Reinhardts at Lagerheads

In the last three essays, we’ve seen how Gottlieb Reinhardt’s Montreal lager brewery, whose roots went back to 1852, had to meet competition from namesake Reinhardts in Toronto who were not related. They sent their Salvador lager to Montreal to compete with his, and finally (1900) set up a brewery just a hop and skip from his.

Some would consider that unfair dealing, but there was never a lawsuit, to our knowledge. Two Reinhardt-branded beers in Montreal had to share a rather small market to begin with: lager vs. ale or porter.

Both breweries ended by being absorbed into National Breweries Limited in 1909. This ended Gottlieb’s brewery and his lager of apparently high repute. The Toronto Reinhardt brewery continued on for some years.

If it wasn’t strange enough that unrelated Reinhardts competed to sell the same type of beer in Montreal, the same thing occurred in Ontario. Gottlieb, with his son Edward Victor, set up a brewery there as noted in an 1889 Montreal business directory.

They did that not in Toronto, where Lothar Reinhardt, Sr. started his brewery, but in Berlin – Berlin, Ontario – which is about 60 miles from Toronto. (The city is now called Kitchener, a change instituted during WW I).

Which side of the equation was aggrieved? In other words, who first sold his beer in the other’s Province?

I can’t answer this definitively as I have not been able to tell when in particular the Toronto Reinhardts started shipping beer to Montreal agents. They were doing so at least in 1886, the year Gottlieb and son Charles (increasingly running the business) noted in an ad in the Montreal Gazette that their business was unrelated to the Toronto brewery.

After working for the Walz brewery in Toronto Lothar Reinhardt, Sr. went into business for himself in 1880-1881, according to an early Toronto and area history.

The agent Montreuil in Montreal, from at least 1893, advertised Reinhardt Salvador together with Dominion White Label and Labatt IPA. Initially, as seen here in 1893, the ads did not state the Reinhardt name in connection with Salvador, but later, e.g., here in 1894 and after, they did. The change seems rather unfair to us, but again there was no lawsuit.

Regarding Gottlieb and Charles’ foray into Ontario, Waterloo Region Generations states that younger son Edward owned a small brewery on Queen Street in Berlin. The brewery is also noted in the 1988 The Art and Mystery of Brewing in Ontario by Ian Bowering, at p. 61. The years during which it operated are not stated, just the approximate period.

However, it seems the brewery started in 1886 and ran until about 1890. Edward was probably selling mostly just draft beer locally. The production was quite small, 10 barrels per day; the Toronto Reinhardt brewery was much larger by comparison.

This biographical entry on Edward in Industries of Canada: Historical and Commercial Sketches (1886), adds more information. An 1888 Waterloo County business directory also contains this listing for Edward as brewer in Berlin.

On August 31, 1889, a box ad for the brewery, about 2″x 2″, appeared in Toronto’s The Globe & Mail (institutional access or paywall). The brewery was called Berlin Brewery, with a statement that “E.V. Reinhardt, Prop.”, was “manufacturer of the celebrated Berlin lager” on Queen Street. The ad was in a group of ads from town merchants that accompanied a multi-page feature on Berlin life and industry. Seemingly the business was on a good footing at this time.

One imagines that the Toronto Reinhardts were not thrilled to read this over breakfast in their home city. True, it was small beer in relation to them, but as an outpost of an older, well-established Montreal brewery, they probably experienced disquiet over it, apart from seeing “their” name used by someone else.

We think it probable the Toronto Reinhardts entered the Montreal market before Edward starting brewing in Berlin, but cannot be 100% sure. Whatever the explanation, we doubt Lothar, Sr. would take an incursion into Ontario by another Reinhardt lightly, even in a small-volume market (if it was).

Indeed, late-1890s notices in Waterloo County trade directories (not paginated, see under General Index) show that Lothar’s agent F.C. Brandt was marketing Salvador and Export lager in Berlin. That probably occurred as soon as Edward started brewing on Queen Street. Brandt’s work may have hastened Edward’s departure from Berlin, and it’s an interesting question whether Brandt was touting Reinhardt beers from Toronto even earlier.*

Edward, born in 1860 – see the Waterloo Region Generations reference above – may have been Gottlieb’s youngest child as in that year Gottlieb, born in 1812 in Germany, was 48. By mid-1890, Edward is in Stuttgart, Germany where on July 23 he met an early demise, at only 30 (see ditto reference).**

Why did he leave Berlin? What explained his youthful passing, and a decamping far away to Germany, albeit Wurttemberg the province of his father’s birth? I hope to find out more soon.

Note re image: image was sourced from this page of the Toronto Reference Library. Used for educational and historical purposes. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the sole owner, as applicable. All feedback welcome.


*While not strictly relevant here, Lothar, Sr. operated from the East End Brewery on River Street in Toronto prior to establishing, c.1887, his Salvador Brewery on nearby Mark Street.

** While it states Edward was born in Montana, this is almost certainly a transcription error, and Montana should read Montreal. The Montreal Reinhardts had no apparent links with Montana, as far as we know.

A Brave Venture – Imperial Breweries Ltd.

On September 7, 1907 Montreal’s La Presse covered the recent launch of Imperial Breweries Ltd., see p. 25. The story explained its unique characteristics, not just for the province of Quebec but even apparently all Canada; it was a brewing cooperative.

The Cooperative Plan

The paper explained that a cooperative combines the functions of production and consumption, and reduces costs by eliminating the middleman. At least 200 hoteliers and grocers bought shares, pooling their “small capital” to create a viable alternative to existing brewers and distributors.

