Great Lakes Brewery’s Canuck is no longer Crazy

Crazy Canuck

Typically when it comes to beer, my philosophy is that taste is the only thing that matters. And that is true, to an extent, but there’s something to be said for a well-designed label.

Beermakers here in Toronto have, for the most part, embraced some design aesthetics when it comes to the logos that adorn their brews (See my August 2013 blogTO post on the best labels in the city and their stories) and the humble beer logo has evolved into a collaboration of design by local artists, a marketing opportunity for local bands and filmmakers, and all manner of hipster-friendly hand drawn shenanigans. But there’s been one great beer that’s always been left behind and it’s Great Lakes Brewery’s Crazy Canuck. Behold the monstrosity pictured above. There’s multiple maple leafs, a loon, a toque–and for some reason it’s black, gold, and red. It’s fucking hideous.

Now, having said that, it’s a great beer. Like a really great beer. Like an award winning pale ale from the brewery that has taken home Canadian Brewery of the Year for two straight years now. To my mind, this oh-my-god-kill-it-with-fire can has likely led to at least a few people passing by this tasty beverage on the LCBO shelves. It’s the reason that, virtually every time I’ve spoken to Great Lakes Brewery’s Troy Burtch in the past year or so I’ve persistently asked, “You got any plans to change that awful can yet?”

Thankfully, the last time I asked him, he said yes!

And in a Ben’s Beer Blog exclusive, I’m happy to reveal the new can for Canuck (no longer Crazy).

Great Lakes Canuck

As with other recent Great Lakes labels, the new can features a hand-drawn image by Garnett Gerry and graphic design by The Only Cafe’s Fabian Skidmore. The eponymous Canuck is now a bearded, flannel-wearing lumberjack. Burtch tells me that a social media marketing campaign centrering around this burly Canadian, named Gordie Levesque, will coincide with the launch of the new cans.

Great Lakes Canuck reverse
“It’s been said that “Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.” This beer doesn’t help much with that crisis. From the fiercely irresponsible stereotypical image on the front of the can to the distinctly American style of the beer inside – we’ve really made a mess of things. What have we done? Sorry.

The gaudy colours are gone and instead the new can is a more subdued taupe, red, and black. As for the name change, Burtch tells me that Great Lakes opted to drop the “Crazy” part because they think Canuck is a beer that should be taken more seriously. I’m inclined to agree.

What do you think of the new cans?

6 thoughts on “Great Lakes Brewery’s Canuck is no longer Crazy

  1. Ha, I’ve always passed this beer by. “Cheap label design, cheap brew,” is the reasoning, I guess; although I do enjoy their other beers.

  2. I was introduced to this beer a few years ago by a buddy. I immediately laughed in his face when he pulled out the can. Those laughs turned to tears when tasted what I had been missing! I’m sure plenty of folks will give this one a try with the new packaging and the best kept secret in beer will be out! At least I’ll still have my god-awful looking but delicious Naughty Neighbour bottles to myself!

  3. I passed it by as well but was eventually drawn to its hideousness. It is a very fine ale and I actually wished it had stayed the same. I like the cheesiness.
    Funny I originally passed on Flying Monkey for a similar reason. Hmmm new Brewery. Woe they are trying to hard. OK so I’m 0-2. .

  4. I’ve had Crazy Canuck often enough and always enjoyed the beer. But I’m really not liking this new label design at all. Beyond being “irresponsibly stereotypical” (and rather exclusionist of female craft beer drinkers), the image is unoriginal. There are soooo many lumberjacks in Canadian marketing — how will this one distinguish itself from the crowd, even with a focused marketing campaign? Besides, why pin Canadians with one lumberjack identity on the front of the can while claiming on the back of the can that Canadians have no identity? It seems like a confused and directionless rebranding effort…

  5. Did the exact same thing as others. Saw it for years on the shelves and thought it looked awful and was almost insulted that they thought people would want this, in some sort of terrible attempt at ironic nationalism (or whatever attempt at humour it may have been trying). So I always passed it by. Then I saw it at the LCBO before the long weekend, noticed the change and decided it was worthy of a chance and well, yep, solid choice. Sad to think what a label can do to a beer, but it was THAT bad.

    You got any current (newer than your article) branding favourites on the shelf right now, Ben?

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