Not everyone may know this, but we’re (KegWorks I mean) located in Buffalo, NY – a border town with a few bridges to Canada. It’s a wonderful thing, considering we have easy access to the best products that Canada has to offer – particularly the beer.
Around here, the staple beers that you’ll find at every event and every bar are Labatt Blue and Molson Canadian. When people move out of the area and they ask for a Blue Light, bartenders usually look at them like they have three heads.
We all took notice when a company called North American Breweries purchased Labatt USA awhile back. When that happened, the Department of Justice stepped in with a mandate that said that in order for the deal to go through, North American Breweries must switch Labatt’s US sourcing away from AB InBev’s Labatt breweries in Canada and they must do it within three years.
Yesterday, North American Breweries lived up to their end of the deal. According to reports they had launched a "pretty intensive investigation of the options, including building a brewery in Canada, buying a brewery or contract brewing." Some sources even say they made a few attempts at buying an existing brewery but that didn’t pan out. So, they decided to contract their business out to Molson Coors.
Sure, it’ll be invisible to customers, it won’t say anything about Molson Coors on the packaging, North American Breweries and Labatt brewmasters will still be in charge and the recipe will remain the same. Yet, I still can’t help but wonder what John Labatt would have to say about this. As Beer Business Daily said, it’s kind of like brewing Budweiser in Milwaukee. I can’t help but think of it as sleeping with the enemy.
Apparently, they will start transferring production to Molson Coors in the fourth quarter with test batches and the entire transition is expected to be complete within the next 9 months.
I read that this solution "allows Labatt to maintain its Canadian heritage" – and that the company thought brewing the beer in the US (here or in Rochester for example) could possibly hurt the brand, seeing as it would no longer be considered an imported beer. Sounds kind of silly to me.
I suppose as long as Buffalo keeps getting Labatt Blue and Labatt Blue Light, the world will keep on spinning – it just might be a little off kilter.
[techtags:MOLSON, COORS, LABATT, NAB, BEER NEWS]