A tale of two brews: The reason why you can’t buy Old Style Pilsner in Ontario–and Calgary Beer finally comes back to Calgary!

In a recent conversation I had pertaining to the corporate/government duopoly that reigns over liquor sales in this province, I brought up the case of Pilsner beer (officially known as Old Style Pilsner, but to anyone who grew up out west, it’s Pilsner, or just Pil) not being available anywhere in Ontario.  Which is somewhat puzzling, really, since it’s been a Molson product ever since they bought out Sick’s Brewery in 1958.  In fact, just about half of the wall posts on the beer’s Facebook page are from people asking where they can get it over here.  Sorry folks, but you can’t.

As the brand explains on its website, Molson launched Pilsner in Ontario back in ’92.  But, and this is a direct quote, “Luckily for us, and unluckily for the soon-to-be-unemployed marketing manager, Pil fails to catch on and quickly returns home where it belongs.”  And they say Torontonians are snobs!

Alas, it seems that with everybody chugging OV while watching the Jays win the World Series, Molson was unable to convince Toronto that the beer from the West was the best.  And so, the only way to get Pil in Ontario would be to take a time machine back to 1992, and purchase so much of it that Molson changes its mind–and its marketing strategy.  And while you’re at it, d’ya think you could sign Robbie Alomar to a contract extension? ;)

Speaking of Molson’s marketing, when was the last time you saw anyone drinking Old Vagina, anyways?

Mind you, while the 20th anniversary of Pilsner’s short-lived Ontario run is a cause for mourning for a few Saskies who took a wrong right turn in Moose Jaw and ended up out East, that hardly compares to an even larger alcoholic injustice perpetuated by Molson that has just recently been rectified–albeit for a limited time only.  Did you know that for the better part of three decades, you couldn’t buy Calgary Beer in Calgary!?  In fact, the only place you could find the historic taste of Cowtown for many years was Saskatchewan.  How does that work!?

Well, as The Anchor Weekly explains, the brewery founded by Stampede honcho A.E. Cross in 1892 was sold to Carling O’Keefe in the 60’s, who stopped selling their product to Alberta in 1985.  When Molson bought Carling, they moved production of Calgary Beer to Vancouver (go fucking figure!), and have really only sold it in Saskatchewan since, aside from a couple appearances at the ’88 Olympics and in 1992 to mark its 100th anniversary.

But much like Michael Jordan, Calgary Beer is coming back for a third time, to commemorate the 100th edition of the Calgary Stampede this summer.  They started selling it at Sobey’s and Co-Op last winter, while Original Joe’s is serving it at its Calgary locations–but only until they take down the rides at the Stampede grounds.  Come August, Calgary Beer will once again be exclusive to Saskatchewan.

Man, how many cases do I hafta fly out there and buy to make them rethink that decision? ;)

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7 responses to “A tale of two brews: The reason why you can’t buy Old Style Pilsner in Ontario–and Calgary Beer finally comes back to Calgary!

  1. Interesting stuff, the lore of regional beers. Re: Old Style Pilsner, my gang out here calls them “Styles,” but yeah, Pilsner seems to be the most common nickname. A bartender recently told me that kids nowadays call it “Vitamin P,” but I’m not even taking that into consideration.

    As I recall, Old Style was a Carling O’Keefe’s product before Molson took them over. Maybe that was just in B.C.

    • Y’know, it wouldn’t surprise me that it was Carling O’Keefe who bought out Sick’s Brewery in ’58, before being swallowed up by Molson in the late 80’s. Mind you, I took that piece of information straight off the Pilsner site, so it seems like a bit of revisionist history on the parent company’s part, heh heh…

      If I was a bartender and somebody asked me for some “Vitamin P,” I’d probably piss in a glass and serve it to them. Either that, or give ‘em a PBR. Tastes about the same, anyways!

  2. Pingback: Party at Queen’s Park—Tim Hudak’s bringing the (privatized) booze! | Gruesome Views

  3. Pingback: Do you want a breathalyzer with that case of Old Style Pilsner? | Gruesome Views

  4. Pingback: This just in: You CAN buy Old Style Pilsner in Ontario! | Gruesome Views

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