Canadian Macro Lagers

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ZAP, Mar 22, 2020.

  1. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (4,348) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota

    Does anyone know how many are still independently brewed? Not many are I don't think.

    I did a blind taster today with the following.

    Moosehead (I think it is independent still but not positive)
    Kokanee (A-B?)
    Labatt Blue (A-B?)
    Molson Canadian (Molson Coors)

    How about O'Keefe or Old Vienna. Are those still made?

    In my taste test I found Moosehead to most resemble what I remember as Canadian beer in the mid to late 80's. Husky, full bodied...a bit harsh...
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,663) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    According to the Moosehead Brewing Co. website they are indeed independent.


    Six generations ago, the Oland family – led by matriarch Susannah Oland – began brewing and selling October brown ale on the family farm, located on the Dartmouth shore of the Halifax Harbour. What started as a small one-woman craft brewery, grew with grit throughout time as the commitment to brewing quality beer passed on from generation to generation. Today we are Moosehead Breweries Limited. Led by Susannah’s great-great-great grandson, Andrew Oland.”

    Permit me to share a couple of Moosehead stories. Last summer my wife and I attended HomebrewCon 2019 in Providence, RI and thereafter we went to Canada for some vacationing. We first went to Nova Scotia with most of our time spent on Cape Breton. It just so happened while we were there they had a music festival throughout Cape Breton called KitchenFest. In small venues in many different locations they had concerts of local performers playing Gaelic music; in Gaelic they would call these events a Ceilidh (pronounced like Kay-lee, I think)”

    “Ceilidh: a social event at which there is Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing, and storytelling.”

    One of the Ceilidhs occurred at a Royal Canadian Legion in Baddeck, NS. They had Moosehead on tap and it was available in a fancy glass so I ordered one (it had been over a decade+ since I had one). I enjoyed drinking that glass of Moosehead.


    Later in the vacation we visited St. Johns, New Brunswick to see the reversing waterfalls at the Bay of Fundy and nearby we could see the Moosehead Brewery.

  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,082) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Molson took over/merged with Carling-O'Keefe in 1989. Old Vienna is listed as a current product on MC's US and Canadian websites.

    O'Keefe was a C-O'K ale brand, besides OV their other big lager was Carling Black Label. Carling Lager is also still brewed and sold in Canada.
    (The Ontario Beer Store website is helpful on this topic, although obviously doesn't cover the entire country.)
    Yes, in Canada (Interbrew bought Labatt in the mid-1990s). But FIFCO USA owns the rights to the Labatt brand in the US and the Labatt Blue sold here is brewed by another company, as required by the DoJ agreement which allowed InBev to take over AB. The company FIFCO chose was....
    Molson Coors, since they wanted to maintain the brand's "Brewed in Canada" image.
    #3 jesskidden, Mar 22, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
  4. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Devotee (495) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    Growing up in Pennsylvania, about 25 miles from Canada, I was raised on this category of beer.. quite literally. Early in hike school, my dads kegerator was filled with Labatt Blue... which we obviously drank a bit of wink emoji. Once I got to college, he switched to Molson Canadian for some reason and I really enjoyed that one a lot more.

    Been eyeing up the Labatt Blue Citra I’ve been seeing occasionally and I really, deep down know it’ll be awful... but I love the old school slash new school things the name invokes in me lol

    Anyone try it?!
  5. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,082) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Like many of the other "Labatt" branded beers (as well as FMB's and seltzers) that FIFCO markets in the US, Labatt Blue Citra is brewed in the US at the Genesee brewery in Rochester, NY:
    Only the "original" brands, Labatt Blue and Labatt Blue Light, as well as some (but not all) Labatt Ice are brewed in Canada by Molson. The labels are well marked.
  6. Ahonky

    Ahonky Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2018 New York

    I banged through a 12-pack of Moosehead last fall. Decent no nonsense everyday lager. It didn't taste like an AAL. Is it?
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,082) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    In the recent past - 2015 or so - a "Blog" entry (on what was then called Moosehead Beer Academy- no longer online) stated:
    And a few years back, their Facebook page, a reply from the official brewery account, that specifically mentions their Lager:
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,663) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    On the Moosehead website they state (with emphasis in bold by me):

    “Brewed with 100% Canadian two-row pale malt and Moosehead’s own lager yeast, Moosehead Lager is cool-fermented and cold-aged to impart its award-winning flavour.”

