Brewing Corporation

St Louis, Omaha, New Orleans, Galveston, El Paso, Ft Wayne, San Jose, San Francisco, Cranston, RI


History of Falstaff Beer

Plant Photos

Ft Wayne Brewery Tour

Galveston Brewery Tour

More Photos

Working for Falstaff

Ballantine Ale

Haffenreffer Private Stock Malt Liquor

The Friends of Falstaff

The Gabe and Walker Story

Where Can I Buy  Ballantine Ale & Other Brews?

Carling-National Brewing Corporation

Falls City Beer

Theodore Mack and the Peoples' Brewing Corp.

Joseph Picketts & Sons of Dubuque

Walter Brewing of Eau Claire

Horlacher Brewing Co.

Web Guy Ego Trip Page J

T Shirt Shop


Carling - National Brewing Company

carling_front.jpg (38384 bytes)

    "Mabel, Black Label!" - "America's Lusty, Lively Beer!" The History of Carling Black Label Beer 

Updated 2/14/09 - New photos thanks to Jeffrey Bednar

While at college I was asked to do a term paper on marketing a niche product, I chose malt liquor (you can tell where my head was at!). I called Carling-National in Baltimore, and the brand manager for Colt 45 was very helpful. Because of all the information he had sent me, I got high marks on my paper (Schlitz was "too busy" to help me). After that I always had a soft spot for them & tried to drink their beers whenever I couldn't find Falstaff. 

Carling's story is not unlike Falstaff's, a muti-site brewery that collapsed alongblracing2.jpg (76166 bytes) with Schlitz, Heileman, Pabst, & Stroh's. I always liked Black Label and A-1 from Arizona, the Carling National beers were more highly hopped than most American brands. Since the story is quite long, I will do it in time line fashion with side comments on the Carling Canadian & National Brewing stories. Carling Canada is in red and National Brewing of Baltimore is in blue. The activities of former Australian brewing magnate Alan Bond are in green. I got a biography of him on a recent visit to Australia, and it is an interested read - "How to get rich borrowing other people's money..." The funniest thing he said was "When you owe the bank $10,000, you've got a problem, but when you owe $10 million, the bank has a problem..."

The story is a bit complicated, so I hope you don't get lost! I have also added information on G Heileman and Stroh Brewing after they acquired the Carling brands. My sincere thanks to Mike Guye, Wes Weaver, Mr. Richard Wright-former VP of advertising for Carling, Frank Guistino, Seth Chazanoff, Donald Roussin Jr., Greg Cashen, and to the excellent book "Breweries of Cleveland" by Carl H. Miller available from the Beer History Store.

Charlie Smigo is a dedicated CBL fan and has his own history site, which has recently been updated. To check it out go here. He has also started a discussion group on this great beer. To join in go here.  I've put a couple of photos of Charlie's massive collection of CBL breweriana at the bottom.

If you'd like to learn more about Carling in Canada, you can order "On Tap: The Odyssey  of  Beer and Brewing in Victorian London-Middlesex," by historian Glen C. Phillips,  for $18 US funds to: Cheshire Cat Press  P.O. Box 373 Thessalon, Ontario, Canada  P0R 1L0  Please make the cheque payable to "Cheshire Cat Press".  If you see anything that's incorrect or want to add something just email me.


 John Carling & Eugene O' Keefe - from "Beers of North America" by Bill Yenne 1990

1818 - Tom Carling, a farmer from Yorkshire, England, arrives in Ontario. While clearing his land, Carling brewed ale for "stumping bees" and gained quite a reputation as a home brewer.

1840 - Carling gives up life as a farmer and opens a brewery in London, Ontario Canada called W&J Carling Company on Waterloo Street. Carling himself handles the sales of his products through the streets of London.

1862 Eugene O'Keefe arrives from Cork Country, Ireland and begins to brew ales and porters in Canada. The O'Keefe brewery was merged into the group in the 19th century.

