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Bennett Brewing’s ‘Newfoundland Songs’

During the period that followed the Second World War, beer advertising became big business. Across North America, brewers jockeyed for the beer dollars of the rapidly growing cohort of baby boomers by illustrating how their beers were part of a healthy image of domesticity or a youthful and active product. In Newfoundland, however, one of the most successful kinds of advertising was the songbook. Newfoundland Songs, published in ten editions between 1950 and 1977, showcased the songs of Newfoundland to sell cases of Dominion Ale. Found within cases of Bennett Brewing and later (after 1962) Carling O’Keefe products, the songbook played with nostalgia write the Bennett brand deeper into Newfoundland’s history.

Cover of Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition).

Cover of Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition).

A match book from the Bennett Brewing Company (1960s)

A match book from the Bennett Brewing Company (1960s) showing their short-lived Rainbow Beer.

In their 1978 article in the journal Culture and Tradition, folklorists Paul Mercer and Mac Swackhammer provide a good cultural history of the songbook. They argue, not unlike today’s nostalgia macros, songbooks were the continuation of a long process of appealing to “the present ‘modern’ generation to participate with pride in these aspects of the good-old-days” (36). Songbooks have long been a useful way for marketers to make their advertisements last longer. Publish an advertisement in a paper and you’ll likely be seen for a day, make your advertisement a part of a culture of singing and ensure your book is valuable and circulated around rural outports, and you’ll be seen for generations. Ask around a well-kept outport home where music was a part of their tradition and you’ll likely find a well worn Dominion or Bennett Songbook.

Mercer and Swackhammer outline a long history of these songbooks, where advertisements were even included as songs, however, since they have well covered the evolution of this art in Newfoundland, I’ll leave that aspect for them. We’ll pick up the story with Gerald S. Doyle. Doyle was a travelling salesman who circulated almanacs and songbooks advertising for the A. W. Chase medicine company. But Doyle was also a collector of Newfoundland songs who published his collection in free books found at his drug outlets throughout the island.

An older (pre-1962) label for Bennett Haig Ale. At the time of the songbooks, it would have been switched to the iconic blue label.

An older (pre-1962) label for Bennett Haig Ale. At the time of the songbooks, it would have been switched to the iconic blue label.

The Bennett Brewing Company aimed to emulate Doyle’s success and “began to publish its own books, modelled on and copied from Doyle’s” (39). Bennett Brewing extended upon Doyle’s advertising rhetoric by making their beer more deeply implicated within the traditional material they were transmitting. They also played upon their history within the province as “The oldest manufacturing industry in Newfoundland” by putting their own history as the frontispiece or centrepiece of the songbook. Adorned with lines like “A Newfoundland Tradition, HAIG ALE” and “A rainbow at night… A sailor’s Delight, Not only at night, Rainbow Beer is always a delight,” Mercer and Swackhammer argue that Bennett carefully aligned the good times and singing offered by the songs in the book with the product they were selling.

Interestingly, they note that when Bennett Brewing was purchased by Carling O’Keefe in 1962 there was a change in the style of the songbooks. After the purchase, they argue, the songbooks “no longer reflected a Newfoundland self-consciousness, but a mainland conception of Newfie-ism designed to sell beer.” The songbooks I have from 1974 and 1977 (an partially aimed at tourists visiting Newfoundland for the 1977 Canadian Summer Games), show some of the characters and distinctions Mercer and Swackhammer point out, but I think they are perhaps a little too strong in their “mainland conception” argument, as we will now see.

