Lasting Brass Brewing’s Two Moons Double IPA
Gifted by the brewer, 8.8% ABV
Originally written May 2014
Slightly edited in December 2017 as part of the Cease and Desist Series of CT Beer reviews
I’ve written a ton of these Connecticut beer reviews and I obviously enjoy doing it. No, it doesn’t bother me that a relative few read them. They allow me to be a little more creative and stupid than I am elsewhere on CTMQ.
I particularly enjoy writing up the beers with interesting back stories or a certain cleverness to them or great labeling. In the case of Lasting Brass’s Two Moons DIPA, it has all three.
Of course, the most important thing is that the Two Moons is really, really good. Lasting Brass is the very professionally run home-brewing operation run solely by my friend Ed Silva in Waterbury. To be a FOE (friend of Ed) is a very good thing.
[Of course, Ed went pro in late 2016 and now everyone can – and should – be a FOE.]
The beer is a straight-forward double IPA. It tastes like a very well crafted straight-forward double IPA. It doesn’t overwhelm with floral or citrus. The level of bitterness is perfect. There is even a hint of malt and dryness not found in many of the “OMG I HAVE TO GET THAT” DIPA’s that are reigning supreme these days.
But really, I’ve come expect such excellence from Lasting Brass. The anticipation for Ed’s sours later this year is already getting to a lot of us FOE’s and making us crazy.
Ed almost always names his beers as a nod to his hometown of Waterbury. But Two Moons? Yes, Two Moons too. Very much so. The story of “Chief” Two Moon (I’ve seen him referred to alternatively as Two Moon and Two Moons and you’ll see both on this page. Deal with it.) is one of Waterbury’s most fascinating. It imbues a healthy mix of evidenced fact, fanciful lore, impressive charity, historic fiction, medical quackery and legal intrigue. In other words, it’s perfect for CTMQ.
I’ll get to it in a minute, but I’ll do the courtesy to those of you TL;DR people and get to the genius of the label (of a non-licensed home brew remember!) and how the hop bill fits the whole story first.
[2017… Okay, here’s the deal. If you came to this page via the Cease and Desist series of beer reviews, here’s why: This was never made public until now, but Ed and Lasting Brass were contacted by some Native American concern asking him to stop using the name and/or the label for this beer. Back when he was “just a” homebrewer.
The origin of this request was murky and dubious, but Ed asked me to remove this review from the public view. Which I did… for a couple years, actually. But now in late 2017, Lasting Brass is professionally brewing and distributing Two Moons, so I’m making this page public again. I don’t know if Ed plans on using the cool logo at the top of this page, but there it is for posterity.
The funny thing is, as you’ll read if you have the time and inclination, Two Moons was a bit of a scam artist. Not the kind of guy you’d defend to his grave and beyond. Anyway, read the whole story – it’s pretty interesting.]
Look at that label again. It’s beautiful. All of Lasting Brass’s design work has been provided by one Mr. Ben Callaghan. He is a professional graphic designer and works with a local company (and was just promoted to Associate Creative Director in March 2014, which is cool) and he is apparently also a FOE.
Two Moons was a Native American (though not as handsome or rugged as the profile on the label, but whatever. Who wants a flabby Indian of dubious tribal descent on their beer?). The beer contains three types of hops: Simcoe and Citra for aroma and flavor and Warrior was used for bittering. Warrior. Get it? (Keep that in mind, as it gets even better later.)
Three hop buds as the headdress. Three hops in the beer. The Lasting Brass signature cog wheel motif is retained in outline. Two grains depicted artfully as well; so much so they are probably often overlooked. It’s just a beautiful, smart design.
Again, remember the “Warrior as bittering hop” thing… The full, crazy story of Two Moons is way too long to tell here. There are some great resources out there for you to learn more – or as much as you can learn, because much of his story is veiled in bs.
Like the part about being a Native American for one. Or a doctor. Ok, ok, here’s the synopsis of this guy’s life. (Here’s the much, much, MUCH longer version, and from where all the factual info below is from, which is actually mostly from a 1933 New York Times article.)
There are some facts about Chief Two Moon that we will probably never know. He was very real, and certainly became a local legend, even if much of his life was nonsense. Chief Two Moon was born Chico Colon Meridan but later changed his last name to Meridas. His father, Chico Meridan, was born in Mexico, as was his mother, Mary Tumoon, from whom he no doubt took the name Two Moon. Where Chief Two Moon was born, no one knows with certainty. According to Dorothy Cantor, education director of the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury (CTMQ Visit), Chief Two Moon claimed he was born in Devil s Lake, South Dakota, but that is very most likely malarkey.
How he developed an interest in herbal medicine is also uncertain. It is believed that, as a young man, he sold herbs on the street comers of Philadelphia. Nevertheless, little, if anything, is known of him until 1914 when he married Helen Gertrude Nugent in Brooklyn, New York.