A cooperative also has the feature, not expressly stated in the article, of one vote per member irrespective of the financial investment. An element of democracy is therefore present that is absent from standard business associations, where votes follow the equity amount invested.

Cooperatives were developing traction in Quebec since 1900, not least through the landmark creation in Levis, QC (near Quebec City) of Caisses Populaire. The cooperative movement said the story, fit growing socialist sentiment in the West. Imperial Breweries, it noted, was applying an vestment model recently applied in Germany and the UK.

The Nationalist Spirit

The paper made a frank appeal to “French Canadians” to support the new venture. While La Presse generally avoided a strongly nationalist posture from the mid-20th century, here nationalism was invoked to support a largely francophone commercial venture.

This handsome ad appeared the same year in the Prix Courant, a weekly commercial newspaper:

The appeal in essence was to support one’s own, not unreasonable given industry ownership in Quebec at the time. It was a way for French Canadian capital to enter brewing at scale from a standing start. Montreal’s Frontenac Brewery, established in 1911 only four years later, was also a French Canadian venture albeit with a conventional corporate structure in that case.

Both developments, as for the Caisses Populaire, showed Québécois developing traction in an economy that had been dominated by “les Anglais”, to use the Quebec vernacular. Other French Canadian breweries had existed, in Quebec City and elsewhere in Quebec province. But in Montreal, Imperial Breweries and Frontenac, as far as I know, were the first to be owned by French-speakers in the British era (1770s onward).

Financial Matters

Imperial Breweries had an authorized capital of $400,000, which seems to have been raised. $300,000 was spent to acquire the freehold on St. Paul Street, see page 8 in this contemporary report, formerly occupied by the Reinhardt Salvador Brewery.

Despite the hopes invested in the fledging company, not to mention the hard cash of investors, the plan did not succeed. Only two years later, the brewery was sold to newly-formed National Breweries Limited, which took in all breweries in Montreal except Quebec’s oldest brewery, Molson’s Brewery.

Based on numerous press stories, Imperial had gone into liquidation ahead of the 1909 sale, indeed Lothar Reinhardt, Jr. was co-liquidator, with C.A. Savage.

A sale at auction was ordered and according to news reports of land registrations in Montreal, Lothar himself bought the brewery, for $179,724.66, and then sold it for the same price to National Breweries. The deeds appear both to have been registered during August 1909 but in reverse order, the sale to National, then purchase from the bankruptcy.

I am not clear why this was done. Perhaps Lothar pledged to a bank the securities issued by National Breweries as consideration for its purchase to obtain the cash to pay the bankruptcy.

Press reports on the National Breweries merger plan appeared at end of March 1909 and ascribed a value to Salvador brewery of $100,000, for which a combination of preferred shares and bonds would be issued in payment. See this sample story that indicated land, plant and equipment would be transferred for a combination of these two forms of payment (not cash).

Yet, an 1916 American export trade report listed the value of Imperial Breweries at $400,000. It seems all values were revised upward when the final deal was done, some by a great margin, some for less, as can be seen comparing the respective figures. Dow’s was about half initially what it ended as.

Likely for the breweries considered to have goodwill, that was paid for in issuance of common shares. For what it’s worth, the Lothar land transfers stated that goodwill was included (“clièntele“). No mention was made of stock in trade, but we think probably this was included.*

As to receivables, a notice by Reinhardt and Savage in Le Canada in October 1909 stated that claims against subscribers (créances) would be sold to bidders at auction.

There may be another explanation for the bump-up in Imperial’s case. Perhaps the plant was re-valued when Dawes brewery moved from Lachine to Montreal, in 1916 as it happens, and took over the St. Paul Street brewery. Maybe Lothar owned adjoining lands that he sold to National at some point before 1916, as National expanded the plant footprint, according to its 1934 25th anniversary report I’ve mentioned earlier.

The March 1909 information in any case was “early days”, as Molson Brewery was included at a valuation of $500,000, but did not participate in the final deal.

Role of Lothar Reinhardt viz. Imperial Breweries

I cannot locate a bankruptcy notice for Salvador Brewery in 1907, and its financial condition prior to the sale to Imperial Breweries is unclear to me. Perhaps it was simply a convenient exit for the Toronto Reinhardts from at most a secondary production market, vs. shipping in from Toronto as they had done before 1900.

Albeit clearly among the smaller breweries of Montreal, Salvador Brewery may have been profitable under Lothar, the actual position is not known, to my knowledge.

In a La Presse story of July 1907 describing a reception held to inaugurate Imperial Breweries Ltd., Lothar is mentioned three times in the piece (see p. 10). Addressing the gathering, he lauded Salvador Brewery for its “progress” since construction in 1900, with a 10,000 gallon per day production capacity, a Linde refrigeration machine, and other advantages. He forecast a bright future for the cooperative, invoking the Mutual Union Brewery in New York as a model for high returns.

The tone seems at odds with a business in the dumps prior to the sale, but it is hard to tell at this juncture.

It seems probable Lothar retained a role in Imperial’s business before its fall, if only to guide new owners presumably unfamiliar with brewing. His presence and remarks at the inaugural reception suggest a continuing involvement, although he was not among the listed directors and officers, all seemingly francophone.

Perhaps he was a paid advisor, or even the general manager reporting to the new President, a M. Gravel. The appointment as liquidator also suggests an earlier continuing involvement. Co-liquidator Savage was likely a professional bankruptcy trustee, in contrast.

