A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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Hans -

I always liked Creemore, actually, but I doubt the Molson acquisition will do much for the quality of the product.

Alan -

I don't know why I have always disliked it but perhaps hainv forefathers who name decendents "Hans" has something to do with it. There is a note in the lager yeasts and in some of the hops that is vomitous to me and Creemore has it in big measure.

Steve -

I'm very bummed out about one of the worst breweries in the world snapping up one of the best. Creemore has long been a big favourite. But there are so many great Ontario brewers making real beer --and struggling with the bully boy tactics of big fat purveyors of adjunct pop -- that I'll be saying goodbye to the Creemore label. Molson doesn't need my money (no matter how much their bean-counters fret about market share. (Why can't they just stick with their strength -- marketing swill?)e

Alan -

Right on! I wasn't my favorite but if it was I sure as hell wouldn't run to Molson along with the sale of the assets.

Clayton Hanmer -

I am very disappointed by this move by Creemore Springs. I personally enjoyed this brew quite a bit, but after 'selling-out' to mega-corp Molson-Coors, I will be boycotting the brand. I fully agree with Steve on this one. Besides the fact that I will not support corporate breweries such as Molsons, I can hardly believe that they will leave the original recipe, taste, and tradition of Creemore Springs Premium Lager alone. Luckily, Ontario still has a few other great micro-breweries to support.

Brian Sheers -

I just came across your site on a search for information on Creemore Springs.

I've worked at Creemore for 15 years and I can tell you, The people I work with are the most dedicated I've ever worked with. I worked at Labatts in Toronto and I can tell you nobody there cared anything about the product.

Creemore Springs has been owned by investors from Toronto for some time now, You would only ever see them about once a year.

From what we were told at the meeting, Molsons is keeping a "Hands Off" policy. In fact only 4 Molsons big shots are allowed in the building.

The Brewery is one of the few good jobs in the area and by boycotting Creemore Springs you are slapping in the face all the men and women who have worked very hard to make what we feel is one of the finest beers around.

Alan -

Hey! Thanks for posting! As I am not a big customer of yours (and other micro lager makers for that matter so it is really nothing personal...that is why I found Paper City's lagers so remarkable). I am certainly not in the lead of any boycott but your point is very important and corrects my off-hand statement about following the assets.<p>So let me think about this out loud before you all. If you are a fan of Creemore, you should not necessarily abandon the product if the product remains true to its legacy. Canada's smallest macro Sleeman's has maintained a fairly hands off relationship with Unibroue so there is definitely a good chance the brewery at Creemore will continue to produce its lagers. If I were a fan, however (and what I really meant and, if I did not, what I really should say is), if the assets (equipment and intellectual property) move on from rural Ontario's oldest remaining expression of real lager making to a Molson's megabrewery, I would not carry my loyal along with a shift of brand. <p>But we also have to be honest. Canada's brewing industry has had a bad habit of consolidation, recipe blandification and macrofication. If you and your co-workers were fired or relocated and Molson asked fans to stick with the label despite what's happened inside the bottle is what I would find unacceptable.

Andy Stimpson -

It is with great regret and sadness that we as small micro's have lost Creemore. It feels like a death in the family. Howard and his staff have worked hard to create and maintain possibly the best microbrewery in Canada. They have been leaders in the Craft Beer Revolution. Which is why Molson has taken them on board. We at Neustadt wish Howard and his team all the best for the future.
Away to go Creemore!!

Brain Sheers -

Thanks Alan.
Everyone has their own opinion of what they prefer in a fine lager and ours has never tried to be all things to all people.

Being a firm believer in " Actions speak louder than words" I think Creemore Springs will remain where it is. Upper Management were given long term contracts,,The same guys that have been running the show for many years..
From what I hear there have been 20 new fermenting tanks an 4 new kettles ordered. We already had site plan approval from Clearview Township to expand. The Hops and Barley orders have been bumped up starting in August.
Based on this I tend to believe they're planning on keeping us where we are. At least I hope so for the sake of the village. About 20% of the population work here.

If you want to see how we do things come on up and take a tour, We're onlt 1 1/2 hours from Toronto. Talk to the people. Maybe then people will see that Creemore Springs is not just a job to us, It's a passion. You'll see the level of commitment and pride that goes into making a truly unique lager. What we feel is among the best in the world. And keep a eye out for a new Ale this summer thats been in the works for quite a while.

I have to agree with you on the fact that moving production to a unionized mega brewery would kill it, Having worked in a large brewery It's just not the same.

