Barley Mowat 

Known Shadow Brands

with 11 comments

Crap, this is hard. The concept of shadow brands is, as I alluded to in my intro post, no where near cut and dry. Trying to present this information in a format that even approaches readable is basically impossible, so I’m just going to barf it all out here and let the Intertubes deal with it.

Before we get going, though, I should at least attempt to explain my reasoning. I considered a few key sources of evidence when compiling this. Those sources, in no particular order, are:

  • Which breweries are owned by whom, usually determined via Wikipedia or Ratebeer
  • What breweries are licensed to produce beer, according to the LCLB
  • Who the LDB is paying for said produced beer
  • My ass. Yup, pulled some of this out of there by dead reckoning. What, you expected journalistic integrity? Have we met?

So, if your label claims to be made by a brewery that isn’t licensed to make beer and certainly isn’t selling beer to the LDB, odds are you’re on this list.

Anyway, here goes. Here are the obvious beers in BC where who it says, or implies, brews the beer on the can (and it usually IS a can) is different from who actually brews it. In some cases, like Red Racer, you’ll notice the word “brewery” isn’t in the title anywhere, although “Central City” sure is tiny on the back. In others, like most of the Pacific Western brands, there IS brewery in the title but at least they acknowledge who brews it somewhere on the can. Others, like the various Allen brands and Turning Point, try to create the impression of a whole new, craft brewery that simply doesn’t exist.

I’ve left off some of the “purer” brands, like Cantebury for instance, just because they’re not trying to fool you and honestly I don’t want to write “Cantebury” more than twice in my life, and frankly they’re mostly Pacific Western anyways. Red Racer is here just because I like their cans.

Damnit! Gams! I meant gams! Sexist slang is HARD!

Beers where the can claims/infers being brewed by someone other than who actually brews it
(Click header to sort)

Brand Brewed By (on can) Who actually Brews it Brand Type
Big Surf Big Surf Beer Prohibition Shadow
Black Loon Black Loon Granville Island Shadow
Bone Beer Bone Beer Prohibition Shadow
Bowen Island Bowen Island Northam Historic
Red Racer Central City Central City Brand
Hell’s Gate Hell’s Gate Turning Point Shadow
Stanley Park Stanley Park Turning Point Shadow
Steamworks Steamworks Dead Frog Contract
Main Street Main Street Russell Contract
Granville Island (12oz) Granville Island Molson Contract
Hops & Robbers Double Trouble Dead Frog Contract
Scandal Scandal Pacific Western Shadow
Shaftebury Shafebury Okanagan Historic
Cariboo Cariboo Pacific Western Historic
Red Truck Not Packaged Red Truck Brand
Sailor Hagars Sailor Hagars Howe Sound Contract

Who owns which breweries
(Click header to sort)

Now let’s talk ownership. Some of those brewers up there might have brick and mortar breweries, but they sure don’t own them. This is a list of all breweries in BC that are owned upright by another entity. That parent might be a bonafide brewery themselves (like GIB/Molson) or they might be a holding company (like Prohibition/Allen). My head hurts.

Also, some of these subsidiaries are quasi-independant, in that they have their own staff, own brewery, and then set their own direction independently of their fiscal overlords. In some cases (like GIB), the LDB even pays them out as a separate company.

Brewery Is owned By Parent Brews Quasi Independent
Prohibition Allen Brands No No
Granville Island MolsonCoors Yes Yes
Columbia Labatts (AB-InBev) Yes No
Okanagan Sleeman (Sapporo) Yes Yes
Whistler Northam Yes (as Bowen) No
Red Truck Mark James No No
Turning Point Mark Anthony Yes (not just beer) No

So there you have it. I probably missed a whole bunch, so swear at me below.

Written by chuck

July 11th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Posted in Beer and You

11 Responses to 'Known Shadow Brands'

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  1. Crap, is there a flow chart for this? Nice work sorting this all out. Does shine light as to who is actually brewing what.


    11 Jul 13 at 23:07

  2. One of my long term goals is to put together a big flow chart poster showing the relationships between all the current BC breweries. Not sure who would buy such a beast though.