As well, in 1908 Imperial Breweries placed prominent ads, e.g. in Le Samedi, that continued to show Reinhardt’s name:

Reasons for the Fall of Imperial Breweries

Yet, Imperial Breweries failed at its mission, within only two years. Did the cooperative model simply not work as anticipated? After all even in 1911, two years after National Breweries was formed, Frontenac Brewery, owned by francophones, entered the fray (albeit finally absorbed also by National Breweries, in the 1920s).

Probably competition was too fierce and the anticipated cost savings, too small to grow the business quickly. Also, the hoped for custom from French Canadians may not have arisen in sufficient numbers. Beer drinkers had long been accustomed to choosing amongst established brands, names such as Molson, Dow, and Dawes – the new kid on the block, while a sentimental favourite, did not get enough brand support, it seems.

Also, Salvador was primarily a lager brewery, and lager then was in comparative infancy in Quebec. Nor was Salvador’s lager the only game in town, as Ekers (later also known as Canadian Breweries) made a Milwaukee Lager, and G. Reinhardt & Sons continued to sell their lager. The newspapers show numerous ads as well in this period by American brewers, for beers such as Blatz and Budweiser. The small lager market was rather crowded, and seemingly Imperial could not make a dent in the existing ale and porter market.

The Game of the Name

Some may wonder at the English name “Imperial Breweries”. There were two reasons for this I think. First, at the time, some French Canadian-owned breweries bore English names, e.g., Royal Brewery, and also Fox Head Brewery. This was likely due to the strong association of beer at the time, even lager, with British tradition.

Second, Salvador brewery under Lothar used the term Imperial for some products, so there was a continuity here. The continued use of the name provided the happy circumstance to market an Imperial Porter, which will please dark beer enthusiasts in 2019.

N.B. Today, craft brewing features a number of cooperative breweries, La Barberie in Quebec is one, and London Brewing in London, Ontario another. In France, Terken Brewery in Roubaix, formerly Grande Brasserie Moderne or GBM, a merger of breweries in 1920, lasted until 2004, on a cooperative basis. The cooperative will always be an attractive model to some persons, and more so perhaps in today’s socially aware business environment.

Maybe Imperial Breweries was simply ahead of its time.


*Dow’s valuation in the 1916 trade report, the only one to exceed $1,000,000, makes one realize that the power of the brand in Quebec of the 1950s and early 60s – until the additives scandal in 1964 – wasn’t created from thin air by business genius E.P. Taylor. Dow beer had long enjoyed eminence in Quebec, as numerous attestations showed even in the 1800s. Hubert LaRue’s 1880s book is among them, as I discussed earlier.





The Brewing Reinhardts in Ontario and Quebec

After consulting dozens of sources, I came to understand there were two, albeit unrelated, Reinhardt breweries in Montreal in the period leading up to the 1909 merger that resulted in National Breweries Ltd.

I was continually put off-track following a skein or narrative for each “branch”, until I realized this fact.

Montreal’s population was almost completely of French or British stock then, but there were small numbers of other origin. The Germans had a tiny representation, some descended from Westphalians or Hessians who had fought with the British in the late 1700s in North America.

It was understandable, due to this influx, that one would enter brewing, and one did: Gottlieb Reinhardt, in 1852, and his descendants continued the business until said merger. Gottlieb died in 1895, having come to Montreal in 1831, from Wurtemberg. See the birth details in the second listing, here.

He is buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, a leafy resting place for its social and business elite.

The Salvador Brewery established in 1900 on St. Paul Street in Montreal, often called the Reinhardt Salvador brewery, was a venture of a son of Lothar Reinhardt, who came from Cologne and was not related to Gottlieb. Lothar, Sr. settled in Ontario and established a well-known brewery in Toronto.

The Toronto business and family history have been well-documented, but the Montreal Reinhardt story, much less so.

It’s long odds that two German-descended Reinhardts would brew lager beer in a mostly French and English city and not be related, but there we have it.

The Reinhardt Salvador brewery merged in 1907 with the newly-established Imperial Breweries Ltd. but it appears Lothar Reinhardt, Jr. continued involvement with the new business. There was a specific reason, which I’ll explore in a future post.

Finally, Imperial Breweries too was rolled into National Breweries in 1909, but its brief story is of absorbing interest, which I’ll return to as mentioned.

The ad below (freeview clipping from, sourced here) shows clearly there was no connection between the two Reinhardt families. German Street, or rue Allemande, was later renamed Hotel de Ville Street.



The Ten Breweries of Montreal (in 1898)

In 1898 a splashy, advertorial-style piece in the French-language La Presse  wrote up the ten breweries then operating in Greater Montreal. La Presse was founded in 1884 by William-Edmond Blumhart. He descended from a Hessian officer who had served with British forces in Quebec.

For much of the 20th century La Presse was a major force in Quebec publishing, friendly to business yet with a liberal, inclusive outlook. (At least as I remember it, La Presse was not strongly nationalistic, for example). Today, the paper is digital-only and run as a social, non-profit trust.



The breweries profiled were Molson, Dow, Dawes, Ekers, Union, de la Court, Reinhardt (claimed as the first lager brewery in Montreal, 1852), Star, Canadian Brewing, and Montreal Brewing. The three oldest were Molson (1786), Union (formerly the Williams Brewery) (1808), and Dow (1809). Today, only Molson survives, now called Molson Coors Beverage Inc.

Brewing continues at Molson’s historic location by the St. Lawrence River but a new plant is being built in St. Hubert, Quebec. When the key will turn that will spell the end at least of mass production by the riverside in Montreal, a long run indeed at the same location.

