"Lately I've been drinking a lot of Iron Horse," says self-proclaimed Canadian beer expert Doug McKenzie, who, with his brother Bob, presides over "Great White North," their own television talk show. "It's light, without being a light beer [the McKenzies despise light beer], and yet heavy enough, as you might gather from the name, 'Iron Horse,' to be kind of satisfying and full-bodied."
"Listen to you, you sound like the Galloping Gourmet," mutters Bob.
The hopheaded McKenzies [a.k.a. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, stars of the late-night "SCTV" comedy show] derive much of their expertise from their unparalleled consumption of malted beverages on the bottle-strewn set of their talk show. Beer is the beverage of choice for the brothers, who think nothing of washing down a pound of back bacon and french fries or a dozen donuts from the all-night donut store.
Typical "topics" for discussion on their improvised show: "What kind of donuts go best with beer?" "Whose turn is it to return the empties?" and "Is it true you can get free beer if you squeeze a mouse carcass into an empty beer bottle [the McKenzies claim this is called a "passenger" in the beer biz] and return it to the brewery?"
The brothers, currently in Toronto doing postproduction work on their first feature film, aptly named "Strange Brew," interrupted their schedule to discuss the merits of Canadian beer.
"Oh, jeez, it's my favorite food, never mind drink," Doug says.
"Yeah, it's very nutritious," Bob agrees. "It's got hops and barley in it, eh? It's like, high in protein."
"If you have to go for a long time without food and you could pick a liquid to live on, beer would be the one, eh?," Doug says, with typical lager-clouded logic.
The MacKenzies say they prefer Canadian beer to American because, Doug says, "It's got like 5 percent alcohol, eh?"
"Yeah, it's got more juice in it," Bob says. "And also up here, you have to take your empties back."
"Also, the bottle itself is a little, kind of a cute brown bottle that you just kind of get used to holding, eh," Bob explains. "Brown bottles are better than green, eh, 'cause they kept the beer colder in hot weather and cooler in cold weather.
"We don't like cans, we just use cans for 'Beer Hunter,'" he says. "That's a game sometimes we play at parties where you shake up one beer in a six-pack. It's like Russian Roulette, eh, with beer. You get a soaked head."
"Yeah," Doug says, "you have to open it pulling the tab right against your forehead, eh?"
With some effort, the conversation is steered to the brothers' favorite brews of the moment. "Basically, our beer preferences are, pretty open-ended, eh," Bob says. "Like if we're at a party, we'll drink what's going. If we're in a bar, since our record came out, like, a lot of people know us, so if we're in a bar and guy comes up and says, 'Hey, McKenzies, let me buy you hosers a so-and-so beer, I know you like it,' we're not gonna say, no way, eh, that's not our brand. We're gonna say, 'Yeah, that's our brand, what a coincidence. We'll have two, eh?'
"And the only other time we don't drink Canadian beer is when we're on dates," Bob continues. "Then we drink Heineken. Cause we hear that that's the way to score, eh. They're impressed by when you drop the extra bucks, eh?"
"My brother took it too far, and like spoke with like a German accent all evening," Doug says with thinly disguised contempt. "Well that was supposed to turn them on, too, eh?"
"It ain't from Germany, it's from Deutschland. It's Dutch," Bob says.
"They left," Doug says. "Cause of that bad German accent."
"They left cause of your breath," Bob counters, precipitating a new squall of bickering. McKenzie Brothers' Guide To Major Canadian Exports: MOLSON
Bob: "Molson is a good, solid beer and they always bring interesting sports to television. But we are not drinking it anymore. Cause they hosed us. Moranis says Molson and Labatts refused to allow them to film in their breweries for fear of people attempting the "mouse in a bottle" stunt .
Doug: "They're chicken, that's why. They're afraid of a mouse turning up in one of their bottles."
Bob: "And we figure, if they have no guts, how can their beer have guts?" MOOSEHEAD
Doug: "Moosehead's a beauty beer. Any beer that Willie Nelson drinks is fine with us, eh?"
Bob: "Also it's named after an animal. That's always safe in a beer."
Doug: "'Cause it's a name you can trust. There's certain car names that you wouldn't trust, and similarly, we always look for a good animal name in a beer." LABATTS
Bob: "Labatts is also a beauty beer, consistent, very few passengers in that beer. If it turns up at a party it's okay. My only objection with Labatts is all their commercials show these beautiful guys and girls ballooning, eh? And waterskiing and doing all this stuff. And I have two questions. First of all, how can you afford to do all those things and drink beer? And second of all, how can you do all of those things loaded? I tried to waterski loaded and I almost killed myself." O'KEEFE
Doug: "The beer ain't bad, but once again, those guys are chicken. So it's colored our ability to drink their beer." BRADOR
Bob: "Brador's a malt, eh? It's got 6.5. It's beauty. It's like having a boilermaker, eh? You get real looped fast on that."
Doug: "Originally, I believe they shortened the name because it wouldn't fit on the bottle. It was Labrador. And they just cut it to Brador."
Bob: "Yeah. They wanted to name it after an animal. And then there wasn't room on the label cause they had to put 6.5 percent alcohol. So that killed the whole dog angle."
"Beer is a cold friend on a hot day," philosophizes Doug. "Beer, to me, you know how sometimes, like you see one of those old war movies and they play the national anthem of the country and you sort of get this feeling in your stomach? That's what happens to me."
"You know sometimes when something real important happens," Bob says, "and you look in the eyes of the guys that you're with, and without saying anything, you know that you better sit down and have a beer. That's what it means to me, eh?"
"He always has that look in his eye," Doug says. "I've seen him do that to complete strangers. They look at each other like they're old cronies. And then they sit down and have a beer. And of course, I don't want to be rude so I join 'em."