Mvc-104f_l.jpg (38666 bytes)

1872 - The National Brewery is built in Baltimore, MD and changed its name to National Brewing in 1885 when it became became part of the firm of Joseph L. Straus & Brother

1878 - John and William Carling build a new brewery, six stories high but it was not to last long

1879- A fire consumes the new brewery and costs William Carling his life. In attempt to fight the fire himself he becomes very wet and overtired. Crushed by the loss of his brewery, he becomes ill and dies of pneumonia

1880- Carling makes its first entry into the American market by purchasing the Rogers & Hughes Forest Brewery in Cleveland. Calling it the London Brewery (after London, ON), they brew Carling's line of ale, porter, and brown stout

1884 - Local manager John Macbeth buys the brewery from the Carling family, and continues production of Carling products under license, this was sold a year later to Barrett Brewing Company

1885 - The President of Carling Brewing, John Carling, leaves the company to serve as Canada's Minister for Agriculture. National has a major expansion of their brewery, many buildings which still survive today.

john_carling.jpg (8822 bytes)

1898- The American rights for Carling are sold to the Cleveland and Sandusky Brewing Company, which continue to sell and brew Carling products until 1911. Carling does not re-appear in the USA until after Prohibition...

1889 - National Brewing becomes part of Maryland Brewing, a syndicate of 16 breweries with a massive capacity of 1.5 million barrels

   cbrew1.jpg (30111 bytes)

   Carling Brewing in London, Ontario around 1890

1901 -Eight of the breweries in the Maryland syndicate close, and the company is renamed as the Gottleib-Bauernschmidt-Straus Brewing Company  

1918 - Canada also experiments with Prohibition, which lasts two years

1930 - The Carling Breweries are purchased by a group headed by E.P. Taylor, who would guide the company for many years. Family member J. Innes Carling, sits on the board

1930s - Back in business, National Brewing introduce their mascot, the one eyed Mr. Boh, who will remain with them for the life of the company

1934 - With Prohibition ending in the USA, former car manufacturer James A Bohannon opens the Brewing Corporation of America in Cleveland on Quincy Avenue. Bohannon had  headed up the Peerless Automotive Co. which built luxury cars but the company did not survive the Depression. Peerless executives see a chance to cash in on the repeal of Prohibition. Bohannon licenses the technology to brew beer from Carling in Canada. The initial strategy was just to brew Red Cap Ale, but this proved almost to be the undoing of the young company. It was not until they released the budget price "Black Label" beer, that sales and profits began to grow. The brewery was located in the former Peerless Automobile factory .Initially sales were only in Cleveland, OH, but grew to other areas.

  bohannon.jpg (12703 bytes)

picture from "Breweries of Cleveland" by Carl Miller

1944 - Brewing Corporation of America purchase the Forest City Brewing Co. plant on Davenport Ave. in Cleveland from "Big Al" Polizzi, a well known local mobster as well as the Tip Top Brewing Co. The interest for buying this was more for the war rationed stock of grains rather than the facility itself. "Big Al" retires to Florida. In Canada, Canadian Breweries Ltd. (CBL) take control of Walkerville Breweries, founded by Hiram Walker of Canadian whiskey fame. This brewery was closed in 1956,  and buildings demolished in 1962. 

1945- Bohannon begins buying shares in the Harvard Brewing Company of Lowell, Mass with an eye for expansion into New England. 


 the Science Center at John Carrol University is named for James Bohannon

1946 - The second plant is closed is closed due to shortage of grains for brewing, and the Black Label brand is eliminated to focus on Red Cap. Sales drop 40% in the next two years and cash reserves are depleted.

 conerc.jpg (33637 bytes)

