St. Urbain Beer (A short, bitter finish)

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new beer in town. It’s called “St. Urbain,” available in several varieties, and its merchandising is highly evocative of that storied street right in the heart of our fair burgh. Unfortunately, it’s just another Labatt product.

That’s right. You won’t find “Labatt” anywhere on the box or label, but if you look closely it says it’s from “Oland Specialty Beers.” Oland is the Nova Scotia brewery that was bought by Labatt some 20 or so years ago. Before then, Oland was a regional brewery. Now the name persists only for marketing purposes, and as a subsidiary company that distributes so-called “specialty beers” like Keith’s and St. Urbain.

I don’t hate the big domestics (Labatt and Molson), but I don’t like them either. Despite the proliferation of craft and micro brews that have come on the market in the past 20 years, the big domestics are still the market leaders by a long shot. So why do they have to fake it by coming up with fake microbrews like St. Urbain (and, incidentally, the Rickards line, which is made by Molson)? Shut up and let the little guys have some success in the small but competitive market of craft beers.

By the way, there’s already a review of St. Urbain Blonde up on Ratebeer.com. It says:

(2.2) Boring blond body with heavy carbonation and a fading white frothy head. Fair malty/hoppy aroma that carries grassy and bready notes. I cannot say that the taste is particularly bad. However, it definitely lacks complexity. Ends with a short bitter finish. Boring.

18 thoughts on “St. Urbain Beer (A short, bitter finish)

  1. Ugh. Ick. Yuck.

    Sadly, the only Canadian beer sold/known in this country is Labatt Ice or Moosehead. I managed to find an online shop for international beer, so I’ve been able to get Sleemans and Maudite for our Canada Day BBQs. Not quite ideal, but at least some of the British public are now aware of other Canadian beer!

  2. Other “Canadian” beer sez Lisa…………… Sorry to advise that a few months ago, Sleemans was swallowed up by Sapporo…….. :>{{{{{

  3. I’ve seen that beer at the grocery the other day and I quicly look for an indication of a major brewerie. The display was just too much for a micro. Oland rang a bell, but I was not too sure if it was a major or not, so I let the 6-pack on the shelves… Feew. Thanks for the head-up Ed.

  4. It’s sort of the way things are going. Actually, the microbrewers have rekindled interest in beer (supposedly a 12 per cent jump in (world? NA?) beer consumption in 2005, and the big guys are following suit. Micros are doing not too badly, I think.

    I’ve been writing a show on beer, so have been immersed (in a matter of speaking) in the subject. Haven’t checked out that story about how wine is superceding beer. Maybe the real post 911 hangover involves people drinking – a lot!

  5. The annoying thing about this sort of behaviour comes in the selection at a local popular watering hole. It used to be the norm to have all the major brands, a few imports and even a couple of local and/or microbrews. Now the microbrews are replaced by the big brand versions of them, which taste better by a small degree but are still pretty boring. The absorption of popular small microbrews by bigger microbrews in turn absorbed macrobreweries just eliminates any chance of getting a decent beer in any place other than a shop that caters to micros. i can remember enjoying Upper Canada in the days it was independant and can remember how the taste changed upon being bought by sleemans.

    i am just happy my favourite craft beer is around the corner from my apt and they still brew it on location — Granite Brewery, in case you are wondering.

  6. Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? Phony micros like Rickard’s Red are at least slightly more interesting than the big monsters like Molson X or Labatt Blue. But they’re still far less interesting than most microbrews. But an awful lot of restaurants (and even bars) figure they’ve got the “alternative” crowd covered by putting Rickards Red on tap along with the usual Molsons crap (and goddam Coors Lite).

  7. Thanks for pointing this out. I hardlky ever drink beer, but when I do, I like the microbrews better. Won’t be fooled next time!

  8. Who the what now? Sapporo bought Sleemans?! I really must go home more often. Sheeeeesh.

  9. McAuslanis my favorite local Montreal brewery. A pint of Griffon Blonde in an icy, from-the-freezer glass on a hot day is where it’s at. Had a brief love afair with Frontenac when I was younger.

    Never was a fan of the Cheval Blanc beers (although I love the place) and Reservoir on Duluth brews up some great beers if you haven’t had the chance to try ’em.

  10. I would like to take a moment to thank the people who have started this thread and who have continued it. I am a territory sales manager for McAuslan Breweies in the Toronto area. Having worked for what is now INBEV and now McAuslan, I can see it from both sides of the fence – I am glad I am on the side of a wholly Canadian owned brewery that doesn’t try to confuse the consumer with made-up breweries and middle of the road liquids. Please continue to support the local beers that offer you choice and quality! Please feel free to contact me through the McAuslan website or directly at kleaper@mcauslan.com if I can help point you in the direction of some local establishments in your area that serve ours and other fine craft beers.

    Cheers!

  11. Mmmm St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout. While I cannot get it on tap anywhere i know, I do like that it’s easily found in the LCBO.

  12. tbit – feel free to send me an email and I will provide you a list of accounts pouring McAuslan products including Oatmeal Stout.

    Kirk Leaper
    McAuslan Brewing

  13. Thanks for the offer Kirk, but I already have pretty good idea of where the good pours are. As you know, St. A is not hard to find around here, which is something I’m pretty happy about. But maybe you can tell me how to get one of those “false saints” shirts that Peter McA was talking about!

    TBIT, seek it out. Oatmeal stout is nice from the bottle, but divine from the tap.

  14. I came back from 3.5 weeks vacation and this appeared on my dep’s shelves…thanks for saving me the $. And I can second/third/whatever the praise of the McA oatmeal stout…such a great beer. Try Charles Bierbrier’s stuff sometime, it’s a great beer too.

    One thing great about Montreal is the incredible craft beers on tap at local brewpubs…given that they can’t distribute you can only get it in person. Anyway, it’s great to be back in a place with such great beer!

  15. RS, I’m a big fan of Bierbrier. In fact, my two “house beers” are Griffon Rouse from McA and Bierbrier.

  16. Late to the thread but…i picked up a 6-pack of st-urbain blonde at the dep downstairs and am sipping it now…the review is accurate in the notes but I don’t find it a bad lager at all. They carry Bierbrier as well so I’ll give that a spin next.

    As to the whole “authenticity” debate — which is a running thread of almost every Blork-rant I’ve read about _anything_, really — ultimately whether it’s a small company or a large one, it’s still someone else making money from your thirst.

    Now a truly authentic “Montreal beer” would have to be not just craft-brewed but locally owned, independent, organic, and all the ingredients, ideally, would be grown in a 100 mile radius — barley, hops, wheat, yeast, everything — brewing operations would be powered sustainably and re-use their own wastes for energy or feedstock — and the whole shebang would have to be owned by the City, or some sort of co-op invested in by the CDP and about a dozen unions. right? right? ;)

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