Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Moose Be My Real Reason

My Dad's birthday was yesterday. Had he still been alive, he would have been 73. He was a passionate fisherman and absolutely loved and adored the out-doors. Some of the best times I've had outdoors have been with him, and there isn't a single time that I enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature and the woods without reflecting on what this man meant to me.

I've long been a fan of Moosehead beer. I love the that they are Canada's oldest independent brewery and when I buy their lager I'm not only enjoying a great tasting beer, but I'm also supporting a business that has been owned by the same family for six generations.

But yesterday, while I was drinking a Moosehead beer in honour of Dad and reflecting on all the great times , I finally put two and two together.  You see, in our family we always associated my Dad's birthday, and June 28th, with the true weekend that rang in the summer.  For us it was never Victoria Day (we lived in Northern Ontario, after all, Victoria Day was typically still too cold to consider it "summer") -- on the weekend closest to my Dad's birthday, we usually got a "beer ball" of Northern Draft and get the whole family together and have a grand BBQ at my parent's place in Levack.  Beer and June 28th and Dad, meant good times and fun.

So I started to think that perhaps my powerful fondness of the Moosehead brand is my way of staying connected to Dad.

When I reflect back on it, I believe I started drinking Moosehead beer merely because the logo of the moose reminded me of my Dad. He was a hunter/fisher, and so moose hunting season was a big thing in our house. The wonderful majesty of the moose has always reminded me of my father.  When I look back at the recent "The Outer-self" ad campaign (a little known part of the human psyche that yearns for the outside world) from Moosehead, it makes more sense to me.  Most standard non-craft brewed beers, after all, taste relatively the same -- there's very little actual variety in the more popular Canadian beers on the market.  What becomes important to the consumer are your internal associations with the label, with the brand. What it SAYS about you as a consumer of that brand.

And when I look back to the last time I spent some real "quality time" with my Dad, it was when my cousin Rodney and my Dad and I were deer hunting on Manintoulin Island, our beer of choce was Moosehead (okay, the two of them were hunting, I was there to work on a novel).

One rainy afternoon, while my cousin was out scouting the area, my Dad and I sat on the deck of the cabin and bonded by having a real heart to heart talk. For the first time in many years, I intimately shared a scene from my novel-in-progress MORNING SON, a novel that explored the father-son relationship and was, in many ways, inspired by my Dad.

I read the scene to him, which was a motorcycle accident that forever changed the life of the father in the novel, and which was based, heavily, on a very similar accident my father had been in. I'd written the scene from court transcripts about the accident and wanted to check with my Dad to see if I got the feeling right, if the scene came through as "real."

I'll never forget how he sat there with tears in his eyes after I finished reading the scene and nodded his head, letting me know I got it right. Then he hugged me and told me how proud he was of me.

And then we sat on the deck and chatted more, waiting for my cousin to come back, and drank a few more Moosehead.

This must be my real reason. Or, to put it in beer-speak, this MOOSE be a very strong underlying reason why I'm so passionate about Moosehead. I just never thought about it before.

Sure, I'm proud to drink a lager from a six generation family that is Canada's largest and oldest independent brewery. But there's an underlying connection to my Dad every time I drink a Moosehead.

Funny how the association has always been there, but I never really, properly drew the connection until recently.

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