Shortly after their marriage, Chief Two Moon and his wife moved to the Graf rooming house on Griggs Street in Waterbury, Connecticut. Here he began to make local history, selling his herbal medicines on the street and in parking lots as well as from his rooming house. When (supposedly) none of his patients died in the 1918 flu epidemic, his fame spread rapidly. Many of his patients were convinced that he had supernatural powers, enabling him to penetrate the minds of his patients and to know intuitively answers to questions before they were even asked. For example, a patient from Warren, Ohio, wrote, “His supernatural power of discerning ailments of the human body and prescribing relief places him at once in the front ranks of benefactors of his brother man.” He was also a sleight-of-hand artist and skillful in telling fortunes; these abilities drew crowds of people to him.
So, he was a flim-flam artist and a charlatan of the highest order.
It was, however, his “Bitter Oil — the Wonder Tonic” that brought patients to him from all over the country. Advertised as a laxative, it contained mineral oil, tincture of aloes, and compound tincture of gentian.
His patients became so numerous that in 1921 he moved to a house at 33 Wales Street and before too long (1925-26) built a laboratory, which still stands today, at 1864 East Main Street in Waterbury. The customer traffic in Waterbury was enormous, and two police officers had to deal with it every day. Tree House… this guy blazed trails for you.
Chief Two Moon’s “Bitter Oil” product was “Sold at all Leading Drug Stores,” or it could be obtained through salesmen or by mail order. He got really rich and had a fleet of cars and buses and even a plane. He gave lots of money away to the poor around Waterbury and bought stuff like turkeys and coal for hundreds at Christmas.
Aha! There it is – the last clever cog in this beer’s creation! Remember I told you that the bittering hop was Warrior? And the label depicts a Native warrior? Two Moon’s fame and fortune was due to his “Bitter Oil.” Lasting Brass is genius.
Anyway, something still bothered ol’ Two Moon… His fake heritage.
For most of his adult life, Chief Two Moon tried to prove he truly was an American Indian. In 1929, he traveled to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota hoping that the Oglala Sioux would make him a chief of their tribe. He left disappointed, however; in spite of the $500 he had given the chiefs of the Sioux tribe for the ceremonies when he was there (the chiefs had expected more), he was given only the title of honorary chief and “friend of the Indians.” Undaunted, he planned another trip to South Dakota and, according to his agents’ correspondence, was willing this time to pay more for the title he coveted. After some further correspondence, it was agreed that Chief Two Moon would donate $1,000 or so with the stipulation that his name be given as the sponsor of the Pine Ridge rodeo, that he receive “a royal welcome” and “be made chief of the tribe with all honors and ceremonies usually bestowed for such events.”
Thus, during this visit in the late summer of 1930, Chief Two Moon was presented with a document proclaiming him chief of all the Sioux. Try as he would, however, he could never get the Department of the Interior to certify that he was an American Indian. Correspondence with senators, officials of the Department, and even an army general, was to no avail. He was never officially acknowledged as an American Indian.
Now the story gets really crazy. He was feted around the country, hanging out with the mayor of New York, scheduled to meet President Coolidge (who shied away at the last moment) and tycoons of industry.
Then, in the fall of 1930, Chief Two Moon and his wife traveled to Europe where, on October 20th, they, wearing “the customary full dress attire required by papal regulation,” had a private audience with Pope Pius XI. The Vatican newspaper called him the “leader of the Indians,” and Italian surgeons and physicians saluted him for his “cures,” calling him the “great medicine man from America.”
Proving once again that Catholics believe anything. Transubstantiation? AmIRight, people?
During the last couple of years of his life, Chief Two Moons spent much of his time in courtrooms. In the New York City Court, he was convicted of practicing medicine without a license. The State of Connecticut also brought him to trial on five counts of practicing naturopathy without a certificate or license. Evidence was obtained by the state police, and a warrant served on May 3, 1932. John H. Cassidy, Chief Two Moon’s attorney, fought over the interpretation of state statutes. He quoted from section 2772 of the 1930 general statutes which defined the practice of naturopathy as ” mechanical manipulation but not internal medication.” Cassidy made headline news as he ridiculed the state statutes, but he lost on the point. In October 1932, Chief Two Moon brought, at his expense, 26 Sioux chiefs to Waterbury to speak on his behalf in the trial with Sorrentino and in regard to his being an Indian.
Let’s wrap this up. The band of Sioux traveled east and it was a big spectacle and there was much dancing and frivolity.
Without realizing the greatest desire of his life — to be officially acknowledged as an American Indian by the U.S. Department of the Interior — he died on November 2, 1933, at his home, of cirrhosis of the liver.
Hm. People said he didn’t drink. So that’s weird.
Go read the full story linked above. Dude was a legend who created his own legend which in turn caused dopey followers to improve upon his legend.
And this beer is fantastic.
Overall Rating: A
Rating vs. Similar style: A