Carling Brewery Toronto, 1962

Once again, a volume of Brewing Trade Review issues from 1962 provides rich context for beer historians.

Eg. Guinness built a new ship, The Lady Patricia, to transport refrigerated, steel-and-aluminum tanks of beer to Britain and beyond (p. 1064). The article notes how wood cask shipment is almost of the past.

Britain’s oldest claimed brewery, Tomson & Wotton of Ramsgate is profiled, p. 840. Later bought out and closed by Whitbread (sound familiar?).

Guinness’s recent launch of Harp lager is covered, with details of its dedicated, rebuilt brewery at Dundalk, p. 592. Information on the Harp launch is available elsewhere but there is always a new twist.

And note how Guinness is positioned as championing lager in Ireland, paralleling its asserted role to revive Irish ale, via notably the Phoenix brand.

Review writer John Levett profiled Carling beer in the United States but in fact, mostly described the new, $12,000,000 Carling brewery in Toronto. (See from p. 922). The plant still exists, as Molson-Coors Beverage Co.’s main Canadian brewery.

The tower-like, oblong-shape central building of dark brick with contrasting light frame atop, shown in the article, is still a leitmotif at the plant, on Carlingview Rd. in Etobicoke, Toronto, despite much expansion since.

(Image below is courtesy Canadian Brewing News).



The 1962 article is replete with facts and figures, showing how bustling Toronto – such a different city, then – was selected to showcase the Carling Division of E.P. Taylor’s Canadian Breweries Ltd.

(Canadian Breweries Ltd. was sold to Rothman’s Tobacco in 1969. Its name was changed in the early 1970s to Carling O’Keefe. It merged with The Molson Companies in 1989, and Molson later joined Coors of Colorado).

Of the many technical points covered, my favourite is the malt mill discussion. So intricate and hushed was the mechanism that a coin placed on edge atop the machine would not topple as it purred away.

This is the Canadian version, or 1962 Canada version, of the small coin placed on the foam cap of a well-poured Guinness – it stays on the foam going down.

1,000,000 bottles a day were produced, or 365,000,000 per year if ran continuously.

The stainless Pfaudler lauter tun from Rochester, New York was claimed as largest in the world. Automated controls are mentioned more than once – the thrall of hi-tech was never more potent, all notions of craft lost ostensibly to gleaming metal and electronic command.

It is interesting to compare today’s output. A recent Toronto Star report, addressing the current lockout at the plant, pegs annual production at 880,000,000 bottles.

That is more than double the output of 1962. The Ontario population in 1962 was about 6,000,000. Now it is c. 14,000,000. The Carling plant would have served mostly Ontario then, with perhaps some shipments to Quebec, but Carling also had plants in Ottawa – Brading’s, a second one in Toronto, O’Keefe, and according to Levett still operating plants in Waterloo and Windsor.*

Carling was in midst of a major U.S. expansion, but that was served by American-based production, as the article explains and is confirmed elsewhere. Indeed Carling, via Carling National Brewery, was on a tear for some years still in the U.S.

O’Keefe and Brading only closed later in the late 60s, when all production was centralized on Carlingview Rd.

Today, as the Star┬ánoted, 20% of the output is a special line exported to the United States. It is evident, even excluding the O’Keefe and Brading production, that the contribution of the Carlingview plant to Ontario per capita consumption has fallen considerably since 1962.

Of course the brewing landscape is vastly different today. Imports play a role unheard of in 1962, not to mention the still-important craft brewing sector. And wine consumption has grown a lot since then.

There were 350 people employed at Carlingview in 1962. Today, per the Star, the complement is 300, with more than twice the output of then. That tells a tale, too.

The daily bottlings equaled, stated the article, 2,100 “kegs”. If my numbers are right, perhaps for the UK audience, a keg here was 36 gal. Imp. Using the hop consumption mentioned in the article, I get 1/3rd lb. hops/bbl., which sounds about right for the time.

What did they produce? Lots of Carling! Perhaps too some ale brands. What does Carling taste like today, as produced at the same plant? Next post.

Note re image: source of image above is identified and linked in text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to lawful owner. Used for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.


*I did not check each case except for O’Keefe and Brading.

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