Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Labatt 50

The Labatt Brewing Company was founded by John Kinder Labatt in 1847 in London, Ontario.

In March 1950, Labatt introduced its 50th anniversary ale, commemorating a half-century of business under the leadership of the founder's grandsons, John S. and Hugh Labatt.

The first “light” ale was called "Annie", and later "50". It quickly gained a dedicated following and eventually became Canada’s most popular beer.

Labatt 50 was the working man's beer of the 1960's. From 1968 to 1979, it was the country's best seller.

50's distinctive label, a red 5-0 with green and white background, has remained relatively unchanged over the decades.

A Labatt 50 ad for Expo 67.

In the late 70's, popular taste shifted towards lagers, and 50 fell out of favor. In 1979, Labatt Blue became the company's best-seller, and has been ever since. To this day, the top selling beers in Canada are all lagers (Labatt Blue, Molson Canadian, Coors Lite, Budweiser)...

An ad from 1977, featuring both Labatt 50 and Labatt Blue.

In the early 80's, Canadian brewers started to phase out the iconic stubby in favor of the long-neck beer bottle. By the mid 1980's, 50's reign was over.

Nowadays, Labatt 50 is the has-been of the beer world. While Molson Breweries successfully revived it's classic ale, Molson Export, Labatt 50 has yet to make a true comeback. Loved by some and loathed by others, it's nevertheless a beer that evokes strong emotions... Here in Quebec, "Cinquante" remains popular, and available at any fine d├ępanneur!

I have very fond childhood memories of my grandfather and his Labatt 50. Whether it was habit or what he actually preferred, the ubiquitous green and red logo will always remind me of him.

The 1976 Canadian Grand Prix, held in Ottawa, and sponsored by Labatt 50.

images: (1) canadiandesignresource.ca

(2 and 4) stubby.ca
(3) author's own
(5 and 6) ebay.com

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