When the news hit you could almost hear the drunk guy at the end of the bar cursing.
Predictably, the decision to brew Alexander Keith’s beer in British Columbia is not going over well with some people. It’s now the No. 1 specialty beer in Canada and the company has decided it doesn’t make financial sense to ship it all from the East Coast.
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So Keith’s will now be brewed outside of Nova Scotia for the first time, with the B.C. brewery servicing west of Ontario.
The problem is that many Nova Scotians are astoundingly protective of the brand. One person I know in the Armed Forces even tattooed the Keith’s logo on his arm to proudly display that he was Nova Scotian.
“Well that’s just silly,” said one friend when I told her of the B.C. expansion.
“It makes perfect sense, but it’s supposed to be our beer!”
She added: “I love Keith’s. It makes me feel more Nova Scotian. I know it’s all marketing, but it totally works.”
Setting aside the idea that drinking beer somehow makes one more Nova Scotian (I actually don’t dispute this), my friend is right on one thing — it’s all marketing. Brilliant, brilliant marketing.
Despite all the talk of “brewing it his way,” anyone in the industry can tell you there’s no way today’s Keith’s tastes anything like it did in the 1800s.
I’ve talked to people who’ve told me about how the beer has changed flavours over the course of their lifetime, as breweries adapt to changing consumer tastes, brewing technology, etc.
And as a company, Keith’s hasn’t existed for a long time. Keith’s strong link to Nova Scotia has helped its success, but with success comes expansion. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Guinness you get here isn’t made in Ireland, but we still think of it as Irish and order it on St. Patrick’s Day.
The link to Nova Scotia (aside from that most of it is still made here) is that it’s marketed as Nova Scotian and people here love it. That’s not going to change.
So don’t worry, your beloved Keith’s is still the same beer. Though personally I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
I drink Shirley Temples.
– Paul McLeod is a staff reporter at Metro Halifax. He is currently in rehab for being a political junkie. It’s going badly.