Labatt Brewery Has Shown Us The Power Of Starting Local, While Thinking Global
Labatt Brewery was born in London Ontario and has been a cornerstone of our great city ever since. It’s such an integrated part of London that there are even some days when you walk in downtown London, which is the neighborhood that the brewery is located in, you can smell the fine craftsmanship of the beer right in the air. That is how much Labatt is part of London: it’s literally in the air. What started as just a local brewery has grown into one of the biggest beer companies in Canada, an internationally renowned brewery, and is now a household name.
London is Labatt’s largest brewery and it’s part of our city’s legacy. I mean, you can’t even think about the London Knights, without thinking about Labatt. They have an incredible history, and have over 166 years of brewing excellence. With having over 60 different brands of beer that they expertly craft, consumers are sure to find a favorite or two.
But while you might know Labatt as tasty and dependable beer, the truth is that the company is so much more than that. Labatt is an incredible company that London should be proud of. They have been adaptive and ahead of the game, and have shown true Canadian spirit in their business ventures. Cracking a Labatt beer is doing more than enjoying a tasty cold beverage. Cracking a Labatt beer is supporting a company that has put the consumer first, that has started from humble beginning, and that has grown up with our great city.
John Kinder Labatt was an Irishman who came to London, Ontario Canada in the 1800s. Around a decade after arriving, he wrote to his wife to tell her that he had decided in a change of occupations: “I have been considering this brewing affair for some time and think it would suit me better than anything else”. So in 1847 he found a partner in Samuel Eccles and the two purchased London’s Simcoe Street brewery. By 1855, John Kinder became the sole owner of the brewery, and later he renamed the company to John Labatt’s Brewery.
John Kinder Labatt was a smart businessman and he knew that the Great Western Railway was the best way to expand his business outside of the city of London, Ontario. Because of this, his beer empire was able to be expanded to sales within Toronto, Montreal, and even the Maritimes. Suddenly, John Labatt Brewery was more than just a local brewery, and was on its way to becoming a beer empire.
John’s son, John Labatt Jr, became involved in the beer business at a very early age. He apprenticed at a brewery in West Virginia. He came back to Canada after his apprenticeship was over, and took over the family business once his father passed away in 1866.
John Labatt Jr. was committed to quality and innovation. He crafted an incredible recipe for an IPA (India Pale Ale) that was award winning. It won the Dominion of Canada Exposition silver metal in 1876 in Ottawa. That IPA won awards and prizes in worldwide competitions for the next
35 years. It was the first of many beers that Labatt would brew that would win awards and gain international recognition.
By 1899 there was in increasing demand for Labatt products in the Toronto area, so steps were taken to meet that demand by opening a sales office and small warehouse. They also appointed an agency in Montreal in 1878 for product distribution.
Prohibition began in Canada in 1915, and any breweries that wanted to survive had to be mart. Luckily, Ontario was one of the provinces that allowed for beer to be produced solely for exporting (some provinces didn’t allow the manufacturing and distribution of alcohol entirely). Labatt’s quickly shifted its business and survived the prohibition through exporting beer south of the border, as well as producing beer that had less than two percent alcohol content for Ontario.
Once the prohibition ended, many of the original breweries didn’t make it, and Labatt was one of only 15 remaining breweries. Not only that, but Labatt was the only one that had kept its original management. Because of this, they were in a position of strength for the future.
In 1934, John S. Labatt was kidnapped by gangsters for three full days. They didn’t harm him, and finally released him at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. This ordeal shook John S Labatt a lot and made him a bit more a hermit. Because of this, the company needed someone to step up so Hugh MacKenzie stepped up as an important figure for the company, and became the general manager.
Labatt’s has had a long and interesting history, and is a company and a brand that we can be proud of to have started in our great city.
Part of the Community
Big companies that give back are the companies that are worth supporting. Labatt is one of those companies. They give back within the community, with fundraising initiatives, and with being environmentally responsible.
Labatt recognizes that supporting the community that supported them and made them into one of the top Canadian beer brands is important. Because of that, they have a long-standing tradition of providing support for events and activities within the community. They sponsor a ton of events and sports. They sponsor major sports teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, the Vancouver Canucks, the Calgary Flames, the Winnipeg Jets, and the London Knights. They also sponsor recreational sports teams such as slo-pitch, curling, freestyle mountain biking, and wakeboarding. They also sponsor major sporting events like the 1972 summit series, canada cup international hockey tournaments.
Labatt is also responsible for the creation and support of local fundraising initiatives. They strive to make a difference in the world by contributing their time and resources to initiatives in need.
Because we want to live on this beautiful planet for many years to come, Labatt Breweries Canada is committed to using natural resources in sustainable way. London’s Labatt Brewery received 2011 Water Efficiency Award from Ontario Water Works Association. Within 3 years, London reduced it’s water use by 22%.