   1947- Executives from Canadian Brewing come to Cleveland and find the company in terrible financial shape. Bohannon is stripped of his authority and set aside. Canadian George Black is appointed as CEO.  Truly ahead of their time, Carling has recently changed to all non-returnable bottles, but both the bottles and packaging are defective. "God there was beer and blood and broken glass all over thousands of stores" said Black "So naturally it was a first rate disaster. It was an imperial military **** up, like the charge of the Light Brigade". The company is losing $300,000 / month (serious money in those days) and Black fires staff to get costs back in line and started building the business again. "I've fired so many people in my life that it's sort of an art" recalled Black. Ian R. Dowie a Vice President of Carling Canada is appointed Vice President of Sales and starts to rebuild the organization (scan thanks to www.conetop.com)

1949 -  Falstaff Brewing approaches Canadian Brewing to purchase Carling, but no agreement is signed...Carling sales reach 300,000 bbl per year, which puts them in 62nd place. A major expansion of the Cleveland brewery takes place to produce 1.2 million bbl.

1950- Under new management, Black Label is reintroduced and sales begin to climb again, rising 28% in one year and 25% the next. The "Mabel, Black Label" slogan is coined . George Black's turnaround has been so successful that he returns to Canada as the president of Canadian Breweries Limited, just short of his 39th birthday. Meanwhile in Canada Labatt's tries to foment a boycott of Carling products by hotel keepers in Canada. Hearing through their networks that Labatt's will lower their price 25 cents per keg, CBL lowers the price 50 % decrease on its keg prices. The hotel owners go back to purchasing Carling products. That same year, Western Breweries of Canada is absorbed into the Carling family.  National Brewing continues to grow at a rapid pace, there are now more than 900 employees... conebl.jpg (32984 bytes)(National Bohemian ad thanks to Paul Abrams)

1951-Carling continues its amazing growth and picks up 15 places rising to 34th position in the industry with sales of 670,000 bbl. Ian Dowie is named as President upon Black's return to Canada. Carling begins Television advertising with NY model and actress Jeanne Goodspeed as Mabel, she will keep the role until 1970 (!). For more click here


1953 - The board of directors votes to rename the US company The Carling Brewing Company, & sales reach the 1 million barrel mark.They are now in 19th place. Carling is proclaimed "America's Fastest Growing Beer". Carling begin to sponsor the "Carling Open Golf Tournament" which lasts well into the 1960s


mabel.jpg (20289 bytes)

1954 -  Carling sales increase a whopping 40% over the previous year. In a major move, they purchase the Griesedieck-Western Brewing in Belleville, IL, which also includes the former Hyde Park Brewery in St. Louis for $10 million. Griesedieck -Western is the #11 brewer in the US and is actually larger than #18 Carling, Their most popular brand is Stag Beer, introduced in 1907 and is still widely sold in Missouri and Illinois. Griesedieck-Western had been owned by cousins of the Griesediecks of Falstaff Brewing (while another branch Griesedieck Brothers Brewing) and was one of the oldest breweries in the mid-west, having been established in 1851. Black Label is imported and later brewed by the Hope and Anchor Brewery in Britain and will later become the UK's best selling beer

hyde_park!.jpg (11215 bytes)  hude_park2.jpg (15412 bytes)

  Two shots of the Carling (Hyde Park) plant in St Louis, from the ABA Journal 

Side note: Their slogan in the 1940s was "Pass Up "Ladies' Beer"....Be A Man About It, Drink Stag!" Don't think it would be very PC to use this slogan today <grin>...Comic character Mr. Magoo is also featured in Stag Ads "Join Mr. Magoo in a Stag Brew!" -- Carling in Canada continue their expansion by purchasing Brading Breweries in Ontario  National Brewing purchase the former Altes Brewing Co. in Detroit and add Altes Beer to their range.                                               

stag1.jpg (112184 bytes)

1956 - Carling continues to expand at a rapid pace, building a state-of- the- art new brewery in Natick, MA as well as purchasing the Frankenmuth Brewing Co. plant in Frankenmuth, MI. The Natick plant is named "The most modern brewery in America". Carling's sales increase another 13% in a depressed market and top the 2 million bbl mark. Thumbnail of Stag in the 1950s thanks to Bryan Monaco.