    It sure reads like an all malt beer.

  9. BruChef

    BruChef Aspirant (221) Nov 8, 2009 New York

    I bought a 12 pack. I thought it was pretty solid for what it was and I’d drink/purchase it again.
  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,082) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    I agree it is confusing (if not downright deceptive), but my two quotes are also from official Moosehead sources. (< Link no longer works but is easily found at the Wayback Machine site).

    I've wondered if by "100% Canadian two-row pale malt" they mean the two row malt they use (in addition to maltose/corn syrup) is "100% Canadian".
    That's what this quoted section seems to imply:
    There are also secondary sources quoting Moosehead replies that mention adjuncts, corn and corn syrup at
  11. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,163) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    The wording of that sounds kinda fishy though. "100% Canadian two-row pale malt" could just mean that the two-row being used is 100% Canadian and everything else (like the high maltose corn syrup) is not.

    EDIT: didn't realize this was addressed to @jesskidden ...apologies for butting-in
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  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,663) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I suppose that is possible but the other 'challenge' is that breweries tweak recipes all the time. Maybe in 2020 it is all malt but in the recent past adjuncts were used?

    We can all speculate here. Needless to say but the folks at Moosehead know what's up here but their communications are confusing.

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  13. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,163) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Since we’re taking about Moosehead, have you tired Moosehead Ale before? I haven’t seen it in a while, I bought a 4 pack (16oz cans) last year or so and it was pretty good.
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  14. BSRicky

    BSRicky Initiate (27) Jul 4, 2016 Canada

    Not to be too pedantic, but in production of high maltose corn syrup its pretty common to use barley or wheat, so the claim might technically be true on both fronts. 'Corn syrup' is a trade term, and not necissarily produced from maize. That said, I would trust this claim about as far as I can throw it, which given its digital format is not very far.
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  15. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (7,509) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    I find these comments so interesting (and I say that with all sincerity) about the perceptions of Canadian mass market macro lager from US consumers (primarily).

    As a young(er) man beer swilling my way in Canada, it was really a perception of where your brewery was. It was really down to only 3, Molson, Labatt, or ahem... OV.

    Moosehead there was some pride with them in the 80s cause they were "independent" for whatever that means, and then with the rumor mill... they were suddenly no longer "cool" as they "supposedly" got bought out... by.. an... wait for it... "American" company. gasp!

    There was honestly no way of taking any of this seriously in those pre Internet days either.

    It also blew my mind how there were maybe a small group (and I mean count on one hand) of mass brewers, but you couldn't even get their full product line if you lived in a certain Geo graphic area of the country...

    man have times changed... There are truly independent people making beer in Canada now..
  16. thedaveofbeer

    thedaveofbeer Aspirant (250) Mar 25, 2016 Massachusetts

    The only I thing I know on the topic is that the countless Molson Canadians I enjoyed in our college pub in Quebec were instrumental to my affection for Canada and Poutine. I dated a girl whose mother worked at Moosehead in NB. I got some cases as a fringe benefit of my relationship, but I was never a fan of the beer. Canadian women on the other hand.....
  17. milkshakebeersucks

    milkshakebeersucks Disciple (309) Feb 10, 2020 Maryland

    Resisting the urge to rush out and get reacquainted with an old standard like Moosehead but it sure puts me in the mood to see the movie Strange Brew again.
  18. bluejacket74

    bluejacket74 Poo-Bah (5,472) Jul 4, 2005 Ohio

    I tried it about a year ago, it really wasn't awful at all. Have no idea how fresh the can I had was, but I would like to try it again at some point if I knew it was fresh. I've had a lot worse beers!
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  19. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,163) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    I remember one of my earliest drinking memories was in high school (south shore of Massachusetts, circa 2004), splitting a case of Molson Golden with 2 friends and drinking the whole damn thing down on the beach by a jetty one night. Good times.