The article perhaps was financed by the breweries as a joint anti-Prohibition exercise, as the health, economic, and social benefits of moderate drinking are continually emphasized. The breweries are given space disprportionately to their size, and Molson only got a small paragraph. It is difficult to know why, maybe each paid so much for the space given.

The piece is noteworthy for its historical, ownership and management details as well as product descriptions.

In tune with the industrial and commercial landscape then, most of the breweries were owned by anglophones despite the fact that Montreal has always had a French-speaking majority. Star was owned by a Belgian financier, Count Debellefeuille. “de la Court” name suggests another European involvement, possibly, but this is unclear.

Many breweries, according to the article, had British-trained brewers. Burton, Scotland, and Ireland are mentioned.



In the 20th century brewing in Montreal local francophones commenced brewing, e.g., the Frontenac Brewery although it ended being absorbed in a large combine, National Breweries.

The types of beer made were pale ale, India Pale Ale, stock ale, porter, stout, and lager. Some made both lager and ale, Ekers for example produced a Milwaukee Lager. Its plant was – and is, the building – on St. Lawrence Boulevard north, past the Schwartz smoked meat restaurant many readers will know.

Dawes, then in Lachine, Quebec also made a No. 1 Heavy Ale, suggesting Scots influence in the range.

What happened to these breweries? De La Court ceased in 1900 according to the late Allen W. Sneath’s Canadian brewing history. It seems Star Brewing had ceased business as well by that year.

All the rest, excluding Molson’s, merged in 1909 with a few breweries outside Montreal in Quebec, to form National Breweries Limited. Dow, Dawes, Ekers, and Boswell in Quebec City, were the main surviving units. National Breweries later acquired other breweries in the province, notably Frontenac in Montreal, and Champlain in Quebec City. For further details, see on page 8 this financial “historique” of National Breweries in a Quebec newspaper in 1930.

Toronto industrialist E.P. Taylor’s Canadian Breweries Ltd. (CBL) acquired National Breweries in 1952. In 1989 the successor of CBL, O’Keefe Brewing, merged into Molson’s. The canny Molsons ended with it all, today sharing control with the Coors family and the whole shebang now run from Chicago. But Geoff Molson, of the seventh generation, is still actively involved in management.

La Presse cited various names as likely to be long remembered in Montreal brewing, but the Molsons, given relatively short shrift in its coverage, ended up claiming that honour.

Note re images: the first image was sourced from the story identified and linked in the text. The second, from a later period in Montreal brewing history, is from the City of Montreal’s online exhibition,To Get a Drink You Have to Sell, which memorializes Dawes brewing history.  All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owners, as applicable. Used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.





India Pale Ale in 1867 Canada – Heady Brew

I’ve uncovered a significant report on Canadian beer strength in 1867, from a study by a Quebec-based, chemistry préparateur. The French term means what we would call today a university “TA”, or teacher’s assistant. The report was written in French and published only in Quebec, but was also serialized in various Quebec newspapers that year.

I searched for, but could not locate, an English version, I believe none was prepared. The author was A.C.P. R. (Phillipe) Landry. His biography is in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, see here. He wrote the study when at Laval University in Quebec City. He was trained in chemistry and agronomy, and later became a noted federal politician. He died in 1919.

To my knowledge, his work has not been previously cited in Canadian beer historical studies.

I have made extensive searches to determine beer strength in mid-1800s Canada, for practical purposes this meant for ale and porter. Little hard information was available. Based on a variety of sources, it appears strength varied, including in the United States, from five to nine percent ABV. It depended on the region, the brewer, and type of beer made.

Some of the reputed Albany Ales for example –  relevant as New York State is adjacent to parts of Quebec and Ontario – seem to have been at the higher end. I cited references in my recent article in the UK-based journal Brewery HistoryFleming’s Golden Ale“.

Ale brewed at Helliwell Brewery in Toronto around 1830 may have been 9% abv according to a history of Toronto breweries by Jordan St. John, but there is little solid data (Landry apart) until the 1890s. In that period, the federal Government reported assays on a wide range of India pale and pale ales.

By then, these beers were 5-6%, which are IMO by weight in the summary linked, therefore, 6-7% abv.* The average in the 1867 study was, by my calculation, 8.4% abv. 6-7% abv represents about a 23% decline. This is consistent with a long-term drop in beer gravities internationally, until craft brewing came along.

You may read Landry’s report here, the full title is Boissons Alcooliques Et Leurs Falsifications. See the data at pp. 29 et seq. This is an extract showing the average he calculated for four breweries:

The percentages are by volume, based on internal evidence. For example, he states that whisky is generally 50-60% alcohol, which suggests ABV in my view. Also, he states that Parkes in his (English) brewing text sets out alcohol percentages from one to 10 for beer. That was evidently by volume as the equivalent values by weight and in British Proof were listed in adjacent columns.

Hence, the Canadian beers had to have fairly high starting gravities, in some cases around 1085 and more, and rather inconsistent ones as well. The alcohol level for Labatt’s India Pale Ale was (an average) 9% ABV, and for Dow again, 8.53%.

The four breweries were McCallum in Quebec City, Boswell in the same, Labatt in “CW” (Canada West), also called Upper Canada in the report, and Dow in Montreal.

In my opinion, this is further evidence that IPA was originally a strong beer, 8-9% ABV, as I argued in this essay. Canada was a British colony until the very year of 1867. Due to distance, the small number of settlers, and limited communications and transport, colonies often preserved practices later abandoned in the metropole. Many foods show this, pulled pork, say, which is originally an English preparation (the pulled meat aspect certainly).