    12 Jul 13 at 07:53

  3. I might.


    12 Jul 13 at 09:20

  4. Maybe we should kick-start it. I imagine most breweries might be interested in such a thing, if you print it up big and awesome enough.


    12 Jul 13 at 09:49

  5. The Turning Point brewery is a weird case. The Mark Anthony group makes Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Palm Bay, Rockstar and other alco-pops, as well as Stanley Park Brewing and Hell’s Gate Brewing, and they all come out of the same facility: the Turning Point brewery down on Annacis Island. The beer is brewed on one side, the alco-pops are blended on the other and I think they’re all packaged on the same line.

    I understand the branding of the alco-pops, but why they chose to invent two fictitious breweries and give them names that are different from the name of the actual brewery is beyond me. I guess if they named the actual brewery Stanley Park nobody would be able to find it.

    Ben Coli

    12 Jul 13 at 10:21

  6. I believe Hagar’s (Gary Lohin’s old stomping ground) is still being contract brewed by HSIB (both kegs for the “brew”pub and 650ml bombers).


    12 Jul 13 at 15:08

  7. @Ben — As usual, it’s just to create an image. Hell’s Gate is “EXTREME!! WOOOO!!!” while Stanley Park backs up their pro-environment image. The fact that it’s all fake doesn’t play into it.

    @Brent — I didn’t know that Hagar’s was available in bottles. Is this only for off sales? I avoided contract-brewed pub beers, because there are dozens of those…


    12 Jul 13 at 15:46

  8. Most people who read this blog probably know, but for the sake of thoroughness, my understanding is that Steamworks contract with Dead Frog is temporary while they get their production facility up and running in Burnaby. Main Street is in a similar spot, although they’ve been passing themselves off as a ‘brewery’ for several years. It will be interesting to see how things progress for Main Street as they shift from contract to their own facility.

    @Chuck – Thanks for putting this together, good post. Another post on contract brewpubs would be really cool, if you have the time and/or patience. A lot of folks genuinely believe that Cactus Club or Triple O’s have their own brands/breweries.

    @Ben – Interesting, I didn’t realize that Mark Anthony group does Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Rockstar.


    13 Jul 13 at 14:31

  9. I work next door to Sailor Hagar’s, and have been enjoying their beers for more than 20 years. Hagar’s bombers are available in their retail liquor store, a few doors down from the pub (the LS is actually in the building which previously housed the brewery). Address is 221 West 1st, North Vancouver, Interesting URL, no? I do not know if the beers are available anywhere else, on the North Shore or off.

    There are six beers available in bottles:
    – Bengal IPA
    – Narwhal Pale
    – Belgian Wit
    – Grizzly Nut Brown
    – Lohin’s ESB
    – Honey Pilsner

    They are all quite respectable beers, particularly the ESB & the nut brown. The same beers are on regular rotation on tap at the pub.

    The rumour I heard (completely unsubstantiated, mind you) about the brewery shutting down and moving to contract at HSIB is that the City of North Van forced them to close because the area wasn’t zoned light industrial. However, I just read Joe Wiebe’s entry in his book, and he says it was simply a management decision. I find it interesting that Hagar’s is not mentioned in Gary’s bio on Central City’s website, although OK and Whistler are.

    Anyway, check out the beers. I’d be interested to hear your opinion of them. A head-to-head tasting between Hagar’s and Red Racer would be fun to do.


    15 Jul 13 at 10:19

  10. Another one I thought of is Salt Spring Island Ales, brewed by Gulf Islands Brewing. I believe this would fall into your “Brand” category.
    (Great post, BTW.)


    18 Jul 13 at 09:06

  11. That one’s trickier, as I don’t believe they market under their brewery name at all (CC does have a non-Red Racer line of bombers). There are plenty of breweries that are like this, presumably because they changed their names at some point.

    Eg: Tree is really “Fireweed Brewing”, Tofino is really “Tuff City Brewing” etc.


    18 Jul 13 at 09:13

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