 belvil.gif (145099 bytes)

 .Stag Brewery from the American Breweriana Site / Natick plant around 1960 from "Brewed in America" by Stanley Baron /  Frankenmuth plant thanks to Charlie Smigo

1957 -Carling sales hit 3,000,000 bbl, the first time production has hit that level in the history of the company. Carling plants in Belleville, Cleveland, Natick, and Frankenmuth celebrate by tapping a 1/4 barrel of beer. (Just to compare: remember that A-B sales last year were around the 100,000,000 mark). Of the 200 breweries in the USA that year, only seven can claim this achievement. Carling has grown from 62nd position to 8th in only 8 years. The Cleveland plant is expanded again to a 2 million bbl capacity but the Hyde Park brewery in St. Louis is closed - 350 brewery workers lose their jobs

nat_boh_57.jpg (84890 bytes)

1958 - Carling builds another multi-million dollar facility on the South Expressway in Atlanta, GA, & purchases the Colombia Brewery in Tacoma, WA adding its brands which include Heidelberg and Colombia. Carling's sales have increased 877% in the last ten years, and was selling 6.5 bottles of Black Label, Red Cap, and Stag for every person in the U.S. 

forgood.jpg (56250 bytes)

1959 - Fortune Magazine declares: "the 200 or so breweries in the USA be winnowed down to 10 or 12, with Carling's as top dog" - well they were half right... Carling becomes the largest and most profitable brewer in the world, dwarfing A-B and Schlitz. CBL's sales grow from U.S. $100.4 million to $333.8 million in 10 years and profits grow from $4.9 million to $12.4 Million. A strike in the Canadian brewery industry lasting seven weeks costs CBL $100,000 per day.  George Black disagrees with CEO E.P. Taylor's handling of the strike and the general direction of CBL and resigns. Under his direction CBL had phenomenal growth. 

1960 - Carling becomes the fourth largest brewery in America, with sales of 4,822,075 barrels nipping at the heels of Falstaff. But Anheuser-Busch embarks on an aggressive pricing strategy, which starts to squeeze margins of brewers of "popular-priced" brands such as Black Label. Without a premium priced brand like Bud or High Life, Carling's margins on each barrel sold are lower than other big national brewers (which was also a problem faced by Falstaff) and creates profitability problems

1961 -  Carling builds new brewery in Baltimore, MD on the beltway  -National Brewing  purchases the former American Brewing Co. facility in Miami from Anheuser - Busch

range2a.jpg (18156 bytes)


1962- Carling announces a new "continuous brewing process" and builds a new plant in Ft. Worth, TX to feature this system. The process does not work due to a single faulty piece of stainless pipe and the plant is closed after just a few months of operation. This special process was supposed to be more cost effective than brewing beer in batches. (A similar attempt by Schlitz to speed up the brewing process also ruined the company by changing the taste of the beer)  The plant is later sold to Miller in 1967, who remove the continuous brewing process equipment

1963 - In an effort to create a national brand, National Brewing introduce Colt 45 Malt Liquor. It is a huge success. Contrary to its image as a "ghetto beer" now, it was originally pitched as a super-premium beer with a "kick". The official story is that the beer was not named after the firearm, but after #45, a running back for the Baltimore Colts. Thumbnail of Miller Brewing in Ft Worth, formerly the Carling plant.Carling Collection 1.jpg (29155 bytes)

1964 - Carling purchases Arizona Brewing Co. in Phoenix and adds A-1 Beer to its brand portfolio: to get the complete A-1 story just click here. (webguy note: A-1 was a great beer)... Carling hits its sales peak with 5,775,000 barrels sold and is sold in all 50 states as well as more than 50 countries....


1965 - Sales start to decline for the first time as Carling operates 9 breweries in the USA. Carling Cans thanks to Chuck Starrett: to see the rest of Chuck's collection click here National Brewing purchases the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.