Cover of the Eighth Edition of Newfoundland Songs

Cover of the Eighth Edition of Newfoundland Songs

The Eighth Edition from the early 1970s sticks more to the “wrapper ads” style, with advertisements for Domion Ale, “A great Newfoundland tradition,” O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock (an O’Keefe brand that lasted in Newfoundland until the 2000s), Old Vienna (another O’Keefe brand no longer found in Newfoundland), and Black Horse (yet another O’Keefe brand which made no allusions to being from Newfoundland). The Domion Ale ad is particularly interesting:

Dominion Ad from Newfoundland Songs (8th Edition)

Dominion Ad from Newfoundland Songs (8th Edition)

The copy reads:

There’s something really different about the first time you sit down to enjoy a Dominion. One look at it tells you to get ready for a satisfying, ‘all male’ taste.

Dominion’s brewed high on the hops to give you a true, distinctive, ‘for men only’ flavour. It’s the proud product of over 140 years brewing skill. A great Newfoundland tradition.

That’s why the men who know beer best consider Dominion an old friend. It you haven’t uncapped a Dominion in a while, why not make a new friend out of an old friend?

Enjoy a Dominion Ale. You’ll know you’re having one.

Besides being overtly masculine, “You’ll know you’re having one” has to be the worst tag line in any beer advertisement ever. Though perhaps it’s better than some modern beers where you almost don’t know if you’re having one. The foreword and acknowledgement outline a little more of what was outlined above. It reads:

Foreword
The colourful history and tradition of Newfoundland are perpetuated in the songs of her people. In this collection of favourites we glimpse the daily lives of the hardy, happy folk who tackled heavy seas and rocky soil with a rich sense of humour.
Today their songs are sung with pride by Newfoundlanders who delight in fond recollection of the days gone by and by others simply for fun and amusement.
The Bennett Brewing Company takes great pleasure in presenting this eighth edition of our little songbook. Like our products, it is purely for your pleasure.

Acknowledgement
We gratefully thank Gerald S. Doyle Limited for the use of their publication “The Gerald S. Doyle Song Book” from which we obtained the words to the songs in this book.
In doing so, we salute the memory of that great Newfoundlander, Gerald S. Doyle, who devoted so much of his time to collecting and perpetuating the songs of his beloved island home.

The songs featured included:

Table of Contents, Newfoundland Songbook (8th Edition)

Table of Contents, Newfoundland Songbook (8th Edition)

The illustrations in the eighth edition are minimal. Directly in the middle of the book there is an account of the history of the Bennett Brewing Company which I plan to transcribe elsewhere. The following edition, the ninth edition from 1974, was printed on heavy stock paper and remembered with nostalgia Newfoundland’s entry into confederation 25 years earlier.

Cover of Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition).

Cover of Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition)

George Tilley, the provincial general manager of Bennett Brewing (then a subsidiary of Carling-O’Keefe) welcomed readers:

Introduction to Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition)

Introduction to Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition)

The song-list had indeed been updated to reflect the new songs by Dick Nolan. The contents now included:

Contents of Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition)

Contents of Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition)

The “Dominion Coaster Offer” discusses the set of coasters I talk about elsewhere. Surprisingly, the book itself has little to do with selling beer and there is little brand-tie-in, even in Dick Nolan’s “Liquor Book” where only screech is mentioned by name. I find that Mercer’s and Swackhammer’s accusations of these being overtly mainland interpretations of Newfoundland in this edition to be a little strong. The only proper beer advertisement in the book is the below one for Black Horse (perhaps because it was a national brand, so the book could be sold on the mainland), but there is little about the ad which references Newfoundland. Even the cartoon, one of the many done by Ted Michener for Carling-O’Keefe at this time, is more Canadian than Newfoundland-focused.

Black Horse Ad in Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition)

Black Horse Ad in Newfoundland Songs (9th Edition)

The 1977 tenth edition of Newfoundland Songs was the last and is also one of the more common examples to still find around Newfoundland today. They, like the ninth edition, can sometimes still be found at used book stores for somewhere under $15.

Cover of Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

Cover of Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

While in a slightly slimmer format than the previous editions, it was still found in cases of beer and featured some of the most detailed illustrations of any version of the songbook.