Nonetheless, some English IPA remained strong, at what I consider the “historic” end of the range. It is known that pale ale from Salt Brewery in Burton was 9.8% ABV in 1862 as I discussed here, even stronger than the Canadian pale ales noted of 1867. Dow IPA was still quite strong in the 1890s but this appeared an exception for Canadian pale ale and IPA as then tested.

India Pale Ale was new in 1867 at Labatt in London, Ontario, having been introduced by John Labatt II after a brewing apprenticeship in West Virginia between 1859 and 1864. So, is the data of Landry extra-important as reporting the strength of one of Canada’s early and most reputed and longest-lived IPAs? Yes, but in a roundabout way.

Landry examined India Pale Ale from the Labatt Brothers firm in Prescott, Ontario. That was a different brewery than Labatt in London. It was operated by two elder brothers of John Labatt II who were excluded from the London brewery by their father, John Kinder Labatt.

The Prescott operation was originally established by the American George Weatherall Smith, precisely the man with whom John Labatt II studied IPA brewing in Wheeling, West Virginia. John Labatt II also worked with Smith in Prescott c. 1865, until Smith went home. See my discussion and references in this post.

Labatt II then returned to London to grow the Labatt we know today, and his brothers took over brewing in Prescott. For this reason, I think it is safe to say all three brothers made one and the same IPA.

Prescott did not prosper, ultimately. Later on, when run by brother George, it was absorbed into the London Labatt business, see some details in Alan Sneath’s beer history.

The above ties in well, in my view, to Racey’s Strong West India Ale, a Quebec City beer advertised in 1837 in the Montreal Herald.

“India” is the common link. Whether stylistically Racey was an India Pale beer, as I believe it was, or not, is less important. Putting it a different way, I infer that Canadian brewers initially followed the original (Hodgson) IPA standard of c. 1800, but caught up to Bass and Allsopp later in the century. That is, by better controls on their gravities, they sold more units of lower gravity than earlier, hence stayed competitive and more profitable.

Yet, despite Bass, Allsopp and other IPA brewers who brewed at c. 6% abv, some English brewers continued the older way through the Victorian period, at least for top-grade IPA. Salt did, indubitably in my view. That is, it didn’t just ramp up by a few percentage points, because it could, a beer that had always been c. 6% ABV; rather, it simply continued the original tradition.

This is on top of the evidence I marshalled in the earlier post that the original IPA was a strong beer.

Finally, Hubert LaRue in his 1881 book (also in French) that I discussed in 2016, states that Quebec beers averaged 7-8% G.L. (abv) in a study he performed years earlier. In fact, Larue was Landry’s supervising professor at Laval, as the Dictionary of Canadian Biography confirms.

Larue included no technical data to support his lapidary statement, or even the beer types. Landry’s report of 1867 provides the vital missing link. And indeed 7-8% abv corresponds essentially to Landry’s data, as McCallum’s average abv was 7.76%. To quibble that 8.9% is not 9% is bootless. Larue’s remarks may be viewed at p. 199, here.






Of Rectitude and Recreation (Part II)

Clan Lindsay? I hardly Knew ye

In my Part I, I discussed Ford Moynes’ interview with a 1920s Ontario moonshiner. It proved if nothing else that the public image of Ontario, long considered the most “proper” Canadian province, was a simplification.

No society likes to bruit its underbelly, and less so in the past than now, but hardly out of the Victorian era, scofflaws abounded – at all levels of society. Essentially Prohibition encouraged widespread disobedience, just as it did in the United States. Moonshining and illegal trade in liquor were emblematic. The Temperance cause hadn’t died, but it was tempered, one might say.

Moynes had addressed liquor before, but now turned his attention to the licit industry, at least for what was sold in Ontario. Read his account here, a column from 1967 in the Lindsay Daily Post. 

He explains that a “Scotch” whisky, Clan Lindsay, was produced by the Lindsay Distillery in the late 1920s, but had no cachet. The reason, he offers, is imported Scotch was blended with alcohol made in Lindsay. So Clan Lindsay was probably a blended whisky, one that combined grain neutral spirits (perhaps aged, this isn’t clear) distilled in Lindsay with genuine Scotch whisky.

The 1967 article refers to an earlier column on Clan Lindsay, see here, useful for additional detail.

Canadian law at one time allowed this type of blend to be sold under a “Highland” or similar designation. The regulations may changed since then, I haven’t checked.

Based on my research including in Toronto Star archives, the venture was financed in 1927 by a public issue of securities. Sir Henry Pellatt, the well-known Canadian financier, was a leading member of the venture. The business, according to a prospectus in the Toronto Star, comprised both beverage and industrial alcohol components.

Two brands at least are recorded, an American Club and the Clan Lindsay. Some accounts refer to the “Scotch” as Lindsay Clan.

I have not been able to locate an image of either. Likely this is due to the short duration of the venture. The Lindsay Distillery filed a bankruptcy assignment in Toronto in 1930, so things hadn’t gone well at least under the original management.

The distillery was built around an old grist mill on the Scucog River. Its large grindstone was among the oldest in Ontario. Pictured below, courtesy Toronto Public Library, is an earlier scene on the Scucog. The large buildings on the left and smokestack were the granary and mill, later incorporated in the distillery as mentioned.

It appears the distillery was purchased in 1932 by Distillers Corporation-Seagram. Moynes has it operating until 1935 but the trail grew cold for me after the purchase.

