The beer facts

Ed Smith
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"Gotta get me moose, b'y!" That's the rallying cry of the fall season among the hunting elite in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Gotta get me moose, b'y!"

You can hear it in the hunting equipment stores where they sell high-powered rifles and ammunition and camouflage gear and big-game hunting licences.

"Gotta get me moose, b'y!"

It echoes down the highways and through the woods roads, along the bogs and across cutover.

"Gotta get me moose, b'y!"

It pours through the open windows and from the open pans of pickup trucks cruising at dead slow along the shoulders of the highways.

"Gotta get me moose, b'y!"

But now there's a new cry in any season among the drinking elite of that same province.

"Gotta get me beer, b'y!"

You can hear it echoing in the halls of certain breweries and permeating the air like a disharmonious and desperate refrain.

"Gotta get me beer, b'y!"

It's loudest on the streets adjacent to the breweries, where it bounces off the pavement and rises above the ancient buildings of the oldest city.

"Gotta get me beer, b'y!"

Almost everybody has heard the new song by now. The source of bottled nectar for thousands of our fellow citizens has capped more than its bottles. They've gone tighter than a cork in a wine cooler (oops, sorry for mentioning wine).

Which reminds me, why don't we have beer coolers? Or beer spritzers? Why does it have to be always the same old thing? Yes, I know - vive la same old thing!

The brewery shall remain nameless for as long as I can't remember for sure which one it is. I could ask my poker buddies, but since the six of us have trouble putting away a sixpack over three or four hours - and one of us drinks four - I doubt if they'd know.

Anyway, this brewery evidently promised its hard-working employees and retirees a bit of a bonus. Seems as though these employees and former employees are as hard drinking as they are hard working, because the bonus was six dozen beer a month!

Now, folks, that's a lot of suds! Perhaps there are families in the capital city who have a lot of friends and a lot of relatives. LOTS of friends and LOTS of relatives.

How would you like to be related to that lot?

Furthermore, these brewery employees have marvelous barbecues every night of the summer and every night during the winter. There's a wedding every second night, not to be confused with the nightly barbecues, and one great blowout every weekend. How else does one normal family drink all that beer?

That's - let me see, now - that's - 72 cases a year! That's - call up the calculator here - that's - that's 864 bottles a year! What a hell of a singsong they could have! You know, 864 bottles of beer on the wall etc., etc.

I'm getting tipsy just thinking about it. Doesn't take a lot. Couple bottles of Labatt's Light and I'm going "all in" on a Jack high. It's all bluff, of course, and suddenly my $15 is gone and I'm on my face for the rest of the night.

The almost tragic news story last week told how the brewery had changed its mind and, beginning Jan. 1, will reduce the number of free beers retirees get down to a paltry dozen a month. In five years' time, they won't be getting any free beer at all.

Workers will get 52 free dozen a year instead of the 72 they're getting now. There's no five-year phase-out planned for them.

Cruel and unusual punishment for the retirees! Totally without compassion! No understanding of the need for the common man and woman to drown their sorrows every single night. Of course, they could drown them in each other, but who knows their situations.

Anyway, the former employees were not taking this lying down, at least not until after they had their beer, and had taken to the streets to protest this latest move by an unfeeling and ungrateful employer to whom they had given their working lives.

Not much support

Didn't take long for the public to react. In the papers, on the television news and on the radio open lines, the readers and the viewers and the listeners, not to mention the talkers, poured out their feelings on the matter.

There was more support for Jack the Ripper in his heyday than for the poor soon-to-be-brewless retirees walking the streets.

How dare they! Aren't they aware there are good people who have to make do with one 40-ounce bottle of Bacardi from one weekend to the next? And, they went on viciously, there are probably people out around the bay who have nothing but Haig Ale and Brick's Tasteless to soothe their troubled souls.

I'm exaggerating a little, of course. There were those disturbed people who did try to draw attention to the few thousand who had lost jobs and pensions and homes and other such little things over the last few months, but not many. Most stayed with the real problem, which is liquor and getting enough of it.

Then a woman who lives with me came up with some calculations of her own. She's always picking up for the underdog, you see. Actually married one of them. If she sees someone attacking someone else, she makes straight for the attackees and sides with them.

Anyway, she determined that 72 cases of beer a year in cash is around $1,600 per annum. She wondered how many workers in Newfoundland - who still have jobs, of course - would be happy about giving up $1,600 in bonus money. Perhaps that's what they were given in lieu of cash.

No one's business what they do with the beer.

Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is

Organizations: Labatt, Bacardi

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Springdale

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