Illustrations from Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

Illustrations from Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

 

Back cover of Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

Back cover of Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

It’s hard to choose just a few of these pages to reproduce here, since they all have at least some kind of illustration. (If you are interested in higher quality images, I have copies of the original songbooks.) There is very little to do with beer advertising in this final version. Except for the “A bit of our past to put under your glass” coaster advertisement, there was almost nothing else to show the products of Carling O’Keefe as responsible for the songbook. The final page included a simple ad for “Dominion Ale: A Newfoundland Tradition” and the final pages included, as always, a little historical snippet of the history of the Bennett Brewery.

Coaster offer in Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

Coaster offer in Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition). These coasters now cost much more!

 

Last pages and Bennett History in Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

Last pages and Bennett History in Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

Of the songbooks, I think this final tenth edition is the one with the most character. It contains most of the songs found in previous editions (including the Dick Nolan ones introduced in the ninth edition), but because of its pocket size and really wonderful illustrations, it’s really something special. Some of the songs even include music notion, which was not found in many of the older editions.

Some songs featured musical notion in the 10th Edition of Newfoundland Songs.

Some songs featured musical notion in the 10th Edition of Newfoundland Songs. Nice bell-bottoms!

Mercer’s and Swackhammer’s article was published in 1978 which is almost as far away from us today (almost 40 years) as Doyle’s first songbooks were from them. Their work, as folklorists, aimed to unmask the “simplistic view of the past” as presented in these songbooks, to uncover how “a living tradition has been made iconic, reduced to jargon, and put to work for commercial purposes” (45). 1977 was the last year the Bennett Songbook was published and it is worth reflecting now on what has been lost in the absence of even this “potentially harmful symbolization of folklore.” The songbooks, while their content and presentation may have been invented, are an important part of the folklore of beer in Newfoundland. The traditions they carry as material culture being passed around and as items representing breweries now gone (both Bennett, Carling O’Keefe, and the physical Sudbury Street brewery), has real meaning beyond their “symbol and jargon.” These songbooks, beyond their value as trinkets or artifacts of a commercial culture, are important documents in Newfoundland’s Beer History.

Image from Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

Image from Newfoundland Songs (10th Edition)

References: Paul Mercer and Mac Swackhammer, “’The singing of old Newfoundland Ballads and a cool glass of good beer go hand in hand’: Folklore and ‘tradition’ in Newfoundland Advertising,” Culture & Tradition 3 (1978) 36-45.

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The Rooms Showcases Newfoundland Beer

I was flicking through the latest issues of Occasions Magazine from the NLC and noticed that The Rooms, a Newfoundland cultural centre which combines art and museum displays, was featuring a collection of Newfoundland consumer and popular items. The collection, “Here, We Made a Home,” is currently running in the Elinor Gill Rarcliffe Gallery on the fourth level and features a small collection of Newfoundland Breweriana.

Here is quick photo of the main exhibit’s feature of Newfoundland beer bottles, “An Honest Uncomplicated Brew.”

Taken at The Rooms, 2013.

Taken at The Rooms, 2013.

Readers of this blog will likely get the reference made by the title of the collection, which refers to a Jockey Club label from the 1970s/80s. It’s a subtle reference, but a nice one.

Jockey Club, circa late 1960s

Jockey Club, circa late 1960s

The collection features both a recent bottle of Quidi Vidi Light and Yellowbelly Pale Ale (I joke that both could have come from the NLC location visible from The Rooms upper floors) and two old India Beer Bottles, as well as a Dominion Ale bottle. They date both the larger bottles to early-1900s and the stubby to mid-1900s.

Advertisement for The Rooms, Occasions Magazine, Fall 2013.

Advertisement for The Rooms, Occasions Magazine, Fall 2013.

Not to be outdone, when I got home I decided to stage up a few bottles of my own in the same ordering. Can you spot the differences?