A_1 brewery.jpg (17995 bytes)  

1966 - Carling licenses SAB in South Africa (who will later buy Miller Brewing) to begin brewing Black Label - the Carling Phoenix Brewery is sold to National Brewing (and will return to Carling in the 1970s when the two breweries merge) In addition to the NFL Colts, National Brewing also purchase the Baltimore Orioles baseball team

1967- Rothman's, the Canadian cigarette company, purchase 10% of Canadian Brewery (of which Carling was a subsidiary)

1968- Carling introduces the keg bottle, but sales falls vs.1967

In a historic move, cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris made a tender offer for 51% of Canadian Brewery's stock. Close to the date of the tender offer, arch-rival Rothman's quietly purchase 41% of the CBC stock. Philip Morris then decides to purchase the Miller Brewing Company of Milwaukee instead.......Many people believe the Rothman's buy-out was the beginning of the end for CBL, Rothman's did not know anything about the brewing industry nor the American market

1968 - Sales increase 8.1% thanks to the good market acceptance of the keg bottle

roomy2.jpg (5368 bytes)

As did Falstaff, CBL served our troops proudly in the Viet Nam War - scans from www.rivervet.com,www.ec47.com,and www.usmcpress.com

1970 - Growth stagnates, Carling falls to #8 with sales of 4,819,000. The 1970s mark an era of very rapid decline and collapse of the company.

Carling Collection 2.jpg (30595 bytes)

 More Carling Cans thanks to Chuck

1971 - The original Cleveland plant is sold to C. Schmidt & Sons of Philadelphia. Carling headquarters is moved to Waltham, MA. Schmidt will declare bankruptcy in 1986 and the beautiful Peerless / Carling plant was finally torn down in the late 1990s....

quincyave.jpg (44127 bytes)

Quincy Avenue Plant - former Peerless Automobile factory - from " Breweries of Cleveland"

1973 -  The Atlanta Brewery is closed and sold to Coca-Cola. It is later used by a food brokerage firm. In order to move into the super-premium market, and generate higher profits per barrel, Carling acquires rights to brew Danish beer Tuborg in the USA accompanied with a massive marketing program. The spokesman for Tuborg is actor Robert Loggia of TV's "T.H.E.Cat" fame  - CBL renames the Canadian operations Carling O'Keefe-  Struggling financially, National Brewing close their Detroit (formerly Altes) brewing operations.  

atlanta.jpg (31159 bytes)

1973 - Black Label is still the #10 selling beer brand in the USA

1974 -More bad news as National Brewing close their brewery in Miami and further consolidate operations - the great American brewery shake out is in full swing....Scan of the very modern Atlanta plant from "Breweries of Cleveland"

1975 - Sales declines continue and Carling falls out of the top 10 American breweries. They lose $10 million in a single year.  The Natick, Mass plant is closed, sales staff cut in half, and money put into more advertising & marketing expenses.

stag2.jpg (17409 bytes)

    1976 - Carling decides to spin off the American operations, which merge with National Brewing of Baltimore after being purchased for $19 million. National is the 16th largest brewer in America and both companies need sales volume to survive. National's most famous brand is Colt 45 Malt Liquor, and its National Bohemium and National Premium brands win many awards, including " one of  the best beers in America" by Oui Magazine. With this move, the A-1 Arizona plant also comes back to Carling.

james-gang.jpg (12825 bytes)

Carling in Canada is now also in serious trouble, once the largest brewer in the Great North, market share in Canada slides from 40% in 1969 to 25% in '76. Likewise m/s in the USA drops from 6% to 3%. Blame is put on the Rothman's management and a big shake up takes place. Carling sponsors the Montreal Expos in an effort to boost sales in Quebec. ( Tom Criss - bass player for the rock group James Gang - enjoys a Carling 16 oz - the James Gang hailed from Cleveland and featured guitar great Joe Walsh...) 