And after all,, We still use the big 1/2L bottles,,,,, Honest Honey I've only had 4

Alan -

That is great news, then, Brian. We sure have come a long way from, what was it, Labatt Copper "X" and Copper "Y" as an example of a macro's understanding of real beer in Ontario. Maybe when I need an excuse to slip away from an event at my Huron Co. in-laws I will pop over for a lesson in your yeast strain. I used the word I did above, vomitous, as the only accurate thing I could say but that is meant fully as a statement of the quandry of perception of flavour that I mentioned here this week about Maine's Frye's Leap IPA tasting like cat food. I don't mean it as a slur but as a descriptor and I just can't shake that note I perceive which it shares with a few other German styled, metallic hopped lagers I have had. I sense a more fully researched post on taste and perception coming on.<p>And thanks for joining in Andy - I am quite sad that your 10W30 is not available in the Kingston area. One of the finest dark ales I have ever had.

Nick -

Thanks so much Brian, for getting us some word from the inside. Like many others, I've been drinking each Creemore like it might be the last, as it is very difficult to trust what Molson puts in the press. One of the concerns I have seen on one of the other beer sites regards the future of the bottles now that Creemore is Molson-owned - will they be able to keep the bottles as-is in light of the contracts they have with The Beer Store and Labatts? I would hate to lose the pint bottle.
Is the spring going to be able to support those sorts of volumes, or are there going to be some shenanigans? (I've been to the source for a taste!) Its definitely going to mean a big increase in the trucking!
Here's to you and all your colleagues. I will continue to support you as long you are left to do what you do so well!
Please keep us posted.

Alan -

You know, I am going to retry these beers and if I am wrong retract what I said as I am much happier being a beer booster than a complainer.

Nick -

Alan,
I find the best sources for Creemore in Kingston are the Toucan/Kirkpatricks for draught, and the LCBO on Barrack St. for bottled. It has to be fresh to be at its best. I can understand that somebody who truly prefers real ales would find the character of the lager a little off-putting, as they are night and day.

Alan -

Because I am a schmoe, I need to make sure that what I recall tasting was valid. I bought one 500 ml twsit off bottle at the Bath St. LCBO for $2.65. It sat in the fridge for 24 hours and poured a clear butterscotch colour with a head that resolved quickly to a fine light beige rim. The beer is quite green German hoppy imparting a metallic and a bileous quality. Below this the malt is slightly crystal malt sweet and the yeast has a strong sour tang with a bit of a catch at the back of the throat followed by a dry finish.<p>So, it is much much better made than I recall which is my shame as it deserves all respect - but I do not know with that sour twang whether I can find a place in my heart. Further, I do not know where to place it in the stylistic order. It is nothing like a pilsner, thank God, but not like a marzen either. What is it?

Nick -

Funny, I've asked myself the same question. I spent 2 years in Europe, and thought I should be able to find a similar beer, considering the 'pedigree' that Creemore claims. Couldn't find anything similar (although I certainly didn't mind trying).
I have seen it called a 'lager ale', with one of the primary reasons for this being the extremely hard water that it is brewed with.
I like the sour tang - not as astringent as the real ales I was enjoying in the UK (my local was a brewpub called the Brunswick in Derby), but just enough to balance the sweet malt.
Hopefully somebody else out there will be able comment on the style? I tried on beeradvocate once before for suggestions, but didn't get any that truly bore fruit.
Just goes to show that beer truly is a regional product - take a European lager recipe and brew with Niagara escarpment water, you get something different.
On a related note, I did receive an email from Howard Thompson - he does seem to very sincerely believe that Creemore will be left to do what it does best! Here's hoping he isn't disappointed!

bob -

I happen to love creemore springs and hope that it won't get diluted with the sale to molson . I hope it comes to the states soon !

Bob -

I have heard alot about Creemore Springs lager and would like to try a bottle. I live in the USA around the Chicago, Il area. Is there anywhere to buy it around here or anyway to purchase a bottle on the web?

Robert -

Hello one and all:

As a long time employee with Creemore Springs, I have to admit that I am more disappointed with some of the comments I hear publicly with regards to the Molson/Coors purchase, than I am with working for them. By the way Creemore is being operated as a separate entity. We are as responsible for ourselves now as we ever were.

I think one point that needs clarification, is the sale. Creemore Springs did not sell to Molson/Coors. Creemore was indeed owned by two gentlemen who are of the age [early 80's]where they felt it was time to move towards slowing down.

