Molson Golden Ale

Golden Returns to Ontario

Canadian-brewed Molson Golden Beer has been sold consistently in the States for decades. This ad shows a six-pack image, from a Florida retailer, ABC. The label reads beer, not ale. We stopped seeing Molson Golden in Ontario perhaps 15-20 years ago, but recently it reappeared at The Beer Store and LCBO.

The bottle size and shape, 625 ml or 22 Imp. oz. harks back to the old “quart” of Canadian beer lore. But Molson-Coors Beverage has covered the bottle in a garish tight gold-coloured wrapper. I like the bottle, don’t love the mega-label. I’d have used the same bottle with a standard, maybe gold-coloured paper label.




But the beer, always the beer… By standard Canadian beer histories Molson Golden was introduced in 1954. In a 1956 news ad (Plattsburgh Press-Republican, August 21, 1956) we see the range as advertised in the United States. Media in Ontario carried similar ads (behind paywalls).

It was the trio of Crown & Anchor Lager later re-dubbed Molson Canadian, Molson Golden Ale, and Molson Export Ale.



That Golden presumably was entirely top-fermented. Fast-forward to 1982, James D. Roberston in The Connoisseur’s Guide to Beer writes that an “industry source” told him Golden was “a blend of ale and lager beer” (p. 162). In 1978 Robertson wrote an earlier version of the book, called The Great American Beer Book. He reviewed Molson Golden but did not include the statement about blending.

Quite likely it was such a blend in 1978, as Robertson doesn’t suggest the taste changed in the intervening years. (He was more preoccupied by what he felt was a skunking problem).

In both books he called it lighter and sweeter than Molson Export, which he preferred.

In the 1982 book a Molson Golden label is shown that clearly states “Ale”. It’s a Canadian label, as the French side reads “Bière“. This suggests the ale term was used even though the beer was partly lager. It may still be true today, of course.

Crown & Anchor Lager/Molson Canadian was first produced in Toronto in 1955, an adjunct (rice) brew. In theory, 1954 seems a little early for Molson Golden to be a lager-ale blend. But of course we don’t really know.

Maybe it was, or became, an ale krausened with fermenting lager, as many North American ales were starting from the late-19th century. Perhaps even it was, or is, a blend of Molson Export and Molson Canadian in some way.

The final and real answer is in Molson-Coors’ records.



My History With Molson Golden

I first drank it in the late 1970s when – I’m fairly certain of this – it was new in the Montreal market. Previously it was known elsewhere in Canada but not there. I remember my first taste, at a friend’s place on Northcliff Road in Côte-des-Neiges.

It seemed quite different than Export Ale, is all I can remember at this juncture. Export was then my go-to.

Once craft beer and good imports became more available I did not buy Molson Golden very often if ever.

My Assessment in 2020

I cracked it yesterday ice-cold. That’s the way it was drunk back in the day, and meant to be drunk.

I liked it. It had a lightly malty taste, with evident hops in support. The hop may be Galena as some U.S. sources suggest for Molson Golden Beer. Galena is a high-alpha acid hop that suits this type and scale of brewing.

There is a faint fruity effect from the hop (I think), but nothing obviously “craft”. Good soft carbonation, almost draft-like. If it is a blend of Export Ale and Molson Canadian, I’m good with it.

In contrast, the Coors line – far from a fave of mine – has an evident corny tang, IM0.

I had an Ontario craft pale ale just after which didn’t seem that different, although craft ales are typically more assertive, true.






14 thoughts on “Molson Golden Ale”

  1. Is that label a plastic shrink wrap? If so I’m surprised it does not affect the recyclability of the glass bottle itself and even if it is removed, I’d be surprised if the wrap could be recycled. I guess I could call to find out.
    I was working in the Toronto brewery from 1976 to 1984 but I cannot remember details about Golden, “the liquid” as it was often referred to by those not involved in operations.

    • Hi Michael:

      Plastic shrink yes I think so. I stripped it off with some difficulty using a pen knife to get under the adhesive layer but the bottle wasn’t affected. The bottle is the regular old “quart”, from what I can see, sold at the Victoria Street brewpub you know well.

      I was hoping you could say more about Golden then, but it sounds like you didn’t work on the beer at the time.

      Hope all is well.


  2. Was Molson Stock Ale available in Quebec during your drinking time?
    I only saw it in Ontario. It was the most tasty by far.

    • Not in Quebec, but I’ve known it well in Toronto, where I’ve lived since 1983.

      I still like it, a bottle at Horseshoe Tavern on Queen. 🙂


      • Molson Stock Ale was transferred to the new Molson plant on Fleet St. in 1956. Available in Ontaro as an “export” from Quebec since at least 1927. One can only assume the market for “Stock” must have been Ontario. Incidentally Molson IPA seemed to totally disappear from the Molson portfolio at this time. I have an old Ontaro aluminum draught sign for Molson “Blue” from this period. During the 200th anniversary of Molson in 1986, the Fleet St. Brewery produced a commemorative Molson IPA at 6% & 4 times the hopping of their regular beers. Mike Hancock may know more about this Ale. I never had the heart to broach the bottle. I look forward to tasting the resurrected Golden Ale but my recollection from the 1970s was that it was mainly a light tasting beer for the USA.

  3. Golden was an Ale in the east(Quebec and Ontario). It was a lager in the West (BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan) for many years. I worked for Molson in Manitoba and we didn’t sell it for many years as the company couldn’t or didn’t want to decide which one to introduce.
    Eventually it was introduced as Molson Golden. The label changed Nation wide. It was a flop.

    • Thanks Bill. When the name nationally became just Molson Golden, did it become a lager only (not a blend of ale and lager) everywhere?

      Second, it’s called Golden Ale now in Ontario. Would you think it’s all-ale?


  4. My Dad & Grsmpa swore Golden changed in the late 80s, Grampa switched to Stock and later Stroh’s, Dad to Export which is what my uncle drank as well

    • Hi Peter:

      Thanks for this. If it did change in that period, perhaps it was to a lager only. There are statements over the years by some who thought it became a lager. How did the label read in Ontario before it was withdrawn, do you know? If it said beer not ale, perhaps that is what happened.

      Now though, I’d think it has to be top-fermented at least in part. I don’t think M-C would call it an ale if it was 100% bottom-fermented.


      • Hi Gary,

        Unfortunately I don’t know as I was only about ten at the time of the change, and was only granted a sip when I opened a bottle for them

        • Thanks, I think it was simply Molson Golden based on the other comment.

          I’m still not clear exactly what was in the bottle then, but doesn’t really matter. If you try the new one, I’d be interested what you think.



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