1977- Despite a promising start, sales decline 20% the first year for Carling- National in the U.S. 

1978- A proposed merger of Carling-National with Pabst Brewing is blocked by the U.S. Justice Department for anti-trust (comment: but no one says anything about A-B's 51% share of the US beer market...) Miller Brewing tries to sue Carling O'Keefe in Canada over copyright and trademark infringement on a series of ads Carling has run for its low calorie beer "Highlite". Miller alleges that the ads are too similar to its Lite Beer ads, but the court rules in Carling's favor. 

stag3.jpg (49831 bytes)

 1979 - Carling- National ceases to exist, and is sold to G Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse, WI for $35 million. The big concern of the Carling-National management is parent Rothman's tie up to South Africa, which is under economic boycott.  Heileman continues to operate the Carling breweries in Belleville, IL , Frankenmuth, MI, Baltimore, MD and Phoenix, AZ  for a time. The Tacoma plant is, however, closed. Heileman has tremendous growth in this period under the guidance of brewing hero Russell Cleary. ( I always liked Cleary because he, like Falstaff, purchased existing breweries, maintaining both the jobs and brands.....) Heileman sales are $557 million up from $17 million in 1950. Stag Brewery thumbnail thanks again to Byran Monaco

200010-abm3.jpg (24953 bytes)

1980 - The former National Brewing facility ( Conkling & O'Donnell Streets in Highlandtown) in Baltimore is closed, but the newer Carling plant out on the beltway there is left open

1981 Enter Alan Bond, an Australian who, like Paul Kalmanovitz, made his fortune in the real estate market.  A former sign painter turned entrepreneur,  Bond purchases the Swan Brewery in Western Australia for Aus $164 million. 

1983 - Heileman acquires the Lone Star Brewery in San Antonio, TX, the Blitz Weinhard Brewery in Portland, and the plant in Perry (Pabst), GA from Pabst in an asset swap (for details see the Falstaff page)  Bond becomes a global celebrity by winning the America's Cup Yacht Race with the Australia II. 

cbmat2.jpg (19763 bytes)

1985 -  Heileman sales hit their peak at $1.1 billion Bond expands his brewery holdings in Australia by purchasing Castlemaine - Toohey's. This acquisition is not without problems.

1986 - Heileman open the Val Blatz microbrewery in Milwaukee within walking distance of Pabst, it is closed in 1989, later sold to Miller and now functions as a second Leinenkugel plant. Heileman also purchase the Champale brand and brewery from Iroquois Brands  Bond purchases his first brewery in the USA, Pittsburgh Brewing (Iron City Beer). They are the 10th largest brewer in the USA. 

1987- Bond expands his brewing empire into the USA with the purchase of Heileman's for an astronomical sum, $1.7 Billion US. This makes Bond Brewing the 6th largest in the world but turns out to be a colossal mistake. Heileman begins to decline soon after the purchase by Bond, losing $150 million US the first year under his leadership. It turns out the company was seriously overvalued by Bond's financial team. Not even on the map in 1970, by 1980 Heileman was the nation's 6th largest brewer under Cleary's direction.

Rothman's, the cigarette giant who own Carling O'Keefe in Canada, sell the company to an Australian brewer, Foster's, who are looking for a foothold in North America. Another brewing dynasty comes to an end.

1988 - Belleville is closed, it is the last remaining large brewery in the state of Illinois. 230 brewery workers eventually lose their jobs. Ironically, the last case of beer to come off the line is Kingsbury Near Beer (webmaster note: which tasted awful!)  Heileman sales drop 10% vs.1987

1989  Heileman sales drop again 14% vs. the previous poor year, the company is clearly in trouble. - Bond's empire in Australia is also unraveling & he uses a number of illegal shifts of funds & phantom sales between the various divisions to try & keep the company afloat. But the bankers and the tax authorities are on his heels, and panic sets in. The Australian brewing division remains profitable, despite the loss in share, and he unsuccessfully tries to spin it off. By the end of the year Bond can no longer shift money around fast enough to pay his creditors & the National Australian Bank puts Bond's empire into receivership.- Foster's merges the Carling O'Keefe operations with Molson's, while retaining a 50% stake in the company. Molson favors its own brands over Carling's, and sales of the Carling brands begin to fall

