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Dean Brody on summer anthems and his new beer, Hucklejack Canadian Lager

Canadian country music star Dean Brody. Hype PR/Drean Brody

Canadian country music superstar Dean Brody decided to step outside the world of music and delve deep into the world of beer, dreaming up an idea to bring his vision to life, drawing inspiration from the unique Canadian terrain.

A brand new beer developed by the Juno Award-winning artist has made its way to LCBO stores across the province of Ontario.

Hucklejack Canadian Lager is balanced with a hint of huckleberry, inspired by Brody’s sense of home, developed using elements from the four different regions of Canada where he has at one time put down roots.

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By a twist of fate, Brody met fellow collaborator and brewmaster Spencer Gallant at a brewery in Atlantic Canada, and was intrigued by his knowledge and passion for beer, rooted in historic Maritime tradition. The two quickly got to work testing recipe variations with a creative and subtle infusion of the huckleberry.

Global News spoke with Brody about his new beer, how the coronavirus pandemic has affected his plans as an artist and more.

Global News: What inspired you to switch gears from making music to creating a beer? 
Dean Brody: I’ve always loved beer and I’ve always been fascinated by some of my earliest memories involving beer in the creek with my dad’s hunting camp. They would just throw the cans in the creek to cool them off. It’s just part of our life, I think, as country folks. For a long time, country music and beer were kind of synonymous with our culture. We don’t tend to be big wine drinkers. I’m not a beer snob. I’m just passionate about beers I like. My band is sort of, like, beer snobs and they’ve also helped educate me on the IPAs and all that kind of stuff.

When we tour on our rider, we’re always allowed to ask for whatever we want to drink. At first, we were just getting the typical Bud Light, Canadian, Coors Banquets. My guys in my band that are beer snobs were like, ‘Give us some real beer’ (laughing). That’s when we started getting local craft beers brought to the dressing rooms every show. What’s been really cool is as we tour of the country, we kind of get a taste of the country in a compressed amount of time, going east to west or west to east. It’s always part of our experience, like going to a local brewpub after the show or a day off. Making a beer, I wanted to make a drink that reminds me of home for me because I spent time living in the U.S.A.

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I was born and raised on the West Coast and lived in the Maritimes for seven years, five years on the prairies, four years in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan and now my home in Ontario. I wanted to bring an element from each place into the beer.

Can you tell me a bit about your partnership with Share the Goods?
We’re partnering with Share the Goods to launch. The climate right now, there’s a lot of hardship with COVID-19. People are trying to find their way and Share the Goods helps families that are in need and helps provide food for them during this time. We decided to have, like, a community aspect of the launch for the beer to help some families out. We have a contest where if a group of people get together and can raise $1,000, I’ll show up for a half-hour little backyard party on Zoom. Whoever gets together to raise the money, they’ll be paired with a family who is in need right now.

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What has the response from fans to the product been so far? 
People said they love it and they find it different. It’s light and malty but it’s got some body to it, too.

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What do you hope Canadians take away from your product?
I would love it if people just felt like I do when I drink it. It’s like a little bit of from east to west. It’s got the huckleberry taste. Grizzly bears use the huckleberry for fuel to get it to winter, to put on 400 pounds and eat tons of these berries. We used to pick in the same patches where the grizzlies would frequent. It’s got a tart taste. This recipe came from historic roots in the Maritimes. We’re using prairie greens but using the berry from the West and we’re brewing in Ontario. It’s kind of cool, like, most craft beers are really regional. This one was something we like to try and make accessible to everybody.

Is it safe to say that Can’t Help Myself is almost like an anthem for Hucklejack?

Yeah, I mean, we had a lot of fun doing that video. We squeezed it out just in time before they shut everything down with COVID-19, too. It’s a good time. When I think of beers, I always relate to having a good time with friends on the porch or patio on the lake, on a boat somewhere in the middle of a lake having a couple of brews. I also have another song coming out called Bucket list and it talks more about beer.

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Have you been creating any new music during quarantine?
A little bit but not much. I just moved into a new place so I’m doing a lot of renovations but I’ll be back at the music really quick.

Your new single, Canadian Summer, is coming out soon. What makes this a summer anthem?
It’s kind of a nostalgic song for me. I wrote it thinking that it would come out in the fall but I think during the summer is kind of cool, especially now with us having to be inside for so long with COVID. With being Canadians, we already have a long winter as it is. This song just celebrates what makes our summers unique. There’s a little bit of Canadiana thrown in there and I’m hoping people love it. We had a lot of fun recording it and bringing it to life.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your plans as an artist?
That’s a big one! We had huge plans this year and a big tour. I launched a record label this year, a beer and I bought a house. My biggest concern is for the people who would join us on tour and my crew and band members. They’re really hurting right now because we can’t gather, we can’t play and it’s been rough on the music family.

What pairs best with Hucklejack Canadian Lager?
I find spicy foods do, also barbecue and Mexican or seafood as well.

(This interview has been edited and condensed.)

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