    My only regret is that I never got to try Molson Export. Last I heard it’s still available in Canada but that may have changed.
  20. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,328) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    I enjoyed my share of Molson Canadian. It was a darned good taster back in the day.
  21. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Devotee (493) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Last time I has moose head was the spring of 1980. Seems it was a fine brew, perhaps I should look for some
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  22. bluejacket74

    bluejacket74 Poo-Bah (5,472) Jul 4, 2005 Ohio

    I liked drinking Molson Export when I was in college, but then that was 20 some years ago too. Drank a lot of Molson Golden, Molson Export and Moosehead at that time. :beers::slight_smile:
  23. Foyle

    Foyle Savant (981) Sep 29, 2007 North Carolina

    The Moosehead Pale Ale is quite good (I also enjoy Moosehead Lager). They finally started exporting it to the U.S. in 2018. After about a year it disappeared everywhere in North Carolina (but not until after I had purchased a couple of cases).

    It used to appear on their U.S. distributors beer finder page but disappeared from there sometime in 2019.
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,663) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    No, I have never tried Moosehead Ale; in fact I was unaware of this beer until your post.

  25. YamBag

    YamBag Initiate (182) Feb 2, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Drank a lot of Molson Golden and Labatt 50 in the early 90s been ages since I've seen either. Also use to drink Glacier Bay with the bottle opner on the bottom of the bottle.
  26. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (127) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    My college buddies and I used to hop the Canadian border from Vermont into Quebec before we were 21 to have beer at a sports bar, where I would have Export. Although my tastes were still developing then, I must say that while I enjoyed Export, it was nothing spectacular or really different from an adjunct lager besides being (maybe?) somewhat fruitier with a somewhat rounder mouthfeel. Otherwise it had that same usually kind of watery corn taste you get with continental macros.

    I think they used to actually export Export, but not anymore. We last visited that place three years ago, before we all graduated and went off to be adults.
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  27. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,082) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Never heard that rumor, but in the early 80s (when Moosehead shot to the #5 position of imported beer in the US)it was well-known and reported in the general business press in the US that Moosehead Beer, in it's "heritage" style green bottle, did not exist in Canada at the time and was created and packaged specifically for the US market.

    Moosehead's line-up in the early 80s, with the US-only Beer, center (note that the second stubby with the similar label is labeled "Special Ale") :
    re: Molson Export Ale. In the US, it was long the #3 Molson product in the US - and was sometimes labeled simply Molson Ale because the brewery and importer, Martlet, reputedly thought calling an imported beer "Export" might confuse some consumers.
    Martlet Imports was founded by an ex-Van Munching/Heineken salesman, Gerald Regan. He convinced the Molson brewery to use that green Heineken-like bottle for the US market, and the brand became the #2 Import in the US (even before it was distributed nationally).

    Below is Molson's enlarged US portfolio from the mid-80s, after both Molson Light and, by popular demand, Brador "Liqueur de Malt" were added and the Export was labeled as such:
    #27 jesskidden, Mar 24, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
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  28. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Devotee (493) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Hahahah, last Brador I had was in the early 80s. Don't really remember it.
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  29. Ahonky

    Ahonky Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2018 New York

    Thanks. Gotta say, its a pretty clean tasting lager with no off-notes. I'm not saying adjuncts produce off-notes as a rule...just saying it tastes like a well built beer
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  30. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,508) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I wonder if this is the beer that we would get two 12 packs of when we took the train to Toronto with my mom as kids? I always remember my dads request as "Brodeur" , like the new jersey devil's goalie, and I have a distinct memory of 10 or 11 year old me dropping a 12.pack on the platform and the beer just gushing out the hand holes.

