Standard Lager, a beer sold almost exclusively to Manitoban drinkers, has been discontinued this fall.
Beer was first brewed in 1926 by Winnipeg’s Drewry’s Brewery, but has since fallen into the barn of the Molson-Coors conglomerate, confirming the impending beer moving into free press Monday morning.
“Standard Lager beer remains available to consumers for now, until September,” wrote Frederic Bourgeois-Leblanc, a spokesperson for Molson Coors. Asked what would happen after September, he wrote, “STOP.”
Rumors of the Standard’s final casting have been circulating for some time, and came to a head earlier this year when social media posts announced the end of beer’s long reign. Those posts sparked an outcry from beer aficionados, with Molson Coors describing it as “a firm quality beer, a longtime favorite for its subtle, satisfying flavour.”
Local brewers say it’s been known for years that the specialty standard will eventually be left out of Molson’s lineup, with the small number of Manitoba standard drinkers not necessarily making it a priority for the major brand. The pandemic, along with some supply issues, helped seal the deal, and many are skeptical.
Beer has never been a major driver of local shops, but it has become a favorite at local concert venues and veterans’ establishments due to its price, availability and—with decades of relatively unchanged flavor—its consistency.
Karen Litwinock, bar manager at John Osborn Army & Navy #1 on Ellice Avenue, first heard rumors of the end of Standard earlier this year. Then, I called a sales representative from Molson Coors, who confirmed the news, which came as a shock to some old drinkers.
Lytwinuk said one fan of the $4.25, 5 percent alcohol content standard has turned to Alexander Keith, and the last man has become Michelop’s Ultra.
On the wall next to a shelf of old Dutch foil there is a small poster explaining the movement of the dispenser.
The poster reads: “The decision was not taken lightly at all, but to achieve our ambitions we need to continue the path in our long-term plan that prioritizes a more focused strategy with premium as the main objective.” “By reallocating resources toward our brands in our strength, scope, and innovation, we can drive meaningful growth for our company and our customers.”
The poster also said the last shipment date is September 2022, though many won’t believe beer has officially been discontinued until that date has passed, Standard beat the odds before. The beer is currently listed as not available on the Liquor Mart regional website. There is still a healthy supply at some independent stores, including the Quality Inn craft brewery market, whose manager Chris Hiebert encourages Standard slippers to switch their connections to a local brew to preserve the memory of locally produced beer. Hiebert says the stores have had some pretty standard giveaways for the coming months.
At the John Osborn Army & Navy, the Standard has not been available for months and distributor Lytwinuk has told there won’t be more on the way, much to the chagrin of some regulars.
“I have a guy in his 60s who has been drinking Standard since he was 18,” she said Monday, while another man was sipping coffee at the bar while watching an old military movie by Robert Mitchum. “poor man.” He switched to Molson Canadian.