Remember how I mentioned multiple McMenamins visits during this last weekend? While it was true that 98% of the reason for the trips was to acquire swag for Jessica’s paramour, the other 2% was that I kind of really enjoy the McMenamins pubs and brews. In particular, I’ve always been drawn to their Ruby Ale. In fact, I believe it was the very first beer I quaffed upon moving to Oregon. It’s a light, refreshing beer with a pretty pink haze from all the Oregon raspberries they cram into it: 42 pounds for every 210-gallon batch (and only 1/2 pound of hops). Since I never linger over McMenamins’ gifts and since I always order Ruby direct from the pub, I have been kept in the dark about one very salient fact to this blog:
Ruby’s a witch!
I suppose this is a comparatively new development in her story, for even though the beer has been around since 1986, she didn’t get a packaging lift until 1992 when McMenamins decided they wanted to print coasters for their standard beers. Their go-to artist Lyle Hehn happened to be painting decorative patterns on the McMenamin’s Administrator’s House at Edgefield and decided that its kitchen needed a little something extra. He had learned that different European cultures had (and still have) a tradition of keeping a little witch doll in their kitchens for good luck, so he decided to paint a witch motif in the Edgefield kitchen. As he reveals in a McMenamin’s blog post, Hehn decided to make the line work in the figure resemble the style of crude medieval woodcuts, which explains some of the ambiguity in the lines and why Ruby’s costume would not be very practical in real life. Later, he based the Ruby Ale design on this painting.
I quite adore the design. Ruby’s a friendly sort of girl with a funky sort of “pirate” fashion sense. I also really love that Hehn has her holding a star and a crescent moon, both of which are very positive symbols in Wicca and other contemporary witchcrafts. All in all, I think it’s a nice combination of respectful, artistic, and damn fun. Certainly much nicer than that brouhaha over Port Brewing Company’s Lost Abbey Witch’s Wit a couple years back.
Naturally then, I had to help myself to a little Ruby swag. I decided on this sweet little Ruby Christmas ornament for my souvenir. I think it will be very appropriate on my Yule tree, and–thanks to Ruby’s unique fashion sense–not terribly Halloween-y. (Also, I find it a little hysterical that the ornament is in a ‘Jesus pose.’) This little Ruby retails for $9.95 on McMenamins’ website, or at any McMenamin’s location. Jessica also gifted me with a Ruby Ale pint glass, which was so lovely of her as I’m now starting something of a collection of them. All the McMenamins’ pints are something like $3.50 each, and can also be found on their website or at any pub.
Incidentally, if you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest and would like to try some Ruby for yourself, the brewer’s site TastyBrew.com has an excellent clone recipe for your brewing pleasure. Enjoy!