I do find that there are more people who think they know more about the company and it's dealings than most. As an employee with the company for the past 19 years [yes that means I started before we opened], and have been working as a brewer everyday of those years. Working with the company for this lenght of time means I now every face, and every name, do you know where I am going with this?

Robert

Alan -

No, I really don't know where you are going, especially with the idea that there was somehow not a sale, but thanks for posting. You will see that Brian Sheers, your co-worker, posted above and invited all to tour the brewery with is a great idea.

Robert -

Alan:

Let me clarify that. What I meant to say was "the owner's sold the brewery". I don't have a problem with brewery tours, but unlike my psuedo "co-worker", I would be more than able to give one.

Robert

Alan -

Are you suggesting we have been duped? <p>And I hope my comments above are clear that admonished myself and retried your beer but still found there is something about the yeasty tang that I personally do not like but which is shared by some unfiltered German lagers. I only have two other things that I cannot abide as a matter of personal taste: overly hard water and chili pepper beers.

Robert -

Alan:

Perhaps not duped, more like yanking your chain.

When talking about Creemore, people need to keep in mind the employees who do infact care a great deal about what we do, and what we make. We are still here, and we are still doing what we have done very well for the past 19 years.

Michael Jackson once wrote, that we were one of the two best lagers in North America. The other was a product form Elmhurst, Illinois, which is no longer operating. Jackson without knowing, had picked two separate lagers, produced by two separate breweries, in two separate countries, but with one common denominator,.......the same consulting Brewmaster.

Try comparing us to a Czech pilsner! You may need to come for that tour.

Robert

Jon -

Ive long been a fan of Creemore springs. I picked some up today at the LCBO and decided to search it out on the web. Interesting place I found here. I try to sample as many beers from the area as I can , but I dont consider myself a connoisseur. I enjoy many beers. It is great to hear that the brewary is staying the same as it always has. However the nice bottles are gone. At least in the bunch I have right now. Just a typical bottle now. Ill miss the decorated bottles of the past. I shouldve kept one!
I enjoy the sour tang to the beer, although I must say the brew is a bit different then it was the last time I had it. It could be because of what I ate today or maybe I just completely forgot of what its like. I guess I will have to ask some friends if I am the only one feeling its not the same.

Alan -

That is great Jon. If I don't like something, it does not necessarily bear any reflection on its quality.

Frothquaffer -

Perhaps the acquisition by Molson will somehow improve the quality of the beer. It's a bigger brewery, with better technology and the ability to mass produce fine beers already.

Alan -

You must be talking about Mulson.

Frothquaffer -

No, Molson. Think of how much beer they sell, they must be doing something right.

Alan -

TV ads with ladies?

Frothquaffer -

It has to be more than the advertising. If they had sexy ads but the beer wasn't good people would only buy it once. Clearly this is not the case. I'm no expert, but do enjoy a quality beer, is there anything you could recommend?

Alan -

It depends where you are. If you are a Moslon Canadian drinker in eastern Canada and want a good move up, find McAuslen's St. Ambrose Pale Ale. If is a gateway drug to the world of micros for many around here. Western Canada? Try sometihng from Big Rock like their Traditional Ale.

Alan -

Here is a great article on how the Creemore buy-out has not caused the sorts of problems that were feared:<blockquote class="smalltext">...beer snobs needn't have worried. Since the acquisition, Molson has pretty much ignored Creemore. Not one analyst mentioned Creemore, and nor did Molson Coors execs, during both the 2005 year-end and Q1 2006 financial calls. And why would they? Even if Creemore was running at full capacity, it would only be able to produce 80,000 hectolitres of beer--roughly 23 million bottles--a year, or about 1.2% of the Ontario market. Exact figures aren't available, but Creemore currently produces at least half of that. Compare that to the 48 million hectolitres Molson Coors produces annually, and it's easy to see why Creemore gets lost in the shuffle. Creemore management wouldn't want it any other way.</blockquote>

Daniel -

I'm happy to hear that Molson has not changed the way the beer is made. However there are still a number of problems I have with the recent changes. I was first really disappointed when the 500ml bottles of Urbock were discontinued. It is my favourite beer and perfect by the pint. The regular Creemore was still available in both sizes, and it seems the customer polls showed people were split about 50/50 on bottle size preference.. so why not sell Urbock in both sizes too? The acquisition by Molson troubles me, even though Creemore has not changed, it does change where my money is going, ie if I buy Creemore, I am supporting Molson, which I pretty firmly avoid, so I almost never buy Creemore now. Seeing that the 500ml bottles have been replaced by aluminum cans is kind of the last nail in the coffin. I try to avoid aluminum cans for health reasons. All in all, I am sad to say it, goodbye Creemore.

