Labatt

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Labatt Brewing Company Ltd. is a Canadian beer company founded by John Kinder Labatt in 1847 in London, Ontario. In 1995, it was purchased by Belgian brewer Interbrew; it is now part of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Labatt is the largest brewer in Canada.

In the United States, Labatt brand beers are sold under license by Labatt USA, which since 2009 has been fully independent of the Canadian firm and a subsidiary of the privately-held North American Breweries of Rochester, New York.

Contents

History

In 1915, Prohibition began in Canada when public bars were banned in Saskatchewan. A year later prohibition was instituted in Ontario as well, affecting all 64 breweries in the province. Although some provinces totally banned alcohol manufacture, some permitted production for export to the United States. Labatt survived by producing full strength beer for export south of the border and by introducing two "temperance ales" with less than two per cent alcohol for sale in Ontario. However, the Canadian beer industry suffered a second blow when Prohibition began in the U.S. in 1919. When Prohibition was repealed in Ontario in 1926, just 15 breweries remained and only Labatt retained its original management. This resulted in a strengthened industry position. In 1945 Labatt became a publicly traded company with the issuance of 900,000 shares.

John and Hugh Labatt, grandsons of founder John K. Labatt, launched Labatt 50 in 1950 to commemorate 50 years of partnership. The first light ale introduced in Canada, Labatt 50 was Canada’s best-selling beer until 1979.

In 1951, Labatt launched its Pilsener Lager; when it was introduced in Manitoba, the beer was nicknamed "Blue" for the colour of its label and the company's support of Winnipeg's Canadian Football League (CFL) franchise, the Blue Bombers. The nickname stuck and in 1979 Labatt Blue claimed top spot in the Canadian beer market. It lost this status in the late eighties to Molson Canadian, but over the next decade, periodically regained top spot as consumer preferences fluctuated. In 2004, Budweiser took the top spot, pushing Blue to third for the first time in twenty-five years.[1][2] However, since Labatt has brewed Budweiser (and other Anheuser-Busch products) in Canada under licence since the 1980s, Labatt likely did not suffer from this shift. Moreover, Labatt Blue remains the best selling Canadian beer in the world based upon worldwide sales[citation needed].

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