The Labatt Brewery hosts guided tours for anyone to see the amazing process of making some of the best beer in Canada. Experts lead the tour and can give detailed explanation of the entire operation: processing raw materials, brewing, fermenting, aging, and quality testing. Your tour includes getting to see the bottling process as well, which includes the cleaning, sorting, labelling and packaging for multiple brands of beer. The tour guide will be able to show the blend of ancient and modern skill as well as the newest technology used in the state-of-the-art brewery. The tour lasts about 2 hours and includes getting the actually touch and feel some of the raw ingredients, as well as seeing the truck room that features the 1947 Streamliner and the 1919 Keg Truck. You’ll hear all about Labatt’s history and amazing facts, and you’ll get the chance to ask the expert whatever questions you have in a Q&A session.
All of your senses will be engaged as you tour around and smell the different stages of beer making. At the end of the tour, you get to sample some of the different brands, and will be able to appreciate the subtle differences within each of the delicious beers after learning all about them.
Who They Are
Labatt has one incredible goal: to be the best and most profitable beer company while also creating a better world. They are striving to achieve this by creating bonds with their consumers that lasts. That way, when a consumer has a choice, they’ll choose the Labatt brands again and again, knowing that it’s a brand that they trust and a beer that they enjoy.
Labatt has three driving forces that impacts everything that they do: Dream, People and Culture. We know what their dream is and that dream is shared by all employees, which energizes them to work together. People: Labatt chooses the best people in their employment. The best people are talented people who, with development, challenges, and encouragement, can achieve great things. Lastly, the culture that they create is one that is constantly pushing to be better and better, and never feeling fully satisfied with results so that they are always striving for perfection.
Labatt’s does not believe in short cuts. You can only achieve excellence through hard work, constant improvement, and integrity. They DO believe that common sense and simplicity overrule sophistication for the sake of complexity.
Consumer is boss, when it comes to the kind of company that Labatt chooses to be. They strive to connect with their consumers and make a consumer’s connection to the brand a meaningful experience.
When you think of Labatt, you can think of excellence.
The Labatt Way
Uses only top ingredients. 60 different brands. Top of the line technology for packing and operations. 250 quality checks during the whole process. Labatt maintains one of the largest independent yeast culture collections in North America.
Even though the brewing technologies have advanced, and the equipment that brewers use now have vastly improved, Labatt’s still bases its beer off the 160 year old brewing art form. Each and every step of the brewing process is closely monitored and only the best brew masters watch to balance the brew, which will help to shape the color, aroma and flavor of each different brand.
When it comes to beer, every single ingredient matters in the outcome of the beer, which is why Labatt only chooses the finest quality, starting with the water. They only choose the purest water and then continue to put it through additional filtering and balancing. Yeast is one of the most important parts of beer as it helps give its beer its flavor and also turns sugar into alcohol and Labatt has one the largest independant yeast culture collections within all of North America. The malt used is examined by brew masters before it’s crushed. Labatt is also picky about what kind of hops is used and only use hops from the Northwestern united states, as well as a select few European countries.
While we all know Labatt for giving us dependably tasty beer, we should also recognize the fact that Labatt has won countless awards all across the globe for its incredibly tasty beer. In the 1800s to the 1950s Labatt’s India Pale Ale won 11 awards, 9 of which won gold/first place. Within that time frame they also won awards for their Sout, their Ale, as well as their Porter. From the 1950s to the 1960s the won 12 awards from all around the world, including a gold medal for quality beer. From 1992 to the year of 2000 they won 21 awards. Six of those awards are from the World Beer Cup where beer from all over the world compete for titles. Within the next five years, Labatt went on to win 18 more awards. And awards are just the noteworthy ones.
Beer is a delicious drink that should be enjoyed responsibly. Since Labatt is a leader within the beer industry, they’re also a leader in being the voice of responsibility. They have multiple programs to get information, help, and more out there for everyone who needs it.
Family Talk About Drinking program is a website that has informational videos as well as a guide to help families with making smart decisions and help parents talk with their children.
Take the Pledge is a program that asks Canadians to sign a pledge, promising to not drink and drive. They use billboards and ads to show amazing people who have gone great lengths to avoid drinking and driving.
Be(er) Responsible Day. On this day Labatt employees connect with consumers to share the company’s philosophy on responsible drinking.
Budweiser Good Sport is the most successful designated driver program within the sports world. It encourages fans to volunteer as designated drivers. They also increase awareness to fans by partnering with the stadium, team owners, and concessionaires. Hundreds of thousands of fans within North America have actually done their part to sign up as a designated driver during sports games, which is incredible!
They also use multiple ad campaigns and take an active role in training servers to take action against drinking and driving as well as over consumption.