NLBeerHistory Colleciton

NLBeerHistory Collection

A few differences are obvious, the big one being I don’t have a India Beer stubby though I think the Blue Star is a nice substitute. The India Beer bottle featured here in our photo is a new one from the collection of Capt. Don Winsor which was donated by Matthew Beverley. I’ll have a longer post on a few others he donated soon!

The is clearly much more Newfoundland history on display in the “Here, We Made a Home,” collection which is very much worth discussing and viewing. If you’re in town, it’s very much worth checking out!

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Notes on Some Beermats

Beermats are an under appreciated art form. So under appreciated, in fact, that I had almost forgotten I had been working on collecting together a few Newfoundland Beermats. Sitting down last night with Nicholas Pashley’s Notes on a Beermat finally jogged my memory and, well, here we are. Apologies to Mr. Pashley for the title.

In this post I have two sets of Beermats to share. One is a great set of Black Horse mats produced for the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s “discovery” of Newfoundland in 1997 shared with me by Steve Shorlin and the other is an older set from Bennett Brewing which I purchased last summer. Both sets partake in something that is quite common in beer advertising, but worth noting again here. They both try to build themselves into Newfoundland’s history and sense of place.

The historians E. J. Hobsbawm and T. O. Ranger have called this kind of marketing (for the lack of a better work) move as an “invented tradition.” A tradition is invented, they argue, when something seeks to come off as very old – something that tries to write itself into the past – without actually being very old at all. They cite the kilt as a primary example, which, they argue, was built into Scottish culture in the 1800s by English fabric merchants. That’s their argument, not mine! For a less controversial point, let’s look at some Black Horse Coasters.

Photo from Steve Shorlin, newfoundlandsteve on Flickr, 2013.

“The Unofficial Brew of Cabot’s Crew” series of coasters snuck the iconic Black Horse into various Newfoundland scenes like (above) in Bonavista and (below) on top of Cabot Tower on Signal Hill.

Steve Shorlin, 2013.

The Black Horse, it seems, has been everywhere in Newfoundland! From an iceberg in Twillingate to playing coxswain in the St. John’s Regatta.

Steve Shorlin, 2013.

Steve Shorlin, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This series was accompanied with a slogan “500 Years of Horsin’ Around” where Black Horse did its part to provide Newfoundland pub trivia and language lessons.

Steve Shorlin, 2013

Steve Shorlin, 2013.

Steve has more of these over on his Flickr, so if you like them you can find a few more there. Now, back to what I was saying about “invented traditions.” As readers of this blog know, Black Horse was a major mainland brand for many years, so having a brand so associated with Newfoundland’s past strikes me as inventing the tradition of Newfoundland Black Horse. Black Horse was, as these beermats attempt to prove, not just another brand: it was a Newfoundland brand, through and through. (The Thoroughbred!)

These pictures were also on Black Horse bottles. Steve Shorlin, 2013.

The idea of an “invented tradition” works better when we get to the Bennett Brewing coasters. I’m just going to post all 6 coasters now and we’ll get back to talking about them after.

Coaster_Cover

This is the image on the back of each beermat. Chris Conway, 2013.

Coaster_5

For more, see here.

Coaster_4

For more see here.

Coaster_3

I maintain he was out there geocaching.

Coaster_6 Coaster_2 Coaster_1

With all the talk of “Newfoundland tradition” in the coasters, and the line “Bennett relives Newfoundland’s past,” it’s a little easier to see what I’m trying to get at with the “invented tradition” thing. I doubt many of the stories actually ended with a Bennett Beer or that Bennet Beer was that widely available at the time. Most of the stories seem to be based off the ones found in the The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories, which itself was produced by Maple Leaf Mills Limited (now just Maple Leaf). The coasters were sold in a pack of 6, as we can see from the advertisement below from the Dominion Ale Songbook (of which I have more to say on in another post).

Coasters (10)

If I ever make an NL Beer History beermat, it will steal that line: “A bit of our past to put under your glass.”

