Decades ago one beer that often turned up at our dinner table either at home or away in Canada was Carling Black Label.
Dad is gone, so is Black Label from local shelves. But we read that it still exists. we are glad as it a beer with a long history.
Although its original focus was on ale, Carling has been brewing lager-style beers in Canada since the 1870s. In 1927, as part of an overall corporate re-branding effort under new president J. Innes Carling, the company renamed its already popular Black & White Lager to Black Label.
Three years later, Carling was purchased by Toronto business tycoon E.P. Taylor, who merged the company into his Canadian Breweries Limited (CBL), which grew to be the world’s largest brewing company, at least for a time. Under Taylor, Black Label was promoted as CBL’s flagship brand and went on to become the world’s first beer to be brewed on a mass international scale, becoming particularly popular in Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
In response to a shift in popular taste away from ale, Carling added a three-story lager plant to their main London, Ontario brewery in 1877.Carling’s Lager (later renamed Carling’s Bavarian Stock Lager, and then Carling’s Imperial Club Lager) was the company’s first lager brand. Carling’s Black & White Lager was introduced in the 1920s and later renamed Black Label Lager, in contrast to their recently launched Red Cap Ale.
Due to its strength and price, the brand quickly became popular with the country’s working class, perhaps most famously among the loggers and miners of Northern Ontario, where the brand gained a tough, blue-collar image.
Around 1990, Black Label had probably one of the most successful advertising campaigns ever made in Canada, which used the phrase “The Legend is Black.” The genius of the advertising campaign came from the tendency for people in alternative music bars on Queen Street West in Toronto to drink Black Label because it was cheap and as a way to dissociate themselves from mainstream people drinking mainstream beer.
In the States, Carling Black Label came on the scene during the Depression. Peerless Motor Car Company, looking for a way to diversify in the poor car market of the depression, purchased the American rights to Carling’s formulas, identifying labels, and trademarks. Technicians and brewmasters were sent from Canada to convert a Peerless plant in Cleveland, Ohio into the Brewing Corporation of America. They first tried just brewing Carling’s Red Cap Ale, but sales were too slow to maintain the brewery, and sales didn’t climb until the introduction of Black Label lager. The philosophy behind Black Label was to have a high quality lager that was available nationwide but with a locally brewed budget price. The strategy worked, and the next several decades led to rapid growth and expansion for the brewery and the Carling Black Label brand.
When Carling stopped producing Black Label to focus on a more profitable lager, they found their sales plummeting. Carling re-introduced Black Label with a beautiful blonde named Mabel, portrayed by Jeanne Goodspeed, with the slogan “Hey Mabel, Black Label!”. The twenty-year marketing campaign cemented the name in the popular culture of America.
In 1979, after several years of intense pressure from the larger American Brewers Miller and Anheuser-Busch, Carling-National was bought out by the Heileman Brewing Co. of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Carling and the Black Label brand are currently owned by the Molson Coors Brewing Company. Though no longer widely distributed in the U.S., Black Label remains the official beer of Beer Frisbee.
Summary via Wikipedia