Emptying the beer fridge - Macleans.ca

Emptying the beer fridge

Emptying the beer fridge

Tara Brautigam/CP

It’s last call for drinkers of Canada’s only government-brand beer. The New Brunswick liquor board, which created Selection Lager and Selection Light in March 2009 in response to lagging domestic beer sales and cross-border competition, has stopped production of the private-label beers. Selection Light wasn’t meeting the minimum sales cut-off of 100,000 litres per year, says board spokeswoman Nora Lacey. Selection Lager met the sales cut-off, but because the beers were marketed together, the board decided to stop sales of both brews to make space in its cold rooms for different products. “It’s all peformance based; we have to look at our own brands in the same light and take the appropriate action,” says Lacey.

At $19.99 for 12 cans, Selection was a clear choice for New Brunswick’s wallet-conscious beer drinkers. But reviewers on ratebeer.com seemed to agree that when it came to taste, drinkers got what they paid for: Selection Lager scored an average rating of 1.83/5, with one reviewer likening it to “water from a cheap plastic garden hose that’s been lying in the sun all afternoon.” Selection Light fared similarly, mustering up an average of 1.64/5 and comments that are far from ringing endorsements: “Pours a clear, pale, sickly urine yellow . . . probably the worst looking beer I’ve seen but merely pathetic otherwise.”

Lacey maintains that while Selection’s sales fizzled, both beers’ first year doubled expectations, with each boasting a one per cent market share. She turns to a recent overall decline in domestic beer sales across Canada as an explanation for its demise, rather than the particular taste of Selection’s suds.


Emptying the beer fridge

  1. Sounds like Selection was trying to emulate the swill that is Bud/Molson/Labatt’s and not enough to emulate, say, anything produced by Pumphouse (or most other craft breweries in the country).

  2. Another example of Canadian beer drinkers shooting themselves in the foot.  I’m sure that Selection was no different than anything by Coors or Bud (aka Molson or Labatt), except that it was consistently cheaper to buy (and wholly Canadian.)  However, if they had done something like what Lakeport did in Ontario, and put out a product that seemed somewhat premium initially like “Honey Lager” while pricing it cheaply, and then later followed it up with a more regular pilsener and light, I feel they may have overcome the idea that they were the “cheap” one, and built loyalty to the brand as one with comparable quality but fair pricing.  The NB government wrongly assumed that people would just realize that tasteless lagers like Bud Blue Coors or Canadian are no different taste-wise from their more competitively priced offering.  Alas, seems that people are also buying an image when they buy beer (either that or beer drinkers are just not that bright).  PS, I’m from Ontario and I loved Lakeport initially (why pay more if you just want simple suds?), until it was taken over by Labatts (betraying the workers in Hamilton as a consequence).  I now drink Moosehead, but I would have drunk Selection if it had been available here.