A CANADIAN CLASSIC REVISITED
Pictured (foreground) is an old Canadian favourite, Labatt 50 Ale.
This beer dates from 1950, and represents a style of ale which used to be called Canadian sparkling ale. This meant it was fermented like an ale, at warm temperature with a top-cropping yeast, but aged cold with the full carbonation and expected clarity of a blonde lager. This type of beer was the commercial norm for ale in North America until craft ales were introduced which themselves represent an older stage in the history of top-fermented beers.
Labatt 50 seems to me to be better than 10 years ago and perhaps more like it was in the 70’s or even earlier. It had a very full estery (fruity) taste, lemon/pineapple-like, some decent, neutral-type bitterness, and a grainy, slightly astringent flavour. The malt base seems clearly to be classic 6-row North American which has a famous “husky” quality. I’d guess there isn’t much or any adjunct in the current version either.
A very creditable pint and left to decarbonate 90% and warm for an hour, it could pass for an almost-still English bitter. The comparison sounds like a stretch but it isn’t. The fullness of taste may be due as well to no, or a lesser form of, pasteurization.
But back to how it normally was/is consumed, this vintage ’71 commercial says it all. The grooving crowd, hopefully all still with us, would be in their late 60’s now, I reckon. Got to get my head around that.