Cheshire, sort of, Contract Brewed at Thomas Hooker Brewing, Bloomfield
Phew. I’ve written about a lot of confusing things on CTMQ from trail re-routes to strange museum choices and Danbury’s street lay-out. But I’m finding that a few of Connecticut’s single-label contract brewers may prove the most daunting of all.
We have several and these Weed guys may be the most convoluted. In fact, I’m not even sure if I should include them on my comprehensive Connecticut Beer Master List. This, despite the fact that the beer is absolutely brewed in Bloomfield at Hooker and the folks behind the bottle I drank most definitely reside in Cheshire.
So what’s the confusion? I’ll try to sum it up in one sentence:
A family named Weed from Cheshire bought the rights to use the name, slogans and recipe from California’s Mt. Shasta Brewing Company who produce an identical Abner Weed Amber Ale which cheekily plays up the surname that is shared by the Cheshire Weeds and an early 20th century California lumber baron named Abner.
Make sense? No, of course not. And throw in the obvious marijuana angle and the story gets even crazier. Fortunately, The New Haven Register got the low-down on the nonsense, making my task infinitely easier.
I have spent the last 20 minutes learning a lot about Abner Weed, the town of Weed and Mt. Shasta Brewing’s legal battles over their corny “Try Legal Weed” sloganeering. All because some family in Cheshire named Weed, who have absolutely no relation at all to the California Weed family line, decided it would be cool to play up their name with the production and distribution of a legal mind-altering drug. Neat, huh?
Abner Weed was from Maine and moved to California and ended up with a huge lumber mill in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. He went on to become a state senator. He was locally fairly important, as he does have a town (um, Weed) named after him. Here are some more details about Mr. Weed and the town that bears his name.
Enter Mt. Shasta Brewing, which is indeed located in Weed, CA. Everyone needs a gimmick and theirs was too obvious to miss: Weed. They actually had a protracted battle with the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in 2008 over whether the brewery’s “Try Legal Weed” slogan violated federal laws that prohibit promoting an illegal drug. There are so many stupid things about that whole situation that I’ll just leave it alone and note that the brewery won the fight.
Mt. Shasta makes several other beers that include Mountain High IPA and Shastafarian Porter. If that weren’t enough, the company has trademarked the “A friend in Weed is a friend indeed” tagline. More? Oh there’s more… like how their posters and stuff have artfully arranged hops that look as much like pot leaves as is biologically possible. The opening line on their website is “Where A. Weed is King!” It’s just so silly.
Of course, if their unsaid objective is to expose our country’s idiotic laws wherein I can buy unlimited quantities of Weed Ale every day until I die but can’t buy tiny quantities of weed once every ten years, then I’m on board. But I don’t think they think that deeply. (Important aside: I don’t smoke pot and have no plans to do so.)
And I’m sure the Cheshire Weeds don’t think that deeply either. The Cheshire Weeds say they came up with the idea of creating a beer using their fairly unique last name only to find Mt. Shasta beat them to the spiked punch. So they contacted Mt. Shasta and worked out a deal wherein the Cheshire Weeds bought the rights to everything in order to contract brew the beer in Connecticut and have distribution rights to the state and perhaps others nearby where Mt. Shasta doesn’t distribute.
I can’t end this without mentioning that the Cheshire Weed website is trylegalweed.com. And it’s appropriately awful, with a whole series of downright terrible photoshops of a series of stock photos of people driking beer bottles. You have to go see what I’m talking about.
So we have a contract brewer that brews at Hooker that is contracted from a California company. And now you know why I said this was confusing.