on the paper or wood or canvas, prose and poetry and lyrics, Bible stories and legends, hard truths and gentle lies. I hold my brush like a Chinese calligrapher then, sometimes, justifying mistakes as divine intervention, embracing the error in the evolution of the composition.

Then, eventually, the music stops and the artist creeps back inside, just under the skin. I’m the other me again, until I pick a new song.

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