Category Archives: Bennett Brewing

Some Quirky Old Brands

I was re-watching a youtube compilation of old Newfoundland beer labels this morning and I realized that searching for them online didn’t bring up any results. Anyone looking for a history of Bavarian Brewing’s Bulldog beer would be totally out of luck. Here, I’m going to list a few of the brands highlighted in the video.

The original video can be watched here on YouTube. It’s not my content and I did not make the video, so don’t blame me if you don’t like the song they use!

From Bavarian Brewing Company we have Bulldog Newfoundland Style Beer, the Silver Doctor Summer Special, an Irish Style Porter, and their Three Star Lager. I’m guessing the Bulldog would be an ale, but I have no idea about the Silver Doctor. Sounds good!

Bull Dog Newfoundland Style (Bavarian Brewing)

Bulldog (Bavarian Brewing)

Silver Doctor Summer Special (Bavarian Brewing)

Three Star Lager (Bavarian Brewing)

Irish Style Porter (Bavarian Brewing)

From Newfoundland Brewing we have Moose Pale Ale, their Old Stock India Pale Ale, “India’s Holiday Bock Beer,” and a Red Top Golden Amber. These all sound amazing. Moose Pale Ale! How Newfoundland is that? Plus another India Pale Ale, an amazing 8% bock (a dark German spring beer), and an amber ale! What a line up!

Moose Pale Ale (Newfoundland Brewing)

India Pale Ale (Newfoundland Brewery)

India’s Holiday Bock Beer (Newfoundland Brewing) – 8%!

Red Top Golden Amber Beer (Newfoundland Brewery)

From Bennett Brewing we’re just missing Bennett’s beer. I love that green-and-black colour combination.

Bennett’s Beer (Bennett Brewery)

From the short lived Bison Brewing (in Stephenville) we have their flagship beer, Bison Beer.

Bison Brew Beer (Bison Brewing)

While they are harder to find, it’s important to remember that these old breweries didn’t just produce the scattered few brands that the big Canadian Breweries kept after 1962. They had a full line of beers for all sorts of different preferences. Plus, they are really beautiful labels!

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Filed under Atlantic Brewery, Bavarian Brewing, Bennett Brewing, Labels, Newfoundland Brewery, Other Brewers

The Big Three of Bennett

Bennett Brewing was one of the most powerful and popular breweries in Newfoundland in the 1950s. In the 1950s there were many advertisements claiming that the “big three” beers in Newfoundland were Dominion Pale Ale, Dominon Stout, and Rainbow Beer. Here are a few examples:

The "big three" as advertised in the Adelphian, the school magazine of St. Bonaventure's College in St. John's, in 1955.

A similar advert from volume 13 (page 23) of the Atlantic Guardian from 1956. They were celebrating Corner Brook's amalgamation.

A slightly more bland one from volume 31, issue 4, page 2, of the Newfoundland Quarterly from 1931.

This one, found on the cover of Burke's Ballads (compiled by Johnny White sometime near 1960) celebrates the milestones of Newfoundland's history.

The connection between Newfoundland music and Bennett Brewing is one I plan to explore in a future post. The Newfoundland Songbook in it’s many volumes was presented by Bennett Brewing and/or Dominion Ale is a major part of Newfoundland’s Brewing Heritage. I’ll be reviewing an article by Paul Mercer and Mac Swackhammer “`The singing of old Newfoundland Ballads and a cool glass of good beer go hand and hand’: Folklore and `Tradition’ in Newfoundland Advertising” Culture and Tradition 3 (1978) 36-45.

Another somewhat bland advert from the 1937 Newfoundland Who's Who, page 52

An advert for Haig Ale and Stout from 1926.

It’s interesting to note the medial sounding tone of the 1926 advertisement. This would be from only two short years after the end of Newfoundland’s bout with prohibition, so the medicinal aspect was still quite important, as that is how many of these breweries stayed in business during those years.

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Newfoundland Quarterly

Today, some old adverts from old issues of the Newfoundland Quarterly.

A Bennett Brewing Advert from volume 46, issue 2 (page 41) of the Newfoundland Quarterly (1946)

I also found another beer brewed by the Bavarian Brewing Company from 1946:

Bavarian Brewing advert from volume 46, issue 2 of the Newfoundland Quarterly (1946)

And this advert for the hipster stand-by Pabst (which was imported):

Pabst Advert... Blended, yum...

From the 1955 (volume 4) of the Quarterly I found this one:

India Beer advert, NQ 1955, Volume 4.

I think they should bring back that slogan!

And, as further evidence everything was rainbows in Newfoundland in the 1950’s:

Rainbow Tea?

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Filed under Advertisement, Bavarian Brewing, Bennett Brewing, India Beer, Microbreweries, Rainbow Beer

More Vintage Advertisements

A few more advertisements! These are from Patrick Kevin Devine, Ye olde St. John’s, 1750-1936 (Newfoundland Directories, 1936):

Advertisement for India Pale Ale, page 84.

Advertisement for Bennett Brewery, page 162.