1990 - Frankenmuth, MI facility is closed and St Paul ( formerly Schmidt's) is also headed for the wrecking ball. The company is salvaged, however, and sold to a group of investors in 1991 to re-emerge as Minnesota Brewing (Grain Belt Beer)  -Australian brewery assets are sold to Lion Nathan of New Zealand (Steinlager Beer).

1991-  Heavily leveraged, G. Heileman  files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is taken over by the bank lenders. They, along with Pabst and Stroh's, are accused by the Canadian government with "dumping" beer in British Colombia.  

1994 - Heileman is sold to Dallas based investment company Hicks, Muse, Tate, & Furst for $390 million. This is $1.2 billion LESS than Bond had paid for it! (In college we used to call this a "major B.I". - bad investment). Heileman's sales are 8.4 million Bbl. The famous Carling Red Cap Ale is reintroduced in Canada by the Brick Brewery 

1996 -Heileman, the fifth largest brewer in the country, files for bankruptcy again with $50 million in debts and is purchased by #4 Stroh's of Detroit for only $290 million, as the investment group takes a major hit. They are rumored to have lost at least $54 million on the deal. Stroh's had earlier purchased F&M Schaefer in 1979 and the mighty Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. in 1982.. Stroh's takes on a tremendous amount of debt to finance the purchase which includes $87 million in liabilities for Heileman employee pensions and benefits (!), which will lead to their eventual exit from the beer business. The Carling Baltimore (Halethorpe) facility is closed, 430 brewery workers lose their jobs. Some got a severance as small as $3000 for 30 + years of service. The site was later sold to investors for a reported $7.5 million. (Stroh's also closed the former Lone Star brewery in San Antone, & former Schlitz brewery in Longview, TX).  The Griesedieck-Western brewery in Illinois is finally demolished.

1997 - Stroh's sells 19.6 million bbl per year, a decline of 10% vs. the previous year - Heileman hero Russell Cleary dies at age 63 - a scholarship is set up in his name by the University of Wisconsin La Crosse Alan Bond is sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding his company of $1.2 billion dollars, the biggest corporate fraud in Australian history....

1998 -  Stroh's continues to stay in fourth place but loses share every year, it is now down to 7% of the market as sales decline an additional 15%, the end is nigh...

1999 - Stroh's ceases brewing activities after 149 years to focus on its real estate business, breweries and brands are split among Miller & S&P (Pabst). Black Label and the other Carling brands end up at Pabst, and continues to be sold in Michigan and Ohio, among other states. Stroh was the 4th largest brewer in the country and employed more than 2800 staff. The privately held Fortune 500 company lost $3.9 million on sales of $243 million. Declining share and profits were cited as the reason. The Heileman brewery in La Crosse is closed, 400 employees lose their jobs. Platinum Holdings, a New York investment firm pays $10.5 million for the plant (renamed City Brewing) but cannot make a go of it, it closes again. Jerry Hoffberger, who guided National Brewing as CEO for more than 31 years, passes away.....

2 king28bg.jpg (44648 bytes)000 -Bass sells their brewing interests, including Carling Black Label in the UK, to Interbrew of Belgium, who brew Stella Artois and recently purchased Beck's of Germany. Bass wanted to focus on its profitable business of hotels, pubs, and restaurants.  Interbrew also purchased the Whitbread Breweries in the UK, so the move is challenged by the British courts on anti-trust grounds. Alan Bond is released from prison three years early  Castle Brewing Namibia (west Africa) is ordered by the courts to remove the slogan "World's Best Bottled Lager" & "An Award Winner Worldwide" from its cans of Carling Black Label by the local courts. The claims were judged to be "exaggerated".

