Canada’s two largest and dominant breweries (J. Labatt and Molson) observed and realized in the last three decades how small independent, and quality oriented breweries slowly but consistently gained market share, while per capita consumption gradually decreased.
The third largest brewery, Sleeman, has contributed to the erosion, as have other mid-sized Ontario based breweries.
Now J.Labatt’s is owned by InBrew (a giant brewery organization based in Belgium), Molson merged with Coor’s in Colorado, and Sleeman is now part of the Sapporo Brewery of Japan.
Regardless, all three breweries mentioned above are deeply concerned about the inroads imported beers are making, and the impact Ontario craft breweries gains on market share.
It is clear that both Labatt’s and Molson committed marketing errors by emphasising “life-style” advertising of their mainstream, tasteless beers, while young well travelled, and well heeled consumers were looking for tasty and refined brews.
Beer is a delicate beverage and must be handed with due care after bottling, and refrigerated at all times. Cans may be light and exclude light penetrating but are prone to oxidation and subject to temperature variations.
Beer ought to contain malted barley, water, hops, and yeast to convert sugar to alcohol.
The Reinheitsgebot of Bavaria (The Purity law) declared in 1516 stipulated the use of those ingredients exclusively, and all German breweries now adhere this to. Switzerland and Norway are the two other countries that follow voluntarily the Reinheitsgebot.
Modern worldwide spread brewing organizations like InBev, SabMiller, and Heineken, and others employ a myriad (over 100) of preservatives, stretchers, enhancers, and substitutes to render their products more shelf-stable, making them in the process weaker in taste, lower in alcohol, and generally insipid.
Water is the main ingredient of beer and suitable water must be abundant to brew quality product.
Labatt’s and Molson use tap water, strip it, and add chemicals to render it suitable for their brews. Such practice fails to achieve desired high-quality brews.
Provincial governments in Canada insist that all beers available in their jurisdictions must be brewed within their borders; this creates employment, but fails to contribute to quality and increases costs needlessly.
Once large brewery in Toronto can brew all the beer consumed in
the country less expensively, and possibly of better quality.
Beer, like, al alcoholic beverages in Canada, is heavily taxed and strictly controlled, making it more expensive that necessary, whereas in practically all continental European countries, beers contain less than five per cent ABV are taxed minimally.
Big brewery organizations can brew high-quality and tasty beers, but they prefer to buy small, well established, and quality-oriented breweries to fill the gap as was the case with Molson with Creemore Springs.
Boutique breweries market their beers with best-before dates prominently displayed and insist that their products be kept refrigerated at all times in an attempt to have consumers see that they care.
None of the craft breweries cans their brews. During the last decade, there has been an explosion of craft breweries ad brewpubs across the country; this proves that the population is willing to pay for quality beers and appreciates the difference between mainstream and craft brewed beers.
Beer aficionados want to enjoy well-brewed, refreshing, properly “hopped” beers, and prefer to go out of their ways to find them.
The following Ontario craft brewery beer brands available at the
L C B O are well worth trying:
Natural Blond Premium Lager, Amsterdam Brewing Company
Auburn Ale, Cameron’s Brewing Company
Premium Lager, Creemore Springs Brewery
Hockley Dark, Hockley Valley Brewing and Malting Company
Pilsner, King Brewery
Stock Ale, Mill Street Brewery
Bruce County Premium lager, Neustadt Springs Brewery
Olde Jack Pale Ale, Niagara Falls Brewing Company
Elora Irish Ale, Trafalgar Brewery
Wellington Special Pale Ale, Wellington County Brewery