Robert -

Daniel:

The loss of the 500 ml. was due to ISB agreement. As and independant brewer the option was our's so long as the listing and sorting fees were paid. There is however the fact that a % of sales had to met otherwise the package could be delisted. The 500 ml. had fallen below that % in some stores and it was felt that LCBO in particular was being kind to Creemore. Now being owned by a member of the ISB agreement the 500 ml. as with our own 341 were no longer allowed.
The can was the brain child of the Creemore managemen not Molson/Coors. As a note on the can, the sales of it apparently have surpassed that of the 500 ml. in the LCBO over the same period last year and sales of it are gaining ground slowly in the Beer Store.

Robert

Kevin Prentice -

John Wiggins saved our blessed town from extinction with this beer. Employed me, quenched my thirst, payed for my first 2 cars (one was an IROC-Z!, I was sooo cool then...wow), got me picture in "Report On Business Magazine", 'cause I was brewing that day (hahaha Bob, Vic, and Gord), should have seen my long jet black mullet too! Hey, it was in the late 80's... I was a movie star in a show that never aired, produced by Patrick Watson, about micro-breweries across Canada...man, the fame, the glory, the great employees, and "most" of the management. Oh ya, the beer, great beer!

Cheers to Johnny

Scott Kuli -

I was lucky to run across this blog in my search for information on craft beers. I'm particularly interested, Mr. Sheers (if you happen to be reading this) on which beers Creemore considers it's main competition.
I'm currently a marketing and advertising student at St. Clair College in Windsor Ontario, and we're doing what we call a "competitive set" for the Creemore brand. We're also looking at it's source of business.
There is a huge variety of craft beers now being produced in Ontario, and I just checked out the Craft Brewers of Ontario web page. I was very surprised to not see Creemore listed there, but I suspect that a decision was made at Creemore that doing so might have Creemore seen by it's customers as mainstreaming the brand, rather than keeping it a kind of luxury brand, like something you might reward yourself with rather than just enjoy somewhat.
Any information anyone can supply would be much appreciated, and needless to say if anyone wants a 3rd year college student to consult (on the cheap) should they decide to market their own, you've got my e-mail...Heh heh.

Scott Kuli -

Oh, and take the "NOSPAM" out of the address before replying.

Robert -

Scott: With regards to Creemore no longer being listed amongst the membership of the Ontairo Craft Brewer's Assc., once the word got out that Creemore had been purchased by Molson/Coors, the Assc. abruptly ended Creemore's membership.

Robert

Kevin Prentice -

Hey Bob, do you have any photo's of the train that used to go through Creemore? If so, send 'em my way, also, are you a brew "master" now? Is Vic? Kick Don in square in the balls for me.

Nersi -

I have been a long-time fan of Creemore I am happy to observe that the quality of the beer is unchanged. I too miss the 500-mL bottles but I can live with the new packaging. However, a far more serious concern is freshness and I am sorry to say that I cannot buy fresh Freemore any longer, not even at the Brewery!

I live in the Toronto area and I am hard-pressed to find a case in any Beer Store that is not older than 3 weeks. The staff at the Brewery advise that their product should be consumed within 3 weeks of bottling and this is borne out by my own experience: when its older than that, the beer loses its excellent golden colour and becomes murky, the carbonation dies down, the foam collapses after a few seconds in the glass, a sediment might form and the taste develops a yeasty sourness.

In the article refered to above by Alan (Canadian Business Online), I read what I think what might be part of the reason for this problem: "Creemore now uses Molson Coors' distribution system to deliver beer to the Beer Store." Perhaps management has ignored that fact Creemore's self stability is not nearly the same as that of Coors Light and that the same approach to distribution may not be appropriate.

On a visit to the Brewery this weekend, I found their fridges were stocked with beer bottled more than a month ago. I was told this is because sales are slow at this season, an explanation which I found less than satisying.

I have also seen the Beer Store stack cases of Creemore on the shop floor (instead of the refrigerated portion of the shops), together with the Corona's etc, no doubt for the convenience of shoppers. Now that the proprietors of the Beer Store own Creemore, it makes snese that they would make it a more prominent feature in their shops. However, they are clearly oblivious to the fact that Creemore is not as tolerant to heat as some other beers and that it will spoil if left at room temperature.

In short, my point is that product freshness is being sacrificed. All friends of Creemore know that freshness is essential and I sorry to say that for my part, I am already scouring the other Ontario micro-brews in the search of my next staple.