A probable reason the business sagged is that Hiram Walker in Windsor, ON sued Lindsay Distillery for violating its Canadian Club trademark. Lindsay Distillery lost at trial, appealed, and lost again. The trial judge indicated he had only heard of one “Club” whisky, Canadian Club, hence an inference of “passing off” was irresistible.

This surely delivered a blow, as presumably American Club was intended not just for sale in Ontario, but to help parch a still-dry America. It’s an interesting legal point whether Hiram Walker would have won had liquor not been legal in Ontario when the decisions were rendered. It seems obvious Hiram Walker could not have sued in the U.S., as the sale of liquor was still illegal, until the end of 1933.

Had Pellatt got his group together in the early 20s, with American Club simply an export product, I’d think he may have won the day. Maybe those among our readership who can be called (in technical terms I hasten to add) “my learned friends”, will offer their view (on a gratuitous basis, please).

Although the tenure of Clan Lindsay was brief, Moynes remembered the brand and probably had sampled it, as he was 30 in 1928. Offering his opinion on its quality – a rather informed one – was rather bold for an Ontario newspaper in 1967. Overall, his columns were relaxed or down-home in style, so probably few noticed.

It’s often considered that between the wars, the Big 5 Ontario distillers (listed in my Part I) were the only authorized distillers in Ontario. Not so. Apart from Lindsay Distillery, whose full name was Lindsay Distilleries Limited, there were beverage distilleries in Sarnia and Port Colborne. They opened after booze became legal again in 1927.

Might there be a bottle of Clan Lindsay in the corner of a manse basement in Lindsay, or elsewhere in Victoria County? Covered with dust, not appreciated for what it is? I’d wager yes, but finding it is another matter.

More soon about the other two distilleries, maybe.





Of Rectitude and Recreation (Part I)

 Ford Moynes Explains R & R, Ontario-style

When you read enough about the history of liquor in Ontario, you realize that despite our decorous image (always a Janus face to some extent), plenty of shenanigans took place. Bootlegging has been fairly well documented at the organized level, where legal distillers found ways to supply the illicit U.S. market often in hand with crime syndicates.

This article by Craig Pearson in the Windsor Star in 2014 discussed how whisky legally made in Windsor and supposedly consigned to legal markets outside Canada found its way to Detroit with the help of gangster Al Capone.

But small-scale moonshining occurred a-plenty in Ontario in the 1920s, to supply local wants during the liquor ban (1916-1927). This has been much less documented, in part for obvious reasons. Also, when the public tone in Ontario finally permitted discussion of such issues, most who remembered the bad old days, offenders and others, had died.

Still, there are nuggets if you look. Ford Moynes (pictured) was an old-time country newspaperman in Lindsay, Ontario. Writing easy-going but lightly ironic pieces in the local press, the Kawarthas-based scribe occasionally discussed our bibulous history, including the darker corners.

An article in 1968 chronicled the memories of a 1920s moonshiner in Gooderham, ON, in Haliburton County. I wonder if it could have appeared in the Toronto Star or Globe and Mail at the time, so strong was the image of Toronto the Good then.

I must allow the possibility, if only because Moynes was a correspondent for both said newspapers, according biographical information in the Kawartha Lakes Public Library archive.

The ex-moonshiner supplied an avid need for alcohol around Gooderham and in Lindsay, for parties, and other usual human purposes. (Moynes explains the irony of the town’s name). And the women drank as much as the men, a facet of the public vs. private reality Moynes reveals.

The whisky was considered good quality, made in copper stills, initially from a variety of grains until wheat was settled on as best.

Some was delivered in kegs but clearly none of it was aged long. One wonders how good it was even after two or three runs in the still. Usually such whisky has a “fresh dough” taste, if not the marked chemical tang of “white dog”.

Be that as it may, it sold like the proverbial wildfire. Moynes’ interlocutor was never arrested but after a close call with liquor inspectors, finally gave up the moonshining. He made lots of money, but claims not to have hung on to it: easy come, easy go, as he put it. Or was that a gambit to keep in good graces of Moynes readers who knew who he was?

Moynes had more to tell of Ontario’s 1920s relationship to booze. One story concerned a legal distillery and no, not Wiser’s, Corby, Seagram, Hiram Walker, or Gooderham & Worts.  There is even a Scottish connection. More soon.

For our Part II, see here.

(Source of both images is the Kawartha Lakes Public Library Digital Archive).



Labatt’s Replica 1840s Brewery

When we was Craft

In 1967, following two years of research, Labatt Breweries of Canada Ltd. built a replica, called The London Brewery, of the 1847 brewery of John Kinder Labatt and Samuel Eccles in London, Ontario. Their brewery had its origins in a brewery built by George Balkwill in 1828 on Simcoe Street. It was later acquired by Samuel Eccles with whom John Labatt partnered in 1847. Eccles exited the partnership in 1853, whence it was called John Labatt Brewery.

The replica was a centennial project, a popular pastime in sunny 1960s Canada: celebrating in one’s unique way the 100th anniversary of Confederation (1867-1967). Many companies had such projects as a way to boost employee morale, and this was Labatt’s.

In craft beer circles of 2019 The London Brewery, which can still be toured in London, seems of little resonance. This is due I believe to a number of factors. First, London, while an important regional centre, is 120 miles from Toronto, the centre of Ontario’s craft brewing culture.

Second, the exhibit commemorates a pre-craft national brewer, now internationally owned (AB In Bev). Big brewers tend not to enter the preoccupations of the craft bubble, shall we say. Many oppose large companies for their size, or scale, really, which never made sense to us, especially as most big brewers now offer some characterful beer, the type craft enthusiasts said they always wanted.*

Third, since 1993 the London Brewery is part of Fanshawe Pioneer Village, so a visit entails visiting the general attraction itself, which will interest only some beer fans of course.

