expo 67 lounge

Mid-century fashion, vintage pop culture and retro cool... from Expo 67 and beyond.

21 April 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 dépanneur!

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



Anonymous Ron said...

Great site you have here.

5:28 pm  
Blogger Jason Stockl said...

Thanks! :-)

7:45 pm  
Anonymous Pluche said...

Great article! Remind me to show you some old Labatt 50's ads in some old fifties Reader's Digest mags I have.

9:17 pm  
Blogger Teena Marie Fancey said...

I was 11 yrs old when that ad aired...and as I watched and it came to the jingle, I knew the words and the tune!

Btw, I just love your site.

4:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canadian Grand Prix in Ottawa? Mosport is closer to Oshawa.

9:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Working man's beer is right! I'll never forget when I was driving through Hamilton from Toronto and decided to get a case of beer in the steel city--everyone in line in front of me simply said "Five-oh" and they all were delivered two-fours of 50.

9:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but MOSPORT is not in Ottawa its in Bowmanville ON, My Dad had had this sticker on his snap-on toolbox when I was a kid. He used to race A production corvettes there in 1963-64 Thanks for the memory

4:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Interesting how many people think it was the fact that 50 production moved from London to Toronto. The difference in water is huge, and consider it the demise of 50's popularity.

9:53 am  

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