Carling Brewery, Toronto, 1962

A volume of the U.K.-based Brewing Trade Review in 1962 provides rich content for beer historians.

In the volume, we learn Guinness in Ireland built a new ship, The Lady Patricia, to export beer in refrigerated steel-and-aluminum tanks (p. 1064). The article notes that shipment in wood casks is almost of the past.

Britain’s then-oldest brewery, Tomson & Wotton of Ramsgate is profiled at p. 840. It was 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.

Brewing Trade Review writer John Levett profiled Carling beer in the United States but in fact, mostly described a just-built, $12,000,000 Carling brewery in Toronto. See from p. 922. The plant continues, as Molson-Coors Beverage Co.’s main Canadian brewery.

The tall, oblong-shape central building of dark brick remains a leitmotif of the plant, on Carlingview Rd. in Etobicoke, Toronto, despite alterations since.

(Image below is courtesy Canadian Brewing News).



The 1962 article offers many facts and figures, showing how a bustling Toronto – quite a different city it was, then – was selected as showcase for the Carling Division of E.P. Taylor’s Canadian Breweries Ltd.

(Canadian Breweries Ltd. merged with The Molson Companies in 1989. 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 its edge atop the machine would not fall as it purred away.

1,000,000 bottles a day were produced, 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 diktat of electronic command.

It is interesting to compare output then to today’s. A recent Toronto Star report, addressing a 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 about 14,000,000. The Carling plant would have served mostly Ontario then, with perhaps some shipments to Quebec.

Carling had other plants in Ontario though. It had Brading’s in Ottawa, and a second plant in Toronto, O’Keefe Brewery. According to Levett there were also operating plants in both Waterloo and Windsor, Ontario.

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

O’Keefe and Brading only closed later in the late 1960s, when all production was centralized on Carlingview Rd.

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

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

350 people were employed at Carlingview in 1962. Today, says the Star, the complement is 300, with more than twice the output of 1962. That tells a tale right there.

Daily bottlings equaled, said the 1962 article, 2,100 kegs. Using the hop consumption mentioned in the article, I get about 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? See 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.


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