photos by aonghus kealy/metro toronto


Moosehead’s family of beer, which sits in the lobby at the front of the brewery in Saint John.

This is the first part of a two-part series on Moosehead. Suds enjoyed a tour of the company’s Saint John, N.B., brewery in October. More on Moose next week in Metro Toronto and at

According to Moosehead executive chairman Derek Oland, the moose is the “king of all animals.”

The regal appearance of the animal’s antlers was the reason his father Philip named the brewery Moosehead, quite the prominent animal in New Brunswick and today, the brewery is the undisputed king of Canadian brewing.

A statue of a moosehead sits in an office area of the Moosehead brewery in Saint John, N.B. The beer was named after "the king of all animals," by former Moosehead boss Philip Oland, said his son, current executive chairman Derek.

Well, um, make that undisputed fully-Canadian owned king of brewing. It’s kinda like holding just the WBO belt (when asked, Oland says their won’t be a reunification of the belts any time soon; a sixth generation of Oland now works at the brewery).

Holding the title of Canada’s largest independent brewer — just don’t say “largest Canadian brewer” to any beer industry type, or someone will have a fit — has rankled at least one Molson exec.

“I must admit,” the exec wrote in an e-mail a while back, “being here at Molson ... Canada's and North America's oldest continuous brewery since 1786 and still family directed ... I get a little smile on their ‘independent’ positioning.”

See what I mean?

Molson, Labatt and Sleeman — known in Ontario as The Big Three for their joint ownership of the Beer Store — are controlled by brewing giants Miller Coors (United States), InBev (Brazil and Belgium) and Sapporo (Japan), so none of the Canadian-based macrobrewers can lay an undisputed claim to being the largest Canadian brewer either.

Moosehead first fired up a kettle in 1867, and moved to the now Moosehead-dominated Saint John, N.B., in 1928, after the Halifax Explosion destroyed their original brewery. There is no disputing the presence of Moose — as in, “I’ll have a Moose” — in the Saint John and New Brunswick — at the airport, outside of pubs, on draught, you’ll find many of the company’s 17 brands and branding, including Moosehead Pale Ale (red instead of trademark green surrounds the antlered beast on the labelling) and Alpine, drinks we don’t see in Ontario.

New Brunswick is one of the uncharted bastions that Molson has targeted, opening a $35-million brewery in Moncton last month, the first new brewery to open in the province in 52 years.

Mooshead President Steve Poirier cozies up to a bottle of Moosehead at the Saint John Ale House recently in Saint John, N.B.

Winning over beer drinkers is a tough business, and Moose chairman andPresident Steve Poirier says his company knows exactly what and how to sell their beer to East Coast folks.

“We have a better feeling for what the Maritimer consumer wants,” Poirier told Suds. “Maritimers really don’t drink microbrews (or imports). Martimers are looking for something a little more traditional.”

In light of the Coors’ merger with Miller in the U.S., Molson has a lot of more to deal with than just breaking into Moose territory, Poirier says.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen, but they all seem to agree it’s not beneficial for Molson.”

Moose is no stranger to mergers. The company scooped up the Niagara Brewing Company in Niagara Falls and are part owner of Brasserie McAuslan in Montreal, strategic partnerships, Poirier says, so their beer can be shipped west to Ontario and Quebec respectively.

Don’t expect them to buy up many more across Canada, unless they can determine that they’re profitable. Poirier says “95 per cent” of the micros in Ontario are not.

“We’ve had many microbreweries, that have called us to ask us to buy them. You have exceptions, like Steam Whistle. They’re really an exception.”

Microbreweries have trouble breaking past the “50-mile radius,” Poirier says.

Microbrews aren’t a big part of Moose’s business, but some of the big boys you know are.

About half of the 1.4 million hectalitres (about 420,000,000 330-ml bottles) the brewery makes is for five big brands — you likely know all of them, both domestic and import brews, much of that for export.

The flagship lager comprises about one-quarter of what’s made at the brewery each year.

Next week: Tasting and touring with Moosehead brewmaster Darrell Little.


Clancy’s Marinated Tenderloin With Ale-Battered Onion Rings


  • Four 8-oz. beef tenderloins

  • 20 g finely diced carrots

  • 20 g finely diced celery

  • 40 g finely diced onions

  • 5 g fresh thyme

  • 700 ml Clancy’s Amber Ale

  • 5 g fresh green coriander seeds

  • 2 large red onions

  • 100 g pancake batter

  • 100 ml Clancy’s Amber Ale (for the batter)

  • Flour for dredging

  • Salt and pepper

  • Oil for frying


STEP 1: For the marinade sweat carrots, celery, onions, and fresh coriander seeds.

STEP 2: Deglaze with the Clancy’s Amber Ale and bring to a boil to cook off the alcohol. Take marinade place into a none reactive dish and cool in a frig until 4C

STEP 3: For Tenderloins, place in marinade for 1-2 hours or vacuum seal them with the marinade.

STEP 4: Before cooking, dry off tenderloins, and season with salt and pepper.

STEP 5: Then grill over high heat until med rare. (Don’t be afraid to splash a little Clancy’s over them while they are cooking!)

STEP 6: For the onion rings make a batter with the pancake mix and Ale.

STEP 7: Slice onions into thin rings and dredge in seasoned flour.

STEP 8: Dip rings into batter mix and fry in 350C degree oil till crisp. Place tenderloin on plate with onions stacked to the side.

Mussels Steamed in Moosehead


  • 300 ml Moosehead; 5 g sliced garlic; 5 g fresh coriander seeds; 1 kg fresh mussels; 10 g sliced green onion; 5 ml olive oil Salt and pepper to taste


STEP 1: Add oil to a pot over medium high heat. Sweat garlic and coriander until fragrant.

STEP 2: Add mussels to pot, pour in pale ale, season with salt and pepper then turn up heat and cover. Mussels should be done in 3 to 4 minutes.

STEP 3: Place mussels in bowls then pour broth over top and garnish with green onions. Serve with some crusty beer bread to dip in the broth. courtesy of Jesse