    Although now that I'm remembering, he was so excited for us to get it because it wasn't available in the US (maybe anymore?).
    Labbat Blue is still a regular in that mans beer fridge though, and not a bad beer in my experience
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  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,082) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, it had an overly-inflated, almost mythological rep in parts of the US, both before Molson exported it and after it was no longer available in the US. Lots of that was due to its then higher than normal ABV and the fact that the US labels were generally still unable to print alcohol content.

    I remember, even into the internet age, reading some guy's post in some beer news group or another, claiming it was something like 10 or 12% abv (Circa 1980, that would have been extremely high for any beer). When I cited contemporary sources and Canadian labels, he repeated some urban legend about how the US government asked Molson to lower the abv of the beer when it was sold within a certain distance from the US-Canadian border. :rolling_eyes:

    Anyway, in his 1982 Pocket Guide (US ed.), M. Jackson wrote of Brador:
    You little bastard! Oh, sorry... :wink:

    I remember the clerk at my neighborhood liquor store never let me carry my Dad's Ballantine Ale out of the store, even when it was in a plain paper bag. He said it was because the ABC might be watching but I suspect it was for this reason...
  32. Blogjackets

    Blogjackets Devotee (455) Nov 22, 2017 Ohio
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    When I moved near the Canadian border I learned that Canadian beer was not actually skunky. Where I grew up there was no such thing as fresh beer from any foreign country. We crossed the border to head to the Canadian distributors because the exchange rate was favorable, we could get fresh beer and, most importantly, the beer was stronger. Hard to imagine now but getting a high alcohol beer was extremely hard. Frankly that’s why my friend and I started brewing: get the taste we wanted (close anyway) at a higher ABV. John Courage kits anyone?
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  33. BJC

    BJC Initiate (183) Nov 9, 2002 New Jersey

    I remember drinking Brador in bars when visiting Quebec in the early 80's. In those days, taverns and brasseries sold draught while bars sold bottled beer and liquor. It was much more tasty than Molson Export, Labatt's 50 or O'Keefe.
  34. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,443) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois
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    Not only did I like Moosehead beer, but I convinced our 1990s era softball team that should be our team name.

  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,747) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Are you too young to remember the Moosehead Bar & Grill at the corner of Harrison and Wells?

    Not sure what their connection with the brewery was, but they always had the beer on tap -- though I almost always had their contract-brewed beer from Huber. Great live jazz and terrific chili too. :slight_smile:
  36. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,443) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois
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    Old enough, and I like jazz but unfortunately don't remember stopping in, even though I worked nearby (kitty corner from City Hall on LaSalle). I have been to Andy's, Pop's, and of course the Jazz Showcase before the move, among the many clubs over the years.

    Not sure if Moosehead beer is still available around here, but I may pick up a six pack if I come across one and it's reasonably fresh.

    Also, I am a fan of Monk's Pub chili, ate there quite a bit back in the day before they became a craft destination (still go if I'm downtown). It was great to be able to have a few pours at lunch during the workday.
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  37. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,747) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Andy's also had some good chili, but I can't recall what beers I drank there -- and I was getting into the better stuff, even though it was harder to find.

    FWIW -- I found some Moosehead a couple years back (up north here), just didn't excite me like it used to.
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  38. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,443) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois
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    Didn't know Andy's served chili, only consumed two products there. Whiskey on the rocks (to start), or neat (to close), backed at times by water or an occasional ginger ale. Didn't convert from whiskey to craft beer until the past five years.
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  39. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,747) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Yeah, the chili at Andy's was many moons ago -- had it at Jazz for Lunch many times, but I don't know if they even have a kitchen any more?

    Wonder what they did with the recipe...
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  40. tasterschoice62

    tasterschoice62 Poo-Bah (1,845) May 14, 2014 Rhode Island
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    In the late 80's and into 90's that was my beer. Here I am teaching one of my favorite rescue dogs how to drink beer.[​IMG]
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