Happy Canada Day! As an American, I can only assume that Canada Day is a day that Canadians worship the US (U-S-A, U-S A) or something like that. It may also be the anniversary of the day in 1867 that Canada was formed as a country within the British Empire. Alternatively it could be a day for Canadians to have a day off, blow things up, and drink beer. (Hint: it’s actually all of those) In celebration of our neighbors to the north, I am going to rundown what is easily one of my favorite Canadian brews; Moosehead Lager.
Moosehead Brewery is Canada’s oldest independent brewery, founded in 1867 (hey, just like Canada Day). One of the stranger bits in Moosehead’s history is that it was founded by a woman, Susannah Oland (I’m not saying that women can’t brew beer, they just usually don’t). Ms. Oland was a native Englander that moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1865 with a brown ale recipe in her pocket.
While in Halifax, the brewery was destroyed three times, twice by fire and once by explosion (yikes!). Understandably, following what was referred to as the “Halifax Harbor Explosion,” the Oland family moved their brewery to Saint John, New Brunswick.
Moosehead Lager was first introduced in the United States in 1978 (which is the same year I was introduced. Coincidence? Yeah, probably). Unexpectedly, the US market was what made Moosehead globally known because there were fairly strict inter provincial trade restrictions within Canada that limited its availability there until 1992.
In 2006, Andrew Oland took the reigns as the sixth generation of Olands to helm the family brewery (and yes, I wish every day that my great-great-great-Grandma had started a brewery).
Moosehead Lager is not brewed much differently than most light colored lagers, but it is aged for 28 days prior to bottling which gives it a little bit more flavor than others. They also use the water from Spruce Lake, which is Canadian so I assume it is clean and fresh tasting.
This is a beer that looks like beer. It has a deep, rich, yellow color that looks much less like urine than the way I’ve just described it. I find the aroma to be a little off-putting (as I do with many light lagers, especially green bottled ones), where the beer seems to always smell a little bit skunked. If you don’t know what I mean by skunked then you have not been drinking very long and you didn’t go to a state college.
Since the color and smell may have just turned you off, let’s turn you back on (hmmm, that may have sounded differently than I meant it). The taste of Moosehead Lager is quite good; with a smooth, clean finish and a hint of hops that gives it a little bit of depth. Moosehead is a great summer beer because it’s light enough to drink in the heat (and drink in quantity…if that’s your thing), but still has a rich beer flavor. It’s not the best beer I’ve ever had, but I find myself buying it repeatedly every summer, which must mean something (and that something may be that I drink too much).
If you are looking for a rich beer to pair with your dinner, Moosehead is not for you (unless your dinner consists mostly of McNuggets), but I would recommend it to most people as an alternative to the big American lagers. If you are having a cookout this summer and want your guests to say “what the heck is this…hey, it’s not bad,” then Moosehead Lager is for you.