2001-   Sales of Carling reach an all time record in the UK - 4 million bbls per year which cbmat1.jpg (20888 bytes) equals one billion 126 million pints of beer. The Black Label is dropped from the brand and simplified to Carling. But British courts order Interbrew to divest itself of some of the former Bass brands on anti-trust grounds. Interbrew wants to keep the Bass Ale brand so a new company, Carling Brewing, is formed by Interbrew in an attempt to offload this arm of the company. Despite a very aggressive offer by Heineken, the Carling Brands are purchased by Coors of Golden, CO for a whopping $1.7 billion US . This will either make them as a global brewer or sink them as did the purchase of Heileman by Bond and Stroh's. 

Black Label drinkers are known for their sophistication and respect for law and order....no, this is not a picture of your webmaster...

2002 - In keeping with Black Label's "bad boy" image in Quebec, Molson's launch a new campaign "Delivrez-moi du Bien" or translated "Deliver Me from Good". Looks like the guy above also wanted to be delivered from good...

There is a very brief shot of Carling Black Label in the pool scene in the classic Rock n Roll movie "Almost Famous" - check it out and see if you can find it!  Carling is also briefly mentioned in the movie "Animal House" when they visit the bar with their "dates"...

AlmostFamous.jpg (84096 bytes)

gabb3.jpg (24601 bytes)

                Reviews of Carling - National Beers from the Great American Beer Book by James Robertson 1978 (don't think I'll be buying that Carling 71 Light, though)

 Taste tests of the National brands again from the Great American Beer Book - I got a hard bound copy now which is not as yellowed as the paperback. Sure did like that A-1. Wish I could have tried National Premium - they also got very high marks in the Oui article (see How Does My Beer Rate page)

From a possible 5 stars from "The Gourmet Guide To Beer" by Howard Hillman 1983


60s ad

I'll bet he drinks Black Label....the bar was out of Drewry's (again!) so your webguy has some excellent Carling Black Label thanks to Wes Weaver in the Hoosier state. Great taste and filling too!

Here are a couple of shots of Charlie Smigo's cool Black Label collection!

stag1.jpg (11588 bytes) stag2.jpg (11941 bytes) stag3.jpg (11600 bytes) stag4.jpg (13232 bytes) stag5.jpg (13376 bytes) stag6.jpg (11586 bytes)stag7.jpg (15412 bytes) stag8.jpg (11264 bytes) stag9.jpg (16863 bytes) stag11.jpg (48715 bytes) stag12.jpg (42830 bytes) stagclosing2.jpg (41548 bytes)

 A number of shots of the Belleville plant shortly after it closed by Mike Guye. Check out the personal letter to Mike from brewing hero Russell Cleary.

carling 1.jpg (26855 bytes) carling 2.jpg (28666 bytes) carling 3.jpg (24218 bytes) carling 4.jpg (21359 bytes) carling 5.jpg (25613 bytes) carling 6.jpg (31917 bytes)carling 7.jpg (23967 bytes)

 The destruction of the Frankenmuth brewery - scans thanks to Wes Weaver (seems like such a waste)

frankenmuth2.jpg (38534 bytes) frankenmuth1.jpg (26141 bytes)

One last look inside Frankenmuth before it was torn down 2000 - another victim of the Bud & SAB / Philip Morris Machines.... Bryan Monaco

altesplt1.jpg (43942 bytes) altesplt2.jpg (41305 bytes)

the old Altes (National) offices in Detroit 01/01/01 - the only other Altes structure still standing - now used by the Detroit metro school district - thanks again to Bryan

Carling Black Label advertising on sale on eBay. It generally goes pretty cheap.

My father and daughter enjoyed some Carling Black Label recently in Michigan and both thought it was a great beer. I used to like Carling until Heileman got a hold of it and put some real real rotgut in the white cans. The old Carling is back and is a really nice brew for the money!