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A Pre-History of Newfoundland Beer

The Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador (Joseph R. Smallwood and Robert D.W. Pitt (editors), Newfoundland Book Publishers, 1981), page 251, states the following:

Some of the earliest references to beer consumption in Newfoundland appear in reference to John Guy’s colonists at Cupids and in the papers of Sir Percival Willoughby, from 1610 to 1631. Beer was commonly used as an alternative to fresh water by most seafaring nations of the day, and as a result beer was included as a staple of amy fisherman’s and early colonists’ diets. “An inventory of what provisions is Left at the English Coloni [sic] in Cupis Cove in the New Founde Lande [sic]” dating from August 1611 mentions fourteen pipes of beer included in the Colony’s provisions. “A noate [sic] for the provition [sic] of 20 men for Newfoundland” dated April 3, 1613 recommended some fifty hogsheads of beer for the voyage. Another typical voyage of the period, made by Richard Whitborne in 1622, carried twenty-six tuns of beer and cider. Sir William Vaughan (cited in D.W. Prowse: 1895) advised that strong liquor was unhealthy in cold climates such as Newfoundland’s and said that barley water or spruce beer was better for the health.

The first locally brewed beer or cider was probably “beer brewed with molasses and spruce” which Sir Nicholas Trevanions mentions in article 27 of his Orders of the Fishery in 1712 (cited in Prowse). One of the earliest references to an established brewery on the Island appears in a letter from Governor Gambier to Alexander Caine, dated September 13, 1802. Caine was granted permission to establish a malt beer brewery on Mundy’s Brook, which feed Mundy Pond, St. John’s.

In spite of a rising organized Temperance Movement throughout Newfoundland in the mid-and late-1800s, several local firms established breweries or become involved in importing foreign stout, ales and porters, which are often regarded as a treatment for the invalided, feeble or sickly. By 1897 E. W. Bennett’s Riverhead Brewery was producing an Invalid Stout for those in “delicate health.” During this period several local companies became agents for European stouts and ales which were popular in the community. At least two local companies, J. Lindberg and James Baird Limited, became agents for Barr and Company Ale and Dogs Head Bass Bear, Guiness [sic] Stout and William McEwen Limited Beer, and several companies even exported beer products to England. As a result of a strong temperance sentiment throughout the Island most companies during the 1800s also produced Aerated Water (soft drinks) and syrups.

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, however, public sentiment in favour of restrictions on alcohol consumption resulted in the passage of the Intoxicating Liquor Act (1 Geo. V, c. 1) in 1911, and a tavern-closing curfew of 9:00 pm. In 1917 the Prohibition Plebiscite Act (8 Geo. V. 1 & 2, c. 22) imposed total prohibition on alcohol consumption in Newfoundland. Most breweries simply reverted to their original production of aerated water or “near” beer (containing not more than 2% alcohol) until prohibition was ended in 1924.

What would a spruce and molasses beer taste like? Probably something like this one made by Garrison Brewing in Halifax. I should also note that one of the more popular accounts of Newfoundland’s beer history, from the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation’s Occasions Magazine from Fall 2008, seems to be largely based on this account from the Encyclopaedia.

Even more on Spruce Beer and Temperance in Newfoundland can be found in this article by Lara Maynard, “The National Temperance Drink of Newfoundland,” Oceanside Press Volume 4-Issue 5, page 3. Some one really needs to make a Newfoundland Spruce Beer called “callibogus.”

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Reference Books

Since this is a research blog, I figured I’d put a few books which I’m looking into for a more general sense of the history of beer and brewing. I know, for example, there is more information on Bennett Brewing on page 70 of Brewed in Canada.

Allen Sneath, Brewed in Canada: The Untold Story of Canada’s 300-Year-Old Brewing Industry (Dundurn, 2001)

Paul Brent, Lager Heads: Labatt and Molson Face Off for Canada’s Beer Money (HarperCollins, 2004)

Nicholas Pashley, Cheers! A History of Beer in Canada (HarperCollins, 2009)

Ian Coutts, Brew North: How Canadians Made Beer and Beer Made Canada (Greystone, 2010)

Ian S. Hornsey, A History of Beer and Brewing (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2003)

Garrett Oliver (editor), The Oxford Companion to Beer (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Fergus G. Priest and Graham G. Stewart (editors), Handbook of Brewing, Second Edition (CRC Press, 2006)

Martyn Cornell, Amber, Gold & Black: The History of Britain’s Great Beers (The History Press, 2010)

Michael Jackson, The World Guide to Beer: The Brewing Styles, the Brands, the Countries, (Prentice Hall, 1978)

Joseph R. Smallwood and Robert D.W. Pitt (editors), Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador (Newfoundland Book Publishers, 1981)

McAlpine Company, McAlpines Newfoundland Directory 1894-1897 (McAlpine Publishing Co., 1984)

Patrick Kevin Devine, Ye olde St. John’s, 1750-1936 (Newfoundland Directories, 1936)

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Additional Information on Bennett Brewing

Thanks to Anthony Cashin who pointed out he has an entry on his blog about the history of the Bennett Brewery.

It’s here.

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