Yet, as I’ve learned even without seeing it, the London Brewery is well worth visiting. A short article by Bryan Andrachuk, linked in this page on Fanshawe’s website, explains the great historical care Labatt’s took in recreating the pioneer brewery, down to sourcing period logs (from old structures) to build it.

A full brewing plant is included on the second floor – mashing tun, bricked in kettle, underlet, fermenting vat, paddles, wood barrels, all the paraphernalia to brew beer in 1840s Ontario.

We know this from a July 2009 posting on a homebrewing forum, text and numerous images, by an American from Detroit who had visited the site.

Obviously he did not cover everything but what he did show explains much about the depth and authenticity of the exhibit. He even shows a pail of “brown malt”. Hence, even 10.5 years ago, and possibly from 1967, in either case before beer historians revved up interest in authentic porter recreations, Labatt knew that porter malt was used in the 1840s and took care to find some for the exhibit.

I first learned of the replica brewery through the 1975 The Great Canadian Beer Bookwhich I bought in the late 1970s. It pictures a man in his early 20s at the exhibit handling a barrel. He portrayed the brewer and probably led the tour. I think the older man shown in the 2009 posting, in pioneer-era costume, may be the same person, and perhaps has the same job today.

I intend to get down to London soon to visit the London Brewery. The Fanshawe attraction seems well-planned (see website) and worth a visit unto itself. 

A second pioneer brewery recreation in Ontario was Black Creek’s in North York, Toronto, at Black Creek Pioneer Village, which portrays an 1860s Ontario settlement. Black Creek’s was different from Labatt’s effort, focusing more on the beer rather than replicating the fit-out of a Victorian village brewery. Black Creek’s brewery was a valid exercise, in part due to the excellent beer brewed there, which did use period techniques such as natural cooling of the wort. Sadly, brewing ceased onsite at the end of 2018, and has not resumed, to my knowledge.

But it shows a key difference from Labatt’s replica. Neither The Great Canadian Beer Book nor the 2009 account mentions beer being made in the replica or at least available onsite to complement the exhibit historically.

Back in 1967, the replica was housed next to the Labatt brewery, and probably figured in the regular brewery tour. Visitors would get a drink at the end of the tour in Labatt’s bar. Labatt IPA was available then, the latter-day golden ale version, likely quite different from what Labatt and Eccles brewed. For one thing, the Labatt brewery did not brew IPA until John Labatt II introduced it in the late 1860s.

Anyway in 1967 the idea of brewing a genuine 1840s beer would not have occurred to Labatt management, this wasn’t on anyone’s radar then.

The replica brewery was moved to Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London in 1993 according to Bryan Andrachuk’s account. That was a chance to introduce a brewing element and make a genuine period beer. However, being a family entertainment venue, even had the idea occurred to the planners, probably it was dismissed due to not fitting the family ethos. This was a time too when craft brewing had little recognition by the general public.

(There is a cafe for visitors, and licensed receptions and weddings are held in parts of the Village, but there is no public bar, as far as I know).

Black Creek’s brewery started up later, and took advantage of an evolving public attitude to drinking and craft beer. Something similar happened with the start-up of Mill St Brewery in the Distillery District in Toronto c. 2000.

Still, there is much to drink in at the London Brewery today, of pedagogic and entertainment value, which forms its own reward. And if “craft” doesn’t describe Labatt’s 1840s brewery, I don’t know what does.

Note re image above: sourced from the website of Fanshawe Pioneer Village linked in the text.


*We are also not persuaded by arguments that large companies tend to co-opt craft culture, for example by disguising their ownership of craft-seeming units. Today, anyone with a phone, which is everyone, can at a stroke or two find out who owns a beer label, or brewpub chain. Most patrons probably don’t care, which renders the issue moot for them. For those who do, they can find the information with little effort, just asking staff often explains everything. While we support maximum disclosure, those who skirt the issue are simply engaging in the time-honoured practice of “puffery”, legally permissible exaggeration. And many small brewers engage in essentially similar puffery. As I recall, Creemore in Ontario prior to its sale to Molson-Coors used to say it was “100 years behind the times”. Well, not really. There were no aluminum or stainless steel tanks then, no brewhouse sanitation such as we have today, single cell yeast isolation was in its infancy, and so forth. But Creemore was making a general point, that it made all-malt beer, non-pasteurized, of full taste. I understood the purport of the claim and never felt mislead.







Allsopp’s 1911 Cask/Keg Beer (Part II)

Moving along, let’s consider this article, published 12 years after Allsopp’s sends pale ale in small kegs to New York. It was by Walter Scott, called “Draught Beer for the Private Trade”, published in what is now the Journal of the Institute of Brewing.

I think it is safe to say that the technical discussion in Scott’s article did not reflect anything new in the industry since 1911, other than the author’s modification of the tapping system for cask beer. Certainly Scott made no claims of novelty for the background he described, at least intra industry.

Beer, of course, had always been sent to private homes and country estates. Smaller containers were used than the standard 36 gal. barrel for pubs and hotels. A firkin, holding 9 gal., or pin, 4.5 gal., were typical containers. The Allsopp’s Pale Ale advertised in “automatic casks” of 1.5 and 3 gal. (possibly American units), was clearly a specialty item, perhaps meant for seasonal or export trade, but the standard pin was functionally similar.