“A real collector’s item” indeed! I picked my set up, still in their plastic wrap, in St. John’s last summer. I sadly had to open the pack to scan them, which I guess is for the greater good. It seems, since we don’t have the stories listed in the advertisement, that there is another set, or at least another few, coasters out there which I’d love to track down. Either way, the stories and the images (by cartoonist Ted Michener) are pretty fantastic.

Beer seems to be one of those things that always wants to make itself more familiar to its drinker. Breweries strive to make their beer one that has a sense of place even if it’s owned by Carling O’Keefe (as Dominion was in the 1970s) or Molson (as Black Horse was in the late 1990s). Where Dominion’s advertisements seemed aimed at regaining local confidence and their Newfoundland identity after their takeover by a multi-national, Black Horse’s seem to represent a beer trying to become the icon of Newfoundland. Both worked to etch themselves into the culture of Newfoundland through carefully purveying history alongside with their beer. Of course, the result of tradition-inventing are brands which did take on real meaning – and which already had real meaning – to many drinkers. For me, a big part of the fun of history is finding out how these meanings came into being.

 

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Any Mummer’s ‘Lowed in?

Hark, what’s that noise, out by the porch door?
Dear Granny, there’s mummers, there’s twenty or more.
Her old weathered face lightens up with a grin.
“Any mummers, nice mummers ‘lowed in?”

It’s Christmas time in Newfoundland and I’m home for the holidays, which means drinking lots of Newfoundland Christmas beer.

Yellowbelly at Christmas - Photo Credit to Joyce Conway

Yellowbelly at Christmas – Photo Credit to Joyce Conway

Fortunately for craft beer drinkers, two of Newfoundland’s craft breweries have recently started producing seasonal ales for the holidays. Quidi Vidi began producing their Mummer’s Brew (an rich Amber Ale) several years ago.

Mummers

The Original Label for Quidi Vidi Mummer’s Brew

Originally featuring a Newfoundland Mummer’s party – a night of dressing up and touring around the community dancing, drinking, and playing music – the label has now been modernized to fit in with their new streamlined packing design. Its available on tap at a few places in the city (I’ve had it at Christian’s on George and the Duke of Duckworth so far) and it’s also in 6-packs at NLC locations and at the brewery (which is also beautifully decorated for Christmas)!

Mummers_Brew

The other seasonal beer brewed up for Christmas is Yellowbelly’s Mummer’s Brew. I know – I know – there are only three craft breweries in Newfoundland and two of those three have made a Christmas seasonal with the same name… Go figure!

Yellowbelly Mummer's Brew, 2012.

Yellowbelly Mummer’s Brew, 2012.

Yellowbelly’s Mummer’s Brew first appeared in 2011 when it was a quite tasty spiced Winter Ale. This year (2012) it has changed to a 7% Chocolate Porter. Its available down at the brewery on tap and in bottles, which you can also find at NLC locations.

The Washington Post; Dec 10, 1947.

The Washington Post; Dec 10, 1947.

I should mention that Storm’s Coffee Porter has long been a Christmas tradition for me. It’s their Winter seasonal! (See my post on Storm for more about them!)

Oh, I suppose you fine mummers would turn down a drop,
Of homebrew or alky, whatever you got.
Sure the one with his rubber boots on the wrong feet,
needs enough for to do him all week.

As the first year comes to a close for the Newfoundland Beer History Project, I’d like to say thank you for everyone that’s shown encouragement for this project and who has shared in my interest in learning about Newfoundland’s beer history! Over 10,000 people have checked out this blog in this first year and I’ve got a lot more planned for the future. I hope the holidays treat everyone well and that good beer can find you where ever you are!

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The Evolution of Blue Star

I have been going through some pictures I took (well, had taken) of my NL beer bottle collection and I noticed that I had a great lineage of Blue Star bottles. So, why not take a look at how they’ve changed over the years?

