Montreal Blind Beer Tasting 1978

In 1978 Radio-Canada TV held a blind beer tasting of 18 brands then manufactured in Quebec. You can see them at the start of this archival clip (the first clip in the group).

This is all in the French language. The announcer drew attention to a beer newly placed on the market, La Cervoise, but did not identify the others.

The image shows what they were though.

From left to right, Labatt Blue, Labatt Porter, Heidelberg, Dow Kingsbeer, Molson Porter, La Cervoise, Laurentide Ale, Brador Malt Liquor, Carling Black Label (lager), Dow Ale, Labatt 50 Ale, Molson Export Ale, Carlsberg (lager), O’Keefe Ale, Molson Golden Ale, Guinness Stout, Champlain Porter, and Molson Canadian (lager).



The tasters, a group of young men and women, couldn’t pick their favourites for the most part.

It seems no stout or porter was served, for obvious reasons, but few drank these anyway in Canada by then.

Clearly, mass-market beers – and there were no others except a few imports with a tiny market – were rather uniform in taste. It confirms what many have said of the period.

Would I have done better? I think so. I attended similar tastings in that period, and got most of the tastes. The beers were actually not “the same”, but unless one knew what to look for, had training so to speak, results as seen here were the norm.

The industry knew this and relied largely on advertising to distinguish the products. It was the same in the United States. And many other places. Craft beer changed it, but it took quite a while.




2 thoughts on “Montreal Blind Beer Tasting 1978”

  1. Gary,
    My wife and I visited her relatives in southern Ontario regularly in the late 70s (her ordained grandfather married us, unofficially, in Windsor in 1976). I would pick up ales and porters at the Beer Store to sample them. Labatt 50 and IPA were pretty good, but the Molson and Carling ales didn’t impress me then. The porters seemed fairly tasty at the time. I’m sure an interested taster could have made some distinctions, even among the lagers.

    • Thanks Arnold, that’s interesting. By then I had the benefit of tasting some good home brews (not my own but others’), imports, and early craft beers, so I had a basis of comparison too.

      I agree with all your assessments. 50 had a definite estery smell and taste it lacks now, IMO, and the Labatt IPA was fairly tasty although quasi a lager even then. Molson Porter was good, and Champlain Porter (in Quebec) sweet and with a liquorice taste.

      The Molson was rather like Yuengling Porter or that other one … (can’t recall name, also from the Northeast) used to be.

      But still it’s interesting that the tasters in that clip couldn’t tell really between the ales and lagers.


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