Xcreemore -

Everyone who posted here are right about Creemore Beer…gone to swill. When I visited the brewery for the last time ,they said “ NO… nothing will change…it be the same great lager!!” Yea right; I got $50.00 that says it will, and it did.
Thanks Molson and Coors you did a great job on it.
Too bad some other Micro Brewery did not pickup the strain of Beer and start making.

Harlie Johnston -

I am posting here assuming that someone at Creemore is paying some attention to such postings.

I live near a seasonal resort area. I was pleased when we could get bottled Creemore here. I bought occasionally through the summer and recall that the beer was as remembered. Today I returned the case I bought Tuesday with a stale date next week - the beer collapsed within minutes after I poured - much as Kevin describes. Today's replacement case has an expired stale date. It poured better and tastes better but it goes back tomorrow.

Not sure what I should be looking for in dating but they sure don't deliver weekly as the package states.

James Bambino -

can someone please let us know if there's a way to get ahold of this beer in the states - via the web or mail order, or in a store even?

I've heard great things about Creemore and it's Saturday, i'm thirsty, and I need to know!

Paul -

Creemore Springs has applied for planning permission to increase the size of their plant by 60% to 36,000 sq. ft. so that they can triple their brewing capacity to 150,000 hl per year. The proposal has run into opposition because it would mean the location of a large industrial plant in a commercial/residential neighbourhood, on a lot that is too small to contain it. The zoning needs to be significantly changed in order for this expansion to go forward and a successful outcome is not a certainty. If you want to wade thought the planning issues watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKHiD1sVXvE
Of more interest to beer drinkers is the business model being pursued by MolsonCoors with Creemore. Sales growth in Ontario is limited, so the intent is to make Creemore available in other parts of Canada. It has also been suggested that some of this large new capacity could be used to brew Granville Island beer which they bought last year. So is it a contradiction in terms to have a large craft brewery, or does it not matter as long as quality control and taste is maintained.
The proponents of the expansion say that the special permission to alter the zoning is required because without the expansion in Creemore Molsons will be forced to go somewhere else (the Toronto plant?!) and could very likely close the Creemore location. There is much debate about whether most buyers of Creemore beer would know or care where the beer was made as long as it tasted the same. Could Creemore Springs beer become another Rickards where people don't know/care where it is brewed but buy it because of the taste or the brand image they have been sold. Can the Creemore brand survive without Creemore? And even if they get permission to expand in Creemore will the brand loose its specialness by becoming too big?

Letter to the Creemore Echo newspaper:
Creemore Springs founder weighs in on expansion issue
Dear Editor:
In my opinion, Creemore Springs Brewery is presently at its most viable size, for balance of operations, for maximizing profit, for penetration and retention of market share, and for credibility of branding.
With Creemore Springs, Molson has a great thing going. I suggest they capitalize on Creemore’s long-term strengths, rather than plunder its short-term opportunity. The brewery’s future success will be gained by a long-term strategy that strengthens its marketability.
The thinking of a large national brewer is subject to shareholders only interested in an uptick in returns. Creemore Springs, with its well respected branding and good profit margins, seems like an ideal prospect to “take to the moon,” without realizing that, in doing so, they will more likely “blow it out of the water.” The resultant dynamics created by exponential growth will distort the very things that have made it a success, and will actually diminish it. By pushing growth, Molson will shoot itself in the foot.
Large breweries are very good at what they do. They make great average beers for the great average consumer in huge quantities. Creemore Springs’ focus is on brewing beer for a more particular taste, in small quantities. They are very good at what they do. As much as a large brewer’s consumer identifies with a label supported by lifestyle TV commercials, a Creemore Springs consumer identifies with a definitive beer he or she finds an affinity with.
I hate to tell Molson that there’s a growing segment of the market that will go out of its way not to drink a big brewer’s beer. To whom a beer made by elves, lost in some little village, has more appeal.
As much as Creemore Springs has been good for the village, the village has been good for Creemore Springs. Disproportionate size of the brewery could threaten that synergetic relationship and turn a wonderful asset into a liability for both.
For the record, I sold my shares to my partners with an agreement they would 1) never take the brewery public, and 2) never sell it to a large brewer, because either would have a negative effect. But money erased their memory and they did both. Notwithstanding, I was duly impressed that Molson maintained the character and philosophy of Creemore Springs for several years. Now, I’m depressed to find they are about to not. I find Molson’s lack of comprehension for what will ensure Creemore Spring’s future sad.
John Wiggins, Clearview Township