The oldest one I have is from the 1960s:

1960s Blue Star Bottle, my collection

It’s a heavy bottomed glass bottle (thicker than today’s vintage, unless you drink Steamwhistle) with a shiny gold label. It’s the same label I have over on the overview, but this one is still attached to the bottle, which is a plus! It’s still from the Bavarian Brewing era, so it’s likely from sometime prior to, or just slightly after, 1962.

1970s Blue Star Stubby, my collection

This bottle is likely from the 1970s, the era of the stubby. The label hasn’t changed too much, but the red strip has moved into the background and the tag line “The Star of Newfoundland” has been added. It still has the iconic “Gold Medal of Leadership” from Munich in 1954 which is now, as it was then, a pretty cheesy thing to put on a beer bottle.

Blue Star (early 1980s) at the Duke of Duckworth, St. John’s. (2012)

In a longer post I discussed this Blue Star bottle, still full of beer, that’s at the Duke of Duckworth in St. John’s. I dated it from the early 1980s, near the end of the stubby era, because it was kept at the bar (I figured they kept it as a novelty once stubbys became more rare). My dating here is guesswork, so I’m not sure when the phrase “The Sportsman’s Friend” came into use. Was “The Star of Newfoundland” first, or was it “The Sportsman’s Friend?” Right now, I’m not sure. I sure do wish I had a copy that said “The Sportsman’s Friend” though!

Three 1980s Blue Star bottles, my collection.

Continuing into the 1980s we see that Blue Star, out of the stubby phase, is now into more common looking Newfoundland short necks. These are embossed with “Labatt” and were found in a shed in New Chelsea in the Summer of 2012 (thanks to Keith Cooke!). They’re in rough shape, but they show the same kind of label design as before, with the red strip and the bright blue star. They do look very 80s though, don’t they?

2012 Blue Star bottle, my collection.

Which brings us to today. The 2012 version of the bottle, which uses a design from the early 1990s,  has the red stripe from the background transformed into Christopher Pratt’s Newfoundland provincial flag. The gold border has been replaced with the gold of the arrow in the flag (pointing to a “brighter future“) and the star has received some stylistic shading.

There is an interesting study on the rebranding of Blue Star in the early nineties which states that:

At that time, there was only one other product that had positioned itself as an indigenous brand of beer and that was Molson’s Black Horse. Its advertising focused on young beer drinkers and their lifestyles as students, partygoers, nightlife enthusiasts and so on – it was the Molson Canadian of Newfoundland. It should be noted that while Black Horse was known to be local in origin, the advertising was seen by many to be an imitation of mainstream North American beer advertising. As a result, this gave Labatt an opportunity to reposition Blue Star as the true local brew, with a positioning statement for Blue Star best expressed as: ‘Blue Star is the ultimate Newfoundland beer, for Newfoundlanders, by Newfoundlanders’.

Employing advertising firm Vaughn Whelan & Partners Advertising Inc,

Blue Star was positioned as ‘The Shining Star Of The Granite Planet’, a copy line that embraces the beers’ quality, its local origins, and stresses the ironic sense of humour. Tactically, we wanted to be as different from Black Horse as possible: humour versus music, radio versus TV, local versus mainland imagery. Creatively, the radio spots played up the local sense of humour and downplayed the beverage qualities. The commercials had the tag line ‘Blue Star, The Shining Star Of The Granite Planet’.

They conclude:

Together, Blue Star and Blue Star Glacier Cold are now slowly but surely chipping away at Molson’s  dominance in Newfoundland’s young adult market, while spending only a fraction of what the competition  does, and not cannibalizing other Labatt brands.

Blue Star Glacier Cold? It was one of those “ice” early-90s fad beers. What did it look like? This website has an image, but, from what I understand, it was a short lived product (really, any beer advertising itself as pasteurized has lost my confidence).

