Moosehead Brewery

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This article is about the brewery. For the lake, see Moosehead Lake.
Moosehead Breweries Limited
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1867
Founder The Oland's
Headquarters Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Products Beer
Owner Derek Oland

Moosehead (Moosehead Breweries Limited) is Canada's oldest independent brewery, located in Saint John, New Brunswick. The brewery was founded in 1867. Operated by the Oland family, now in the sixth generation of ownership under Derek Oland.

The Moosehead roster of beer consists of Moosehead Lager, Moosehead Light, Cracked Canoe, Alpine Lager, Alpine Light, Alpine Summit, Alpine Max, Moosehead Pale Ale, Clancy's Amber Ale, Moosehead Premium Dry Moosehead Dry Ice, Cold Filtered Light, Moosehead [RADLER] light beer & juice, and Boundary Ale. In 2003, Moosehead Lager won a Gold award at the World Beer Cup, and earned another at Monde Selection. However, Monde Selection awards are non-competitive and only products that pay to enter are judged.

Moosehead also produces under contract a number of international brands on behalf of four of the world's largest brewers. All brands of Moosehead have "Union Made" displayed on their labels, and in some cases, directly on the bottle.


Statue given by Moosehead Breweries to the people of Saint John, New Brunswick

In 1865, Susannah Oland moved from England to Nova Scotia, Canada. With her husband John and nine other employees, Susannah opened The Army and Navy Brewery in 1867, a name that came after their most appreciative customers.[1] After John Oland's untimely death in 1870, the brewery changed its name to S. Oland, Sons and Co. Over the next eight years, the brewery faced two fires, but recovered after each. In 1886, Susannah Oland died, and the company went to her two sons, Conrad and George. With the approach of the 20th century, the company changed its name to the Maritime Brewing & Malting Co. It faced hard times once again when the Halifax Explosion of 1917 killed Conrad Oland and destroyed the brewery. A year later, George Oland and his sons moved to Halifax and bought another brewery. In 1928, George bought a second, larger brewery in the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, site of the present day facility. In 1931, the symbol of the moose came into existence as George launched Moosehead Pale Ale. After the success of its Pale Ale, the Oland-owned brewery changed its name to Moosehead Breweries Ltd. in 1947. Thirty-one years later, in 1978, the brewery president Philip Oland expanded the brand and launched Moosehead Lager in the United States. In 1982, Derek Oland, former president of the company, expanded the company worldwide.

In his autobiography Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox relayed how he told Jay Leno as a guest on The Tonight Show, that he did not like American beer, describing it as 'too watery' and that he instead would drink Moosehead Ale. Not long afterwards, a huge truckload of Moosehead Ale made its way to Fox's house as a free gift from the company.[2]

Once a popular premium import beer in the United States, Moosehead lost vast market share in the 1980s when it lowered its price in an attempt to compete with larger US brewers on price instead of quality and prestige.[original research?][citation needed]

Today, Derek Oland's sons Andrew and Patrick are the sixth generation of Olands to own and work for the family brewery. Andrew is the current president. On April 30 of that year, Moosehead announced a redesigned look with updated logos for their flagship Moosehead Lager. A light green glow was added to "make the Moosehead logo more prominent and give the label a refreshing look." In addition, the "Lager" ribbon lettering was updated to give the brand a "premium look and feel." In December 2008, the brewery was named the official beer of the Canadian National Basketball Association.

Today, Moosehead sells its beer throughout Canada, the United States, and in 15 countries around the world. Moosehead USA has recently become its own importer, replacing its importing partner Gambrinus. Moosehead wholly owns the Niagara Falls Brewing Company in Ontario.

In 2008, Moosehead sold its minority interest in McAuslan Brewing to Les Brasseurs RJ. McAuslan will continue to brew and distribute Moosehead beer in the province of Quebec.[3]

Stolen batch[edit]

In August 2004 a truck driver transporting 60,000 cans of Moosehead beer to Mexico for a Mexican supermarket chain disappeared with the beer, leaving the nearly empty transport truck abandoned in a parking lot located in Grand Falls, New Brunswick. Easily identified by the Spanish writing on the labels (which is not common in the English/French speaking country of Canada) the beer was slowly tracked.[4]

The first signs of the missing beer showed up in Fredericton, New Brunswick, with two empty cans; another report of two cans were reported later in northern New Brunswick. Police working on a tip eventually found the truck driver in Ontario; earlier in the same week, police discovered nearly 8,000 cans of the stolen beer in a trailer that went off the road near Woodstock, New Brunswick.