The article advises how brewers can sell more beer for the private or family trade, as well as formerly isolated country pubs finding flat beer an issue due to legions of “motorists” now arriving at their door. He considered two types of small barrel, first, the traditional cask (real ale), second, a barrel that held chilled and filtered beer under pressure.

It is clear from his remarks that cask ale often went flat in firkin or pin casks. This reflected a broader issue of concern to British brewing through the 19th century – flat beer was not just a foreign talking point, in other words. Scott made clear, as many real ale fans know, that a properly conditioned beer – naturally conditioned in cask – offered a satisfactory level of carbonation.

He came up with a personal improvement, which as I understand it, placed not just the tapping hole at the bottom of the round cask head (as invariable for any real ale cask today), but also the cork or bunghole via which the barrel was filled. In other words, for a cask set in tapping position, there was no shive hole at the top “over” the beer level.

He invented a special tap to ensure the beer would still flow. He also discusses priming, or adding sufficient sugar solution, to deliver enough natural carbonation to ensure condition and “displacement” of the beer when drawn.

If I get what he is saying, under his system, there was enough pressure in the cask to force the beer out. It wasn’t dispensed by gravity or only that, but by the pressure of the beer in the cask.

He discusses as well, as an alternate method, chilling and filtering beer for kegging in a way to permit the flow on tapping: he says to fill it only two-thirds, and adjust the top pressure at a level (see article) to ensure the beer will exit the keg. As earlier noted, he does not explain this as new, and in fact refers to some chilled and filtered beer being sent to the trade in the south (he spoke in Birmingham), but states no brewer in the Midlands was using this system.

He makes clear his aversion to this chilled and filtered draft beer, on grounds of palate. Of course, commercial expediency finally pushed matters in a different direction, via development of mass-marketed keg beer and lager from the 1960s.

He uses the term “automatically” once in relation to condition. Interestingly, he relates it, not to chilled and filtered beer, but the opposite: cask ale. He explained that cask ale conditions itself automatically. This is true, in the sense that one doesn’t need to inject the beer with CO2 or nitrogen gas.

In this light, I think Allsopp’s “automatic” cask may have been naturally conditioned beer, perhaps using a nifty term thought to appeal to 20th century Manhattanites. Scott seems clearly to indicate that a high condition can be achieved in cask ale, enough to force it all out. (We know this was true of course with highly krausened American beer casks of the same period, gas injection was not necessary to get the beer out).

So, especially with air hand-pumped in, maybe that was Samuel Allsopp’s pale ale in the automatic cask. On the other hand – see my comment to Part I – we know Allsopp’s was instrumental before WW I in devising technology for chilling and filtering beer…

I don’t know the final answer, but incline that the 1911 keg was an early form of keg beer as understood today.

Finally, on a more general plane of cask ale vs. keg beer, read carefully pg. 738 of the article. Our old friend Memel wood appears, and Scott asserts with confidence that the best beer for palate, condition, and stability was delivered in casks well-made from this wood. The way he talks about metal in contrast, makes one think the Memel beer must have been rather special.

The beer filling in the image above of c. 1950 was almost certainly into Memel oak.

Note re image: the image above  is from the website of the historic Timothy Taylor brewery in Britain, see its gallery of historical images. Image is sole property of Timothy Taylor’s. Used here for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed. 


Allsopp’s 1911 Cask/Keg Beer (Part I)

I won’t cite chapter and verse for a matter well-known to beer historians: Watney’s Red Barrel was a pressurized draft beer (ale) developed in the 1930s following experiments to develop a stable barrel beer for export to India, and to supply domestic trade needing draft beer served non-continuously.

There were apparently, as well, experiments by some brewers in the 1920s with bulk pressurized beer, some was sent (containers) to London pubs with high turnover.

As far as I know, no commercially produced keg beer, i.e., filtered to be bright, gas-charged, perhaps pasteurized, has been documented before World War I. An advertisement that appeared at least twice in a New York newspaper in 1911 seems to show such a product.

It was called the Automatic Cask, advertised for Christmas in the Evening Telegram. The beer itself was Allsopp’s Pale Ale.

The woman seems to be using a hand pump, perhaps the type used today for party kegs that forces air into a CO2 pressurized container. Yes, the air will spoil the beer before very long but the idea is quick consumption, as surely with Allsopp’s automatic cask which was available in small, 1.5 and 3 gal. sizes.

The sizes suggest the market was private homes, clubs, restaurants, and perhaps specialty bars in New York.

A close look shows the faucet about half-way up the standing cask, so the contents had I think to be under pressure. The foam on the glasses seems the type generated by the usual fizzy beer. The term automatic, too, seems to suggest a ready made fizzy beer.*

In this period, Allsopp, the great Burton brewer that helped popularize India Pale Ale around the world, was in receivership. Its affairs were restructured and it continued in business, but it makes sense the business was looking for a silver bullet to restore financial health. As ever, technological innovation is one way, and this automatic cask beer perhaps was an attempt to build a new channel of trade.

This automatic cask must be distinguished from so-called automatic cask systems of the 1890s that were levering systems, designed to lower a true cask (for cask ale) from a cradle or stillions to extract as much clear beer as possible without disturbing the sediment.

If it was keg beer, perhaps had WW I not intervened, the keg beer revolution (in U.K.) of the 1960s-1970s would have happened much earlier, under the appellation automatic cask. It has a nice Futurist ring.

Note re image: image above was sourced from the 1911 press advertisement linked in the text, via the Fulton History website. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.


*I claim no advanced expertise in technic of beer dispense, so any other ideas welcome.