That brings us through the aesthetic changes to Blue Star over the last 50 years. Did the taste change? Did the quality? Those are much harder questions to answer. A diehard Blue Star drinker might not notice subtle changes over many years, while other might just say it always wasn’t very good (non-Blue Star drinkers, obviously). That’s the tricky thing about beer history, it’s a temporary product which leaves little trace. Even bottles rarely survive. Remember to enjoy the beers you enjoy now, for who knows how history will treat them.

Blue Star Evolution, 1960s to 2012. My collection.

Bonus! From youtube user lambchops71, a radio add from the early 1990s “shining star” series.

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The Duke of Duckworth and Blue Star

The Duke of Duckworth is one of my favorite places to drink when I’m in St. John’s, not only because they have a killer fish and chips, but because they have a great selection of local taps and a great collection of beer history memorabilia.

The Duke’s Own Sign, 2012

If you’re new to Newfoundland beer, the Duke is a must visit. They’ve usually got everything that’s currently being brewed by Storm Brewing, a few Quidi Vidi (in particular 1892), and – and this is special – the Duke’s Own. The Duke’s Own, advertised as a “private collection of uniquely brewed beer” and “Newfoundland’s Pioneer Brewpub,” is the closest to an English Ale you’re going to find being brewed in Newfoundland. While the signs seem to indicate there used to be a range of Duke’s beer, today there is only one: The Duke’s Own (an English Ale).

Here’s the deal to the best of my knowledge. The Duke used to have a very small (nano) brewery in their basement but were forced to close it to either expand their kitchen or install a women’s bathroom (accounts differ). Either way, if you ask the bartenders today they’ll tell you it’s contract brewed out of Storm brewing in Mount Pearl. They are very clear though, it’s not a Storm beer – it’s their recipe and ingredients – Storm is just the contract brewer.

The Duke of Duckworth is great for local beer selection, but they also have a great collection of beer memorabilia. They have old Tetley’s beer signs and signs for Upper Canada Dark prior to Upper Canada selling their brewery to Sleeman and converting their brands into discout beers (the brewers from Upper Canada ended up being fired and started up 3 Fired Guys brewing, better known as Steamwhistle in downtown Toronto). One piece of memorabilia that’s important for me is this fine specimen:

Blue Star (early 1980s) at the Duke of Duckworth, St. John’s. (2012)

Behind the bar (pretty much behind the Storm taps) stands this old Blue Star “The Sportsmans Friend” bottle. As I was looking at it to find the vintage, it says Labatt on the side and the stubby was phased out in the mid-1980s so it’s likely from the early 1980s, I noticed that the cap was with it.

Blue Star Cap

Then I noticed something, the cap wasn’t just replaced on the top of the bottle: it was an unopened bottle of Blue Star! You can see the beer line in the above photo. Now, they didn’t seem ready to part with it, but this is an amazing find. A bottle of Newfoundland beer that’s likely over 30 years old. I’d have to fight to urge to drink it! Anyway, if you’re in town and interested in Newfoundland’s beer history, ask to see this lovely bottle.

There is also an (opened) stubby of O’Keefe’s Extra Old Stock, but that’s a mainland brand and not really my focus here. I’m sure there are other NL beer history treasures at the Duke, so be sure to search them out when you’re there!

Below, as a closing note, is the Duke’s account of their microbrewery and the brewing process. You can see this poster yourself on your way to the Duke’s downstairs bathrooms.

The Duke’s Own Microbrew History

The Duke’s Own Process

The Brewing Process

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The Patriotic India Pale Ale

I was poking through some old issues of The Newfoundland Quarterly from WWII this morning and I found a really great advertisement for Newfoundland Breweries’ India Pale Ale. It boasts that 90% of the malts and hops used in the India Pale Ale are still from Brittan and that drinking IPA is your patriotic duty. Demand it!

From The Newfoundland Quarterly, Volume 40, Issue 2, Autumn 1940.

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