With most of the beer recovered and the driver in custody,[5] the police in the New Brunswick area began to look in wooded areas for the remaining beer. Knowing the area in which the police were looking, many civilians took up the search as well. Because of the media attention on the story almost all of the beer was quickly found by civilians and police, and most of it was returned to Moosehead Breweries.

The final piece of the story occurred in October 2004 when 200 cans of the stolen beer were found at a marijuana growing operation in the forest near Doaktown, New Brunswick about 100 kilometres northeast of Fredericton.[6] "Six of the cans were discovered with bite marks in them indicating a bear had, at one point, been into the beer," the RCMP said in a news release. The release said there was no sign of either the animal or the people who had stashed the beer.[7]

The unique and quirky nature of this crime story made international headlines and resulted in publicity for Moosehead; it has also been the basis of a book.

Second stolen batch[edit]

In September 2007, two tractor trailers carrying 77,000 cans and 44,000 bottles with a reported retail value of $200,000 were stolen from a transport company in Mississauga, Ontario. Peel Region police arrested a man from Vaughan, Ontario during the first week of October 2007 and charged him with possession of stolen property.[8] Police believe he is responsible for the theft and of selling the beer to bars and after-hours clubs and that he may not have worked alone.


Moosehead, its subsidiary The Premium Beer Company, and the McAuslan Brewery brew/market the following beverages:

  • Moosehead Lager
  • Moosehead Light
  • Moosehead Light (Radler)
  • Moosehead Light Ginger
  • Moosehead Light Lime
  • Moosehead Light Blackberry
  • Moosehead Pale Ale
  • Moosehead Premium Dry
  • Moosehead Dry Ice
  • Alpine Lager
  • Alpine Light
  • Clancy's Amber Ale
  • Cold Filtered Light
  • Cracked Canoe
  • Guinness (until June 2015)[9]
  • Sam Adams' Boston Lager (for the Canadian market)
  • Sam Adams' Octoberfest
  • Sam Adams' Summer Ale
  • Sam Adams' Winter Lager
  • Boris Beer
  • Boris Bold
  • Boris Slam
  • Boris Malt Based Cooler
  • Boris Organic
  • Magners Original Irish Cider
  • Caledonian 80
  • Boundary Ale
  • Deuchars IPA

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Moosehead Breweries Limited". Beer Canada. 
  2. ^ Michael J. Fox (9 April 2003). Lucky Man: A Memoir. Hyperion. pp. 88–. ISBN 978-1-4013-9779-1. Once, on the Tonight show, Jay Leno asked me how I liked living in the States, "It's great. Except for the beer. American beer's a little watery," I confided. "So I drink Moosehead Ale, imported from Canada." A week later, sitting at my kitchen table, I heard the grinding of a large vehicle laboring up my driveway. Drawing aside the curtain, I peered out the window to see a green beer delivery truck with the giant Moosehead logo painted on the side. "There's lots more where this came from," the delivery guy said, handing me a business card. "Just give us a call when you run out." 
  3. ^ RJ Brewers and Mcauslan Brewing: a new partnership. CNW. June 4, 2008.
  4. ^ "N.B. residents scour countryside for stolen beer". CBC News. August 31, 2004. 
  5. ^ "Police find missing beer truck driver". CBC News. August 25, 2004. 
  6. ^ About Us. The Village of Doaktown.
  7. ^ "Bear breaks into stolen beer cache". CBC News. October 22, 2004. 
  8. ^ "Man arrested in Moosehead beer theft". CBC News. October 5, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Moosehead to lay off 70 employees at Saint John brewery". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. CBC News. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°58′41.26″N 65°24′40.47″W / 44.9781278°N 65.4